photo by Douglas Merriam
Back StreetBistro. Locals can't get enough of the soup-sandwich-salad combos. Owner-soupier David Jacoby socks it to them with panache. Try the butternut squash and apple-walnut soup ($4.75), which sings with the half-Reuben. $; lunch Mon-Sat. 513 Camino de los Marquez; 505/ 982-3500.
Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery. Corn and chipotle soup ($4.25) is the staff and diners' favorite, especially when chased with an Atomic Blonde ale. A brewery atmosphere cross-pollinates with Southwest charm for a reviving ― and kid-friendly ― stop. $$; lunch and dinner daily. 133 Water St.; 505/984-1800.
Counter Culture Cafe. Far East meets Southwest in the bustling joint. Chicken tom yum ($3.95) warms the belly and ends in a spicy kick: Lemon grass and lime leaves enliven broth filled with chicken, rice noodles, and chile. $$; breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tue-Sat. 930 Baca St.; 505/995-1105.
Saveur. Dave Chasen of L.A.'s famed and shuttered Chasen's restaurant entrusted Saveur's owner with his recipe for chili and beans ($5). Chef Matthew Lynn breathes new life into the soup each winter in a cozy space just a crouton's throw from the Plaza. $; lunch Mon-Fri. 204 Montezuma Ave.; 505/989-4200.
The Compound. Chef Mark Kiffin pairs earthy with ethereal in his wild forest mushroom "cappuccino" with steamed milk (from $8). Come in from Canyon Road's gallery-studded cold for an elegant respite. $$$$; lunch Mon-Sat, dinner nightly. 653 Canyon Rd.; 505/982-4353.