Raaga: top-notch Indian restaurant in Santa Fe

A relative newcomer on the Santa Fe scene is the Indian restaurant, Raaga, owned by Paddy Rawal.  It's in a one-story arts-and-crafts style bungalow on Agua Fria street (a few blocks west of Sanbusco Center, where you can park if the restaurant's lot is full), that housed the excellent Asian-Pacific fusion restaurant Mauka a few years back.  (Mauka's chef, Joel Coleman, now heads an "Asian tapas" place, Koi, that gets good reviews---I haven't tried it.)  The old Mauka decor is still there, with the exception of some photos of India on the wall.  It's casual but reasonably elegant.

The food is some of the best in Santa Fe, of any type.  Food at Indian restaurants is often very oily and garlicky---which can be fun, but can be a bit much.  The food at Raaga does not have this problem---the lack of excessive oil gives a much clearer, cleaner impression on the palate, and there's plenty of flavor.  Much more like home-cooked Indian food.  The stuffed pepper appetizer was a hot green chile (the menu says it's a Poblano) with a filling of potatoes, peas, and spices that's standard for samosas, thinly covered with a cornmeal  batter and fried.  Delicious ($4.95).  The Chole Amritsari---chickpeas with a sauce featuring pomegranate, chiles, and ginger ($13.95), was superb.  Bombay fish masala curry, at $17.95, was also excellent.   Naan was topnotch as well.  Some of the best Indian food I've had in a restaurant, and the prices are quite nice for food of this quality.   Two appetizers and a split main dish would easily make a meal---the main dishes are quite large.

Let's hope that, unlike the equally excellent Mauka, Raaga makes a go of it at this location.  It's a bit off the main tourist and business streets, but it's a short and very pleasant stroll, full of Santa Fe atmosphere, from the busy Guadalupe street area down Agua Fria, so check it out.

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