OK, first off, I kinda want to sue Frommer’s for leaving this place out of their “Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque” guidebook. I lived and died by that book when I was in New Mexico — not to mention last summer when their “Nashville & Memphis” guide never left my sweaty hands — so I was stunned to find someplace as cool as Todos Santos Chocolates & Confections missing from their hallowed pages.
Ginger and I stumbled upon Todos Santos one afternoon and returned at least one more time, but Christine and I made this joint our home away from home in Santa Fe. Seriously, we made a beeline for this place every time we went downtown…and well, that was a lot.
Located just a short walk up Palace Avenue from the main plaza, Todos Santos is nestled inside the heart of the historic Sena Plaza directly across from the legendary La Casa Sena restaurant. Never got around to trying the restaurant (like many eateries in Santa Fe, they keep kind of odd hours) but the gourmet chocolates at Todos Santos are truly out of this world.
In fact, owner Hayward Simoneaux — who was spectacularly friendly and actually started to recognize Christine and I as “regulars” after a while — was named one of the 10 best artisan chocolatiers in the country by Chocolatier magazine in 2001. And man, does he deserve the title. Everything we tried in his shop was downright magical…
Our favorites were a dark chocolate mouse number with reddish fleur de sel on top and a dark chocolate morsel filled with homemade peanut butter that literally melted in your mouth. You never had peanut butter this velvety! Also good was a little dark chocolate horn filled with red chile cream…amazing!
And the chocolates are just the beginning, as the interior of the tiny shop itself looks like some crazy-cool fiesta scene from the Golden Age of Cine Mexicana. Beautifully decorated with colorful paper flowers, masks, Virgen de Guadalupe ornaments and tons of gold and silver (and even chocolate!) milagros, the place was breathtakingly cool.
And the packaging was even cooler. Simoneaux’ bold, vivid boxes and wrapping were just as amazing as the chocolates inside…and, best of all, shockingly affordable. The funky little glass and silver box we bought below was like $10-12 and was filled with three or four of our favorite chocolates to boot. Hell, you’d pay almost twice that much for the chocolates alone in Los Angeles.
Cooler still was what happened my last day in Santa Fe. Knowing I had one more shot at securing some tasty take-home treats for Christine, I headed down to Todos Santos alone and was delighted to find the store completely changed for Easter. Everywhere you looked were bright spring colors, chocolate bunnies and a dazzling new array of handmade chocolates. Man, I wanted to buy everything…
Luggage weight restrictions being what they are, however, I narrowed down my selections to a few individual pieces in another super cool box and two small bags of Easter goodness. One was filled with dark chocolate covered almonds lightly dusted with cocoa, and the other was filled with individually-wrapped caramels infused with chipotle pepper spice, that were even better than they sound. As Ginger would say: “Yummers!”
But perhaps my favorite thing about Todos Santos was the smell. If you could bottle that shit, it would sell like, well…chocolate-scented hotcakes. The aroma in that place was positively otherworldly, and I swear, if you stayed in there long enough (as we did on several occasions) you started to smell like chocolate…which, all things considered, is a pretty tasty way to start your day.
So, gracias, Todos Santos…your chocolates will live on in our dreams!