Reincarnation at the Borrego House

The old Borrego House at 724 Canyon Road.

The historic Borrego House at 724 Canyon Road has been many things to many people. Way back when, it was the home of one of Santa Fe’s old Spanish families. Then in the early 1970s it was a coffee house called Three Cities of Spain. Today, that Canyon Road location is home to Geronimo one of the city’s most popular high-end restaurants. Crunched in between the coffee house and restaurant, that location brought one man’s version of the American dream to fruition.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Alfonso Alderete in 2009.

Antonio Alderete had worked for two decades as a bartender when he was given the opportunity to work at the Bull Ring. The popular watering hole was then located next to the legislature and its patrons read like a “who’s who” of New Mexico’s power brokers. One day the late Julian Garcia approached him with an offer that he couldn’t refuse. Garcia was as astute as any businessman who knew that Alderete was extremely popular in town. He proposed to Alderete the idea of opening a restaurant using his name that would hopefully garner a following of Alderete’s clientele. Like a marquee for a Broadway matinee idol, Alderete saw his dream realized in 1981, when Alfonso’s Restaurant opened in the historic Borrego House on Canyon Road.

The Birth of Caramba

For the next four years the restaurant prospered as Alderete’s clients feasted on fine food and Alderete’s special drinks. He even invented his own signature drink called Caramba, which people ordered non-stop. Unfortunately, the restaurant abruptly closed when Julian Garcia died suddenly. After the business closed, Alderete went to work at the Palace Restaurant, where he worked until 2003. For the next four years he cared for his ailing wife, who died in 2007. Alfonso Alderete died in 2012 but his drink Caramba lives on in many watering holes near and far.

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