A line forms awaiting the 4 p.m. mark as doors open to Santo Boulder, Restaurateur/Chef Hosea Rosenberg’s newest restaurant in North Boulder. As I arrive, Chef Hosea and his staff are gathered around prepping for the night ahead, and the bustle begins.

You may have heard of Chef Rosenberg before; he’s the man behind one of Boulder’s best, Blackbelly (his first food truck turned restaurant), specializing in whole-animal butchery. He took a different route when designing his second concept and cuisine found at Santo. The inspiration comes from his hometown, Taos, New Mexico. The seasonal menu shares his take on New Mexican fare, featuring a variety of fresh flavors while never forgetting the importance of the chile.

The casual spot has a modern and cool aesthetic, like Blackbelly, but with Southwestern design details. For example, you can’t miss the one of a kind lighting fixture paying homage to the ancient Zia Sun symbol and small ‘Santos,’ or saint figurines found presiding around the dining room. 

As I settled in, Chef Rosenberg and wife/PR Rep for Santo, Lauren Feder, explained that they would be bringing out an array of cocktails, appetizers and plates that were a mix of chef and customer favorites. And just like that, a unique variety of salsas: piña with smoked pineapple and jicama, verde with tomatillo and green chile, fuego with fire roasted tomatoes and chiles, and guacamole were placed on our table with local blue corn tortilla chips. As if this starting spread wasn’t enough, they brought out a colorful smoked rainbow trout tostada on a blue corn tortilla shell and their beautiful Little Gem Salad.  

To wash down our variation of starters were three handcrafted cocktails, each with a twist: A Nitro Mezcal Old Fashioned, The Sangre and the Zia. The Zia cocktail features Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, and Feder explained the background information about the label art—designed by Ken Price—which represents the single village in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

The main courses began rolling out as different staff members stopped by to check in and let us know their favorites on the menu. First came the Crispy Folded Tacos with Pork Adovada with sides of rice and beans. The main event was the delectable Wood Oven Half Chicken with Roast Winter Squash, Kale and Mole Rojo (a chef favorite). 

All of the food and drinks perfectly complemented each other and brings a pleasant variety to the Boulder food scene. In conclusion, it’s Tao’s cuisine with a delicious twist. 

As the meal wraps up, feeling so delightfully satisfied (and full), I am already thinking about the next time I will be in that line out front patiently waiting for the clock to strike four.