Red or Green?
Give Peace Meal a Chance
Silver City's Peace Meal Burrito Bar is a new incarnation
of the health-conscious eatery.
by Peggy Platonos
Always a fluid work-in-progress, with new ideas welcomed and enthusiastically embraced, the Peace Meal eatery in Silver City has evolved, in the six years of its existence, from a worker-cooperative with an uncompromisingly vegetarian menu to its current incarnation as a single-owner Burrito Bar that offers slow-roasted beef, pork and chicken options in addition to vegetarian and vegan fare. What has not changed over the years is the commitment to provide food that is organic and healthy.
Peace Meal Burrito Bar owner Lynne “Lynno” Aldin displays a small “loaded” Beef Frito Pie combo, with Lentil-Vegetable Soup, with the posted Salsa Bar selections behind her.
(Photo by Peggy Platonos)
"I think organic is really important," says Peace Meal owner Lynne Aldin, known to most people as Lynno. "My goal is to help people find their way to healthy food. I have been vegetarian, and I appreciate vegetarian and vegan food. I do include some meat in my diet now, but I stick with organic food, and with whole-grain products."
On Labor Day, she introduced the change from a strictly vegetarian restaurant to a Chipotle Grill-style Burrito Bar that includes meat options. It is an effort, Lynno says, to expand the appeal of the downtown restaurant and offer more choice to customers, while remaining true to the original goal of providing healthy, organic food.
"The beef and pork are both organic and locally grown. The beef comes from the J-Six Ranch in the Mimbres Valley, and the pork comes from the EZ Does It! Farm in Gila," Lyznno says. "The chicken we use is antibiotic- and hormone-free, but, at the moment, is not available from local sources. Gila Chicken is working toward establishing a mobile processing unit that will meet processing requirements for restaurant use, and hopefully, we will soon be able to purchase local, pasture-raised chicken from them."
Buying meat and produce locally is a high priority for Lynno. "Organic is very important, but we focus on locally grown food, as well. All our vegetables are organic, and, as much as possible, we use local produce — whatever is in season at the time."
Lynno says, with a chuckle, that she is a "television- and community-trained" cook. "For years, I watched cooking programs on television — especially the 'Great Chefs of the World' series. I learned a lot about seasoning, making wine sauces, reductions. I learned how to chop things — and it turns out that's the skill I use most now."
The "community" part of her training took place at the Silver City Food Coop, where she worked as the sandwich-maker for several years before Peace Meal came into existence.
"I learned a lot about vegetarian and vegan cooking at the Coop — how to cook with tofu and use ingredients like eggless mayonnaise and 'Spike' seasoning," she recalls. "A lot of the recipes we started with here came from the Coop or from people who worked here at Peace Meal in the beginning."
In the Peace Meal kitchen, Lynno still prepares food that is sold at the Coop, including sandwiches, wraps, salads, coleslaw, pasta salads, spreads like hummus and a tuna alternative whimsically named "Happy Tuna" — so-named to indicate that the tuna is still swimming happily in the sea, rather than being included in the spread, which is made instead of soaked almonds, walnuts and sprouted sunflower seeds. The Coop also carries her popular vegetarian sushi, her chile-lime cashews and her flax crackers in both the chile-garlic and Thai-sesame flavors.
The Javalina Coffee House in Silver City will soon be selling Peace Meal soups, which are always vegan and range from Lynno's versions of such Southwestern favorites as Green Chile Stew and 3-Bean Texas Chili to more internationally-inspired soups like Thai Coconut Stew, Butternut-Ginger Soup and Shitake Mushroom & Miso Soup. Lynno also features a Soup-of-the-Day at the Peace Meal Burrito Bar, where customers can choose to add some of the slow-cooked meat or Salsa Bar ingredients to any of the soups, if they so choose.
In addition to soup, the Peace Meal Burrito Bar menu now offers Frito Pies, Rice Bowls, Salad Bowls and, of course, burritos. Each burrito is huge and easily provides two meals for people with normal-sized appetites. The basic Rice-&-Beans burrito costs $6.50, while the "loaded" burrito costs $9.50 and includes a choice of meat or a special vegetable option (roasted butternut squash and sweet potato most recently) in addition to the basic long-grain brown rice and pressure-cooked whole black beans.
All burritos, whether basic or loaded, come with the Salsa Bar options, which are posted and include such things as guacamole, sour cream, grated pepper jack cheese, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped green onions, sliced jalapeños, and three different homemade salsas: Red Chile Salsa (the mildest, but still nippy), Fresh Red Salsa (hotter) and Tomatillo Salsa (hottest). Not only can customers choose which of these items get added to their burritos, but people who are sharing a burrito can get completely different Salsa Bar ingredients added to their respective halves of the same burrito.
The Frito Pies actually contain authentic Fritos, along with the same filling options as the burritos, and the same is true of the Rice Bowls, which are similar to the Frito Pies but without the corn chips. Both types of meals offer the same choice of basic or "loaded" options, and the same choice of Salsa Bar ingredients, and both come in large and small sizes. For basic Rice & Beans Frito Pies or Rice Bowls, the cost is $6.50 for the large size and $3.75 for the small size. For "loaded" Frito Pies or Rice Bowls, the cost is $9.50 for the large size and $5.25 for the small size.
Combos of soup and a small Frito Pie or Rice Bowl are sometimes offered for $7 for the basic version or $8.50 for the "loaded" option.
Salad Bowls come in one size only, and the cost is $6.50 for the basic Rice & Beans version, and $9.50 for the "loaded" version. Again, customers are offered the full range of Salsa Bar choices.
Lighter meals are available, too. Soup can be purchased for $3.50 per 8-ounce cup or $7 for a 16-ounce bowl. Flaxseed crackers are also available, along with a variety of spreads, including "Happy Tuna."
Peace Meal Burrito Bar is located in the Hub on Bullard Street, between Java Hut and the Marketplace. It is open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and is closed on Tuesdays. For more information, call (575) 388-0106.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for restaurant reviews at email@example.com or call (575) 536-2997.