Sanaa Ahmed and J.D. Beddo cover the counter and cook at the Secret City Kitchen on the UNM-LA campus. Photograph by Nancy Coombs/UNM-LA
Since the Secret City Kitchen opened a café in the UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) Student Center in November 2016, students, UNM-LA employees and community members have been enjoying the convenience of having a restaurant on campus.
Owner Jeremy Varela’s menu of breakfast and lunch items has a regular following of customers, and draws new customers every day. Initially, the Secret City Kitchen operated the café as a satellite service, with their main catering kitchen in a different location. Recently, Varela centralized his operations at UNM-LA.
“I chose to locate the Secret City Kitchen on the UNM-LA campus to make an investment in the community,” explained Varela. “It was a way to fill a need for food service at UNM-LA, and also to complement their facilities rental program by offering on-site catering. This is the best place in Los Alamos to host meetings. There are multiple room sizes and configurations, free wi-fi, and access to AV equipment.”
The Secret City Kitchen serves made-to-order food 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday. Their selections combine southwestern flavors with Indian influence, thanks to chef Sanaa Ahmed. The turkey jack grilled sandwich and tandoori chicken wrap continue to be favorites with customers, but the new burrito bowl and smothered burritos also are very popular. In the near future Varela hopes to provide more salads, cold sandwiches and ready to go items in the café. Secret City Kitchen also serves espresso drinks and selected baked goods.
The café menu can be viewed at https://secretcitykitchen.com/.
Ahmed is joined in the Secret City Kitchen by J.D. Beddo, a Los Alamos native who has returned after spending time working as a chef in Taos. Ahmed and Beddo thoroughly enjoy preparing food, serving it to customers and hearing their comments.
In addition to the café menu, the Secret City Kitchen offers Tapas 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays at Bathtub Row Brewing, family-style dinners Wednesdays and catering. All food is now prepared in the UNM-LA kitchen, and customers can pick up their pre-ordered Wednesday dinner on campus. (See their website for information about menus and delivery options.)
“Customers are always welcome to place their café order online, and select a pick-up time,” Varela said. “Even if they choose to eat their meal in the UNM-LA Student Center, it allows them to plan their time accordingly.”
UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney said, “We appreciate the opportunity to expand our working relationship with Jeremy, Sanaa and J.D., and the increased hours and new menu items they have added. We always enjoy sharing our campus with community members, and have been pleased to see an increase of events catered by the Secret City Kitchen.”