By Jenn Shapland · Photos by Douglas Merriam
Left: Catherine O’Brien and Glenda Griswold. Right: Mezze Plate with roasted red pepper hummus; pickled tricolor cauliflower; carrot, feta & raisin salad; quinoa salad; kale pesto; and dolmas.
It’s a tale as old as time: two women find themselves dissatisfied with their lives, take a vacation to New Mexico, and wind up moving to Santa Fe. Glenda Griswold and Catherine O’Brien were both working for a large food service company in Washington, D.C. when the Land of Enchantment summoned them. “We told our fathers we had really good jobs with insurance,” O’Brien recalls. “We spent all our life savings, bought a truck, and drove cross country.” With what they had left, they bought a house and started a catering company called Peas ‘n Pod. Twenty-three years later, they are still together, still catering, and, though they never planned on it, they’re running a popular wine bistro in downtown Santa Fe called TerraCotta.
Living in a small, remote city like Santa Fe, it often feels like you are subject to the whims of fate. After dinner one night at Shibumi, O’Brien asked her friend, the chef and owner, if he had a mixer she could buy. He didn’t, but he offered to sell her his restaurant. Despite numerous refusals, O’Brien and Griswold finally gave in and bought the place. Out went the white tablecloths, in came the espadrille placemats from France. They started with a list of things they loved and hated about restaurants. Yes to a rotating menu—theirs changes every three months, and is printed on paper instead of “these big-ass menus” some restaurants hand out so “you can’t even see the person across the way.” Yes to seasonal ingredients, like shishito peppers. Griswold describes TerraCotta as a “green-chile-red-chile-free zone.” “Not that we don’t love it,” she assures me, “but there’s so much of that here.” Instead, their menus focus on more Mediterranean fare: grilled artichokes, gazpacho, and an assortment of bruschetta.
Left: Planked salmon crusted with whole grain mustard and brown sugar. Right: French onion burger.
Both Peas ‘n Pod and TerraCotta are inspired by Griswold and O’Brien’s world travels. “We love Thailand, we love Vietnam, Europe. A lot of [catering] clients are carte blanche with us when planning the menu. If I say ‘Let’s do an East Asian menu,’ they’re all about it.” Their love of exploring is also what led them to amass a huge wine menu—over six hundred bottles from all over the globe. Griswold has organized the wine list by price: the $20s, the $30s, and on up. That way, if you come in wanting a simple bottle of wine with dinner, it’s easy to find. And if one night you want to splurge, you can flip to the back. Glasses of wine are six dollars until 6pm (though in New Mexico you can’t sell wine at more than a fifty percent discount, so this only applies to glasses that start eleven dollars and under). Their collection of rosé, especially popular during this heatwave, is the largest in Santa Fe. Because the restaurant came with a wine cellar, they’re able to store a vast selection.
O’Brien and Griswold prize their local community. They stay open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, offering a buffet for anyone who isn’t in the mood to cook. TerraCotta is also very dog friendly, so much so that customers will often reserve the portal for themselves and their canine companions. “We love Santa Fe. It was the best thing we ever did, moving here,” Griswold told me. Their partnership glows through their conversation, as they finish each other’s sentences, and enthusiastically interrupt each other. Reflecting on their working relationship, O’Brien says, “We’ve known each other twenty-six years, lived together twenty-three, we’re best friends, and we have a good support system. We get along pretty well, we love each other very, very much, we like the same things.” It’s obvious that they’ve built a lasting, sustainable partnership around food.
304 Johnson St, Santa Fe, 505-989-1166,