New Mexico’s cuisine has strong roots in Pueblo Indian culture as well as in the culture of the Spanish settlers. Three ingredients unique to the state are the green chile, blue corn and pinon nuts. You will love the food in Santa Fe. Here are some of my top picks:
Café Pasqual’s, 121 Don Gaspar: The famous James Beard Award Winning Restaurant. I love the atmosphere but it can get crowded. If there are no tables, join the communal table in the center of the dining room. My favorite dish is the Huevos Motuleños – eggs over easy on a corn tortilla with black beans topped with sauteed banana, feta, green peas, roasted tomato-jalapeño salsa, green or red chile or tomatillo salsa with a side corn tortilla. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Santacafé, 231 Washington Ave, just north of the Plaza: Always one of my favorites with a sleek white interior in the winter and a great patio in the summer.
The Compound, 653 Canyon Road: Features Mark Kiffin who won the James Beard Foundation Best Chef of the Southwest Award. This is one of the local’s favorites. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.
Geronimo, 724 Canyon Road: One of the best restaurants in town where I have never had a bad meal!
The Teahouse, 821 Canyon Road: A Great place to stop for lunch or a break during a day of gallery hopping on Canyon Road.
Coyote Café, 123 W. Water: Opened in 1987 by Mark Miller, creator of modern Southwest Cooking. Eric DiStefano, formerly of Geronimo, is now chef.
315 Restaurant, 315 Old Santa Fe Trail: Attractive restaurant in a small adobe with outdoor seating. It features French cuisine and great wines.
Harry’s Road House, 96 Old Las Vegas Hwy: A fun, casual restaurant just outside of town.
La Casa Sena and Cantina: A great spot for lunch or dinner. In the Cantina, the waiters and waitresses sing show tunes every night of the week. They have a great outdoor patio for dining in the warmer months.
El Farol, 808 Canyon Road: Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant and cantina specializing in Spanish cuisine and Tapas. I love eating on the porch.
Pink Adobe, 406 Old Santa Fe Trail: Located in a 300-year old rose colored adobe, this has been one of the best restaurants since 1944.
Maria’s, 555 W. Cordova: One of the best Mexican restaurants in town. It has a fun, casual atmosphere.
Cowgirl BBQ, 319 S. Guadalupe St.: Casual spot featuring BBQ, New Mexican and Mexican fare.
Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill, 301 Jefferson: A great fast food restaurant with really great fish tacos.
Tesuque Village Market: One of my favorite spots. An old roadhouse in Tesuque 12-15 minutes north of the Plaza. It has great breakfast, lunches and dinners featuring New Mexican as well as Mexican specialties. Grab a New York Times and enjoy coffee with the locals. There is also a small general store if you want to pick up some grocery items. 138 Tesuque Village Rd.
Restaurant Martin: Our newest recommendation is Restaurant Martin at 526 Galisteo. Martin Rios has been nominated twice by the James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef Southwest. It has a large patio with a charming, warm interior space. It has a wonderful seasonal menu with a large wine list. I loved the service, the atmosphere and the food. The roasted monkfish entree was complex and perfectly prepared with Swiss chard stuffed with lump crab meat, cauliflower puree, raisins, cannellini beans, candied ginger and a lemongrass-coconut nage. There were salmon, scallop, chicken, duck breast, pork and beef entrees as well. The assortment of chocolate desserts was over-the-top!
Clafoutis: Just found this excellent French bakery/cafe on my last trip thanks to a long-time local friend. It has great salads and sandwiches and amazing French pastries and desserts!! 402 N Guadalupe St.
A great new addition to the dining scene is Joseph’s of Santa Fe. At 428 Agua Fria, this is a small, free standing adobe with a warm and inviting decor featuring frescoes, sculptures and original art. Chef Joseph Wrede is a Food & Wine Best New Chef. He opened Joseph’s Table in 1995 in Taos and has now re-launched it in Santa Fe. It has a very creative menu and excellent food.
La Boca, 72 W. Marcy: I enjoyed this tapas restaurant that was recommended by friends. I had a delightful dinner of a kale salad, a roasted beet salad, a wonderful paella with chicken, shrimp, mussels and chorizo and a scallop entree. It was great being able to share and try multiple plates. They have a large number of fish, chicken seafood and meat options. They also have Taberna La Boca, a more casual spot. 125 Lincoln Ave.
Gabriel’s: Just north of the Santa Fe Opera, this was recommended to me by a long time local. It is a fun casual spot for Mexican food and perfect for a large group. They are known for their guacamole made tableside. They have a large menu featuring vegetarian options, moles, tacos, fajitas and other Mexican specialties. It has a lovely patio in the summer months.
Tune Up Cafe: A fun local’s spot that is a great new find in Santa Fe. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and brunch on weekends, they have a variety of great New Mexican, El Salvadorian and Mexican specialties plus salads, burgers and much more. It is a colorful, casual spot where you order at the counter and then the food is brought to you. 1115 Hickox St.
The Beestro: This is a fairly new addition to the Santa Fe dining scene. There is a small takeout restaurant downstairs, but upstairs there is a colorful dining room where you can try their soups, salads, panini and crepes. They are known for their excellent crepes. They have both savory and sweet. We opted for dessert and coffee and loved the cajeta with New Mexico goat cheese caramel and a tasty lemon curd cheesecake crepe. Both came with vanilla bean ice cream.
San Marcos Feed Store and Cafe: A short drive from Santa Fe, on the Turquoise Trail, is the highly recommended San Marcos Cafe. It is next to a feed store and grounds where you can see peacocks, turkeys and hens. The cafe is one of my favorite new finds. It is cozy and charming with great Southwestern breakfasts. There is a bright enclosed porch with kiva fireplace. It is popular on weekends so reservations are recommended. They also offer live music which really enhances the experience. 3877 State Road 14. They are open for breakfast and lunch from 8 am to 2 pm and for Sunday brunch from 8 am to 2 pm. 505-471-9298.
La Choza: Serving lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday, this casual, colorful restaurant located in an old adobe home, serves New Mexican specialties. The blue corn tacos with chicken were excellent. It is a local’s spot a short distance from the Plaza. It is a sister restaurant of The Shed, one of the most popular restaurants downtown. It comes highly recommended by my local friends as well as recent articles. 905 Alarid St.
One of my favorite new coffee spots is Iconik Coffee. This is a fun locals spot in a large, hip and eclectic space. They roast their own coffee on site, make their own great pastries and cookies and have a number of food items including fritattas, soups, sandwiches and salads. 1600 Lena Street. Their coffee is organic and Direct Trade. Across the street, at 1710 Lena St., is Green River Pottery which has some great pieces of contemporary stoneware ceramics
The Shed: One of the best for New Mexican Cuisine, located at 113 ½ East Palace Ave. They have great outdoor dining in the warmer months. It won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2003 for an American Classic of timeless appeal. It has won many other awards as well.
TerraCotta Wine Bistro: At 304 Johnson St., this is a small colorful restaurant in a 19th Century adobe building. I enjoyed lunch with friends and family. They have a good selection of soups, salads, panini and entrees. I enjoyed a great salmon entree with orzo pasta and vegetables.
Sweet Lily Bakery: At 229 Johnson St., this is a new bakery cafe, opened by long-time baker Melinda Gipson, offering pies, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, scones, tarts, muffins, cinnamon rolls, savory gallettes plus a few lunch items like quiche, all from their own kitchen.
A great new addition to the restaurant scene is Georgia, at 225 Johnson St., next door to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Friends highly recommend it for fine dining by Chef Brett Sparman who has worked in great restaurants in Dallas, Ft. Worth and Santa Fe. They have three options, The Tavern with a more casual menu, The Patio and the Dining Room.
Kakawa Chocolate: This fun, casual spot at 1050 Paseo de Peralta, has chocolate drinks, chocolate brownies, chocolate candy and truffles plus great ice cream. I chose the chocolate and it was worth every calorie. It is the perfect spot for an afternoon snack after sightseeing and shopping.
Rio Chama Steakhouse: An attractive restaurant with lovely outdoor patio, known for its steaks, but have other good options as well. They are open for lunch, brunch and dinner. 414 Old Santa Fe Trail.
Ohori’s Coffee: With two locations, I chose the one at 505 Cerillos Rd. for a great latte and a scone. They roast their own coffee daily and in small batches.
Other places that come highly recommended by locals, and friends, include:
Sazon: My brother and his wife just tried Sazon and loved it with friends. Opened in 2015, it is located at 221 Shelby St. and features Latin American Cuisine.
The Pantry, 1820 Cerrillos Road: A local’s place that was recommended to me.
Jambo Café, 2010 Cerrillos Rd.: African Swahili food in a restaurant with colorful painted walls and African art.
Counter Culture, 930 Baca St.: A local’s favorite for baked goods, soups and salads.
Midtown Bistro, at 901 W. San Mateo Road.
El Meson for tapas and Spanish cuisine. Throughout the week they offer jazz performances and a tango milonga on Tuesday.
Horseman’s Haven: 4353 Cerrillos Rd. Known for its casual, New Mexican cuisine.
Vanessie is known for its popular piano bar with singer Doug Montgomery performing four nights a week.
Chocolate Maven: Recommended by my neighbors in Santa Fe for delicious baked goods. They also have a cafe for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner and high tea. 821 San Mateo.
Shake Foundation: Located at 631 Cerrillos Rd., this is a popular spot known for their green chile cheeseburgers and other burgers. Santa Fe Bite is also known for their green chile cheeseburgers. 311 Old Santa Fe Trail.
Ten Thousand Waves is a popular spot for spa services just outside of town. Their new restaurant, Izanami, has gotten some great recent press for excellent Japanese food.
La Plazuela Restaurant, at the La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza, is very popular with locals and tourists alike. The hotel is the oldest in Santa Fe.
I just read about Santa Fe Spirits which is a local distillery and tasting room which features its smoked in liquer, an apple brandy made from northern New Mexico apples,a single malt whiskey and other spirits. It is high on my list to visit on my next trip. There is a tasting room downtown at 303 Read St. and tours and a tasting room at 7505 Mallard Way.