Santa Fe is definitely a foodie town so don’t think it’s going to be cheesy Tex-Mex everywhere you go. After 7 trips here, I have tried most of the popular fine dining and casual spots in town so here are my favorites in each category. Plus, some silly pictures of me and my cousin having fun at our last dinner there. I have no idea why I am making Zoolander face. Our waiter couldn’t take a decent picture of us to save his life but these did crack us up and I guess we weren’t exactly making it easy for him.
Geronimo. Located on Canyon Road and tucked in between all the art galleries and sculpture gardens, this is probably my #1 choice for fine dining in Santa Fe. The inside has an understated elegance with cream painted adobe walls and simple, austere design elements. The food, which focuses on grilled local meats, including elk and bison, also has some unusual Asian twists like sweet and spicy giant prawns or sea bass in daikon broth, and is out of this world. Reservations are a must and men should wear a jacket. Very romantic as well.
Coyote Cafe. More lively and slightly more casual than Geronimo, this restaurant is located just off the plaza in historic downtown Santa Fe. It also focuses on local ingredients and meats, including the use of red and green chiles, bison and elk. We ate dinner here last week and I loved my duck confit with green chile tortillas and my cousin had the elk tenderloin which was so juicy and tender. They also have a wonderful bar here that makes some killer cocktails – we started with their “champagne and pearls” drink which had small spheres of liquid violet liquer that was dropped into the champagne.
Restaurant Martin. Located a few minutes from downtown, this restaurant features a beautiful stone back patio. The chef, Martin Rios, has been a finalist for a James Beard award for Best Chef, Southwest, multiple times. His menu of simply prepared grilled fishes and meats highlights the quality of the ingredients he uses.
The Compound. Also located on Canyon Road, this restaurant is tucked back into a small grove of trees and is located in an old adobe building with multiple cozy rooms. The menu features more American style grilled fare with French influences. It also has a very peaceful, serene atmosphere and is one of my favorites for a first night dinner.
The Pink Adobe. Located right next door to my favorite hotel in the U.S., the Inn of the Five Graces, this restaurant is located in an adobe dating back to the 1600’s. It has a wonderful center courtyard which is where we ate this trip but also has lovely cozy rooms with kiva fireplaces for the colder months. The owner was originally a French woman from New Orleans so her menu is a mix of some creole style dishes including escargots and shrimp remoulade and traditional New Mexico dishes such as stuffed chile rellenos and enchiladas. We went traditional and tried the chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce and the stuffed rellenos with green chiles. It was SO spicy this time but delicious! They also have several specialty margaritas.
Coyote Cantina. This is actually part of the upscale Coyote Cafe but is their casual sister restaurant. It’s located on the rooftop so it has a great view of Santa Fe. Steve and I usually come here for lunch on our very first day and have a margarita, chips and guacamole and then share a plate of enchiladas. It’s very popular in the late afternoon and evening for the happy hour crowd.
Cafe Pasquals. This is best known for its breakfast and brunch dishes, including its huevos rancheros and eggs with chiles. It’s always super popular so expect a long wait but their mimosas will help you manage that.
The Shed. Steve and I ate here last year and we were surprised by how much we enjoyed it. The Shed is located right off the Plaza and is very touristy and the wait for a table can frequently exceed 2 hours so we did not have high expectations. It’s traditional New Mexico and Tex-Mex fare. We ended up loving our meal here and everything was prepared extremely well and their green chile sauce was some of the best I’ve had in Santa Fe. Very strong margaritas too!
For Breakfast: Mangiamo Pronto! This little no-name place is located on the corner of Alameda and Old Santa Fe Trail, is about 2 blocks from the plaza and has the sweetest patio space. It’s one of my favorites for a casual, inexpensive breakfast and cappucino. They make individual quiches and frittatas each morning that are so good and they have some light fare such as homemade granola and yogurt. A great spot for a coffee or hot chocolate.
For Pizza: Upper Crust Pizzeria. Steve and I almost always eat here or get a pizza to go every time we visit Santa Fe. It’s located directly across from our usual hotel, The Inn of the Five Graces, so we either pop over for a casual dinner on nights when we’re tired or get a pie to go and have back in our room with wine. It’s an order at the counter type of place but they do offer a small wine selection and their pizzas use top quality ingredients. It’s also family friendly and they do live music on Friday and Saturday night on their patio.
For a Shady Patio by the Plaza: Casa Sena. This restaurant is located in the central courtyard of a shopping complex right off the plaza. The courtyard is full of old growth trees so it has tons of shade which is often needed in a place where the sun shines as much as it does in New Mexico. Their fare is mostly salads and sandwiches with a New Mexican flare but they make a killer Silver Coin Margarita and I think they have the best guacamole and fire roasted salsa in town.
For Cocktails: Bar at the Inn of the Anasazi. This bar is located inside the Inn of the Anasazi which is a Rosewood property in downtown historic Santa Fe. Being a Rosewood property, the service is impeccable. We usually just come in here for an afternoon cocktail but have eaten here as well (amazing green chile bison burger). They offer a great menu of handcrafted cocktails and specialty drinks and they give you some small bar snacks including chile dusted peanuts so it’s a wonderful place to stop after walking around all day.
Santa Fe is definitely not lacking in the food category. I still have a few other places on my list to try, including Sazon, Tia Sophia’s and The Pantry Restaurant.