Santa Fe Dining -

Santa Fe, and the rest of New Mexico, is known for its huge and spicy plates full of Southwestern food. Restaurants in Santa Fe run from expensive haute Southwestern to down-home fast-food style plates, where you will be asked "red or green" (chile). You can try a mix of both red and green chile peppers by asking for your dish "Christmas style". However, Santa Fe also has a number of excellent restaurants offering other cuisines -- possibly too many of them, in fact, as the highly competitive marketplace forces even some very good ones out of business before their time. It is almost impossible to overstate the dining possibilities here; they far outstrip those in most American cities ten times Santa Fe's size. (Really, how many towns of 60,000 have over 200 places to eat?) As with several other New Mexico towns, restaurants in this description are broken into the sub-categories "Mexican" and "Other." Meals (exclusive of drinks) will usually cost $10/person or less at the "Budget" places, $10 to $25 at the "Mid-range" ones, and more -- sometimes much more -- at the "Splurges." Area code is 505 for all phone numbers below.


There are so many good New Mexican restaurants in town that a description here can barely scratch the surface. Got a favorite not listed below? Add it. A note on red and green chile: half of the writers on New Mexican food claim that green chile is hotter than red, while half claim it's the other way around. In reality, the best authority on the spiciness of the chile at the particular restaurant you eat at is the restaurant itself, so if you're concerned about the chile being too hot, simply ask; you'll get a straight answer far more often than not. One thing that's definitely true, however, is that green tends to be fleshier than red, and adds a bit more substance to the dish, independent of the heat level.


 • The Shed is the quintessential New Mexican lunch spot. In a little plaza off East Palace Avenue in the heart of the downtown area; address is "113 1/2" and you may have to look around for it. Phone 982-9030. Its sister restaurant La Choza (982-0909) is open evenings and is rather hard to find, on Alarid Street, an obscure side street close to the main drag of St. Francis Drive well outside the downtown area. Both serve "traditional" New Mexican food (enchiladas, stuffed sopaipillas, etc.) in a rustic setting.
 • The Plaza Cafe sits, as its name implies, on the main Plaza (54 Lincoln Ave., phone 982-1664) and is an old standby. Open 7 days for all meals, but particularly recommended for lunch, although it's crowded.
 • Cafe Dominic, 320 S. Guadalupe, 982-4743, is a relatively new entry near the beautiful Santuario de Guadalupe. A breezy, informal place with an artsy-craftsy atmosphere. Open 7 days for all meals, but try this one particularly for breakfast; the breakfast burritos and Santa Fe omelettes with green chile are excellent.


 • Tomasita's is considered by many to serve the definitive "traditional" New Mexican food. 500 S. Guadalupe, just south of downtown in an old railroad station; 983-5721. Entrees around $9-11, but splurge a little and get the sangria too. Expect to wait, as it's enormously popular.
 • Blue Corn Cafe offers the curious combination of New Mexican cuisine and a microbrewery. In two locations, 133 Water Street downtown (984-1800) and 4056 Cerrillos Road (438-1800). Lunch and dinner 7 days a week.
 • Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, 555 W. Cordova Road, 983-7929 (reservations accepted, but many walk-ins), prides itself on margaritas, but the traditional New Mexican cuisine is also good, if a bit heavier than at Tomasita's. Lunch and dinner 7 days. Parking, though ample, is a pain to get to; approach from the east, on Camino de los Marquez rather than Cordova.


 • Gabriel's is as much "Old" Mexican as New Mexican. On State Road 285 north of town (past the opera) near the outlying village of Pojoaque; 455-7000 (reservations advised). The guacamole appetizer is fantastic, as are the flautas. Dinner with guacamole and sangria will cost $25 or so.
 • La Casa Sena, 125 E. Palace Ave., 988-9232, is an example of "Southwestern" cuisine -- the merging of traditional New Mexican preparation and presentation with more modern, creative ingredients (sometimes a little too creative). Open 7 days for lunch and dinner; reservations recommended.
 • Coyote Cafe, 132 W. Water St., 983-1615 (reservations recommended, can be placed on-line), is another highly-regarded "Southwestern" dining experience, although there has been a recent tendency for chef Mark Miller to use his restaurant to engage in puffery on behalf of his big-city franchises elsewhere. It's still an excellent restaurant, if an expensive one -- $50 per person for dinner, including wine/dessert and tip, is not unusual. Don't let the typos on their web site put you off; the chef is much better at attention to detail than the webmaster.


Santa Fe has plenty of standard chain restaurants (Olive Garden, Outback, Red Lobster, etc.), but why bother? There are enough excellent "local" ones that you can save your trips to these more ubiquitous eateries for cities less well-endowed from a culinary point of view. All restaurants below are uniquely Santa Fean in their character and cuisine.


 • Pyramid Cafe, in a strip mall on Cordova Road south of downtown, serves good Greek/Mediterranean lunches (M-S). Nothing fancy, just good, casual food. Don't bother with reservations, but call 989-1378 to check on hours -- open hours vary.
 • Santa Fe Baking Company is across Cordova Road from Pyramid and offers tolerable sandwiches, soups, etc., for lunch, but don't go just for the lunch (or breakfast); grab a dessert while you're there, these being what it's known for. Can be very busy at lunchtime on weekdays, with chaos on all quarters. Call-in orders welcome (988-4292).
 • Bobcat Bite is an utterly unpretentious burger joint on the way into town from the east, far from the downtown area (420 Old Las Vegas Highway, phone 983-5319). Nothing fancy here, just huge and tasty burgers, etc., in a setting that evokes a 1950s small-town diner. No credit cards accepted, unless they've changed policy recently.
 • Upper Crust Pizza, 329 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-0000 (seriously), is widely considered to serve the best (American-style) pizza in town. Free delivery, but if practical, consider dining in instead; Old Santa Fe Trail is one of the main tourist drags, and you get a chance to combine pizza munching with people watching.


 • There are two surprisingly fine Indian ("east" Indian rather than Native American) restaurants run by the same family: India Palace on Don Gaspar Avenue downtown (986-5859), India House on Cerrillos Road (471-2304). Both are open daily for lunch and dinner, the latter sometimes with entertainment. India Palace is more "atmospheric," India House more convenient (better parking), the menus are essentially identical, and the sag paneer at both is to die for. Figure $15-20 a head.
 • Pink Adobe, 406 Old Santa Fe Trail, 983-7712, . A long-time Santa Fe standard, near the downtown area. A mix of continental and New Mexican cuisine that borders on "Splurge" territory. Dinner 7 nights, lunch M-F.
 • Pranzo Italian Grill, 540 Montezuma Ave., 984-2645, may be the best Italian restaurant in town. In the Sanbusco Center just southwest of downtown. Lunch and dinner 7 days; reservations advisable. Expect it to be loud.
 • Chinese food is a weakness (at least relatively speaking) in Santa Fe, but the unpretentious Wok, 2860 Cerrillos Road, 424-8126, has some supporters. Lunch M-S, dinner 7 days.
 • Mu Du Noodles, 1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411, features noodle/pasta dishes from around the world, but most of the dishes are from China or Southeast Asia. Parking can be a challenge.


 • 315, 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, 986-9190 - A restaurant whose name is also its street number. Reservations advised. French/Continental cuisine in a sidewalk-bistro-like setting. Good wine list, and save room for the crθme Brule dessert. You can easily drop $50 a person here and feel good about it. Dinner 7 nights; lunch schedule unclear.
 • The Compound, 982-4353 - Located on Canyon Road near the art galleries. Historically, the Compound has been one of few places in town with a dress code (jacket and tie), but recent sources call the dress "casual." There was a change of management recently, so it's possible. Do the experiment (conservatively dressed) and report what you find. Continental/American. Lunches M-S, dinner 7 days with entertainment; reservations strongly advised.
 • Geronimo, 724 Canyon Road, 982-1500 - Another fine restaurant amid the galleries. The menu tends toward Continental but is entertainingly diverse and changes frequently.
 • Bishop's Lodge Restaurant, Bishop's Lodge Road, 819-4035 (reservations). At the pricey Bishop's Lodge Resort (see under "Sleep"/"Splurge"), north of downtown on the way to the village of Tesuque. One of the few "Splurge" restaurants that offers three meals a day, including a Sunday brunch. Eclectic cuisine, basically American.
 • Tulips, 222 W. Guadalupe, 989-7340 (reservations). Santa Fe is full of unpretentious, little-advertised, yet good hole-in-the-wall restaurants that nobody has heard of, and this one is better than most. American-meets-Continental cuisine; the elk tenderloin is marvelous. Portions can be a bit small, but in an overweight age, that's not such a bad thing. Quieter than some of its competitors, which can be a relief. Expect to spend upward of $100 for dinner for two with wine and dessert. Dinner only, Tuesday through Sunday.
 • Paul's, 72 W. Marcy, 982-8738 (reservations),, is similar to Tulips, a very good hole-in-the-wall restaurant that's easily overlooked. More American-meets-Continental, with interesting appetizers, and close to the Plaza and other downtown sights. Dinner 7 days; open for some lunches, with a "Twilight" menu from 5:30 to 6:30 with some good stuff at a reduced prix fixe.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License

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