Dining in Santa Fe

By Eileen Richardson

My first comment to those of you who have never been here before. You will be very amazed at the caliber of restaurants here in a small city of about 60,000, in the middle of a very poor and isolated state. I know I was when I first moved here from Southern California.

As other art forms thrive and excel here, so does the art of cooking I have found. The other thing is that the mix of Spanish, Mexican, Pueblo, and American cuisines converge here. So what normally would be American cuisine is blended with touches of Pueblo styles or Mexican or Spanish styles and visa versa.

Sazon Santa Fe
Originally from Mexico City, Chef Fernando Olea has been enthralling diners in Santa Fe since 1991 with his unique interpretation of contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes. Chef Olea creates sophisticated flavors using Old Mexico’s indigenous and culinary traditions alongside ingredients from around the world. His menu is deliberately small, featuring fresh and locally sourced produce and meats when possible. Chef Olea is delighted and known for his moles that include his “New Mexican Mole” that he created to commemorate Santa Fe’s 400 year anniversary in 2009. Mole is a sauce of complex flavors that usually includes toasted and ground spices, seeds, nuts, chocolate and chile. Plan on making a reservation at Sazon for some authentic and intricate Mexican food.

Geronimo
Featuring huge overhead beams, creamy stucco details, and a fireplace sporting oversized moose antlers, the 250-year-old hacienda that houses Geronimo restaurant is a welcome addition to Santa Fe's trendy Canyon Road. Restaurant owners Cliff Skoglund and Chris Harvey along with chef Eric DiStefano have created a refined retreat in this once rough-and-tumble town, serving exquisite contemporary cuisine that rivals the best in the country You'll find such elegant dishes as Brie and Almond Soup, Napoleon of King Salmon with Chile-Butter Sauce and Braised Ruby Chard, and White Peach Shortcake with Champagne Ice Cream. At Geronimo, food is art, customers are guests, and everyone is welcome. Geronimo restaurant is named for Señor Geronimo Lopez, the former owner of the hacienda in which Geronimo is housed. Geronimo was named the most popular restaurant in New Mexico by Zagat and received four stars from Mobil Travel Guides in 2000, 2001, and 2002 and since.

Galisteo Bistro
Owned & operated by chefs Robert & Marge Chickering, Galisteo Bistro features eclectic, innovative international cuisine known for its open kitchen, quality menu offerings, and attentive service in a casual, comfortable downtown setting. Specialties include Braised Lambshanks, Seafood Pasta Romesco, Chicken Braciole and Crabcakes ala Flamenca, along with an extensive list of tapas, cheese flights and salad courses. Daily specials include fresh fish & seafood, seasonal bistro entrees, and homemade desserts. Whenever possible, ingredients are local, seasonal and organic.

Coyote Café and Rooftop Cantina
This Santa Fe spot serves a refined menu featuring dishes like grass fed filet mignon and grilled lamb chops, supplemented by cocktails and a rooftop bar which is open during the summer months. Comfortable curved booths fill the light-filled dining room, while colorful accents and simple metal chairs give a more relaxed vibe to the funky, open air cantina. The cantina offers Mexican style dishes, appetizers, and drinks. Of course a beautiful rooftop view of the City Different!

Lunch

Jambo
African homestyle fare includes jerk chicken, goat stew, plus wraps & pies in casual, colorful digs.
(Outside downtown Santa fe- Need transportation)

Tomasitas
Lively go-to for enchiladas, sopapillas, flautas & more Southwestern favorites amid basic decor.

La Choza
Casual eatery with colorful decor features tacos, burritos & more with a separate vegetarian menu.
(Outside downtown area-Need transportation)

The Shed
Local go-to for classic Southwestern fare housed in a circa-1692 hacienda with a cantina-style bar.

Breakfasts

Palacio Café
Home cooked Mexican style breakfast items and traditional American foods

Plaza Cafe
Retro spot for classic diner fare along with Southwestern comfort food in a family-friendly setting.

La Plazeula at La Fonda
Picturesque gardenlike restaurant in La Fonda Hotel serving sophisticated New Mexican cooking

Tia Sophias
No-frills, diner-style eatery serving regional favorites, breakfast specials & famously hot chile.

Café Pasqual
Mexican fare from local & organic ingredients along with a community table in a historic adobe.

Most of these restaurants are in the downtown area. I hope you choose a variety to truly get a taste of Santa Fe.