Fusing American and Mexican cuisines together to create the most appetizing array of dishes imaginable, Santa Fe is New Mexico’s most popular culinary destination. Here are Santa Fe’s 10 best restaurants.
The perfect example of how to take the best from North American and Mexican cooking traditions to create the most delicious of fusion dishes, Cafe Pasqual’s is one of Santa Fe’s most popular restaurants. Diners can choose to tuck into fine gourmet foods such as grilled applewood-smoked bacon, wrapped in mission figs and served on a bed of arugula with bleu cheese, or a double lamb chop brushed with pomegranate molasses and served with a sauté of garlic and pattypan squash, and a potato chive cake. For a spicier dinner, diners can order the marinated and slow-cooked shredded Angus beef chilli tacos, or the mole enchiladas with organic pulled-chicken and cilantro rice. Keeping with the Mexican theme, the walls of Cafe Pasqual are decorated with hand-painted tiles and murals created by Leovigildo Martinez.
One for fine food connoisseurs, The Compound is one of the city’s most upmarket eateries, run by highly reputed chef Mark Kiffin. The menu is made up of timeless dishes created using the freshest seasonal produce and inspired by the dishes that the Spaniards brought over to the Southwestern states. The Compound’s distinct look is the fantastic work of designer Alexander Girard, who is responsible for the elegant and stylish feel of the place. Order a rosemary Manhattan to sip whilst waiting for the appetising dishes to arrive. Then savour the incredible tastes of sweetbreads and foie gras, brick-roasted Durham Ranch poussin with poached garlic gnocchi, and tangy blueberry mousse.
A barbecue restaurant serving a range of regional American seasonal specials, Cowgirl is the place to go for delicious-tasting grilled meats, tender chicken pieces and some of the best Tex-Mex dishes in the state. Diners can choose between the branding-iron BBQ chicken, the twelve- hour-mesquite-smoked sliced-beef brisket, and the slow-cooked pork ribs basted with BBQ sauce, or go all out and get a BBQ sampler platter that includes all three. Aside from the barbecued goodies, a variety of burgers, sandwiches and quesadillas are also on the menu, as well as a range of tasty side dishes. Located near downtown Santa Fe, barbecue fans will not want to miss out on a Cowgirl dinner.
More than just a typical Spanish tapas restaurant, El Farol provides its diners with live entertainment and music every night of the week, as well as a special flamenco show every Saturday. Colourful pieces of art, painted by New Mexican artists, adorn the walls of the restaurant, creating a lively and unique atmosphere. The tapas dishes are the perfect balance between innovative cuisine and much-loved traditional favourites. Diners can choose a selection of vegetarian, meat, seafood, pasta, and cheese tapas for the table to share, whilst sipping a drink and watching the show. Remember, dinner is a lengthy and sociable affair in Spain, so there’s no need to rush through the dishes.
Despite being a food truck, many people say that El Molero serves the best fajitas in the whole of Santa Fe. Located on the corner of San Francisco Street and Lincoln Avenue, you can stop by here anytime of the day to enjoy a meal or a snack, sitting on the grass in the Plaza whilst listening to the jazzy melodies of street musicians. Primarily a fajita joint, the chicken fajita is the most popular dish, but the steak fajita and the Chile Rellenos are also incredibly tasty. For those after an extra bit of kick, ask for a green chilli in the wrap to make it hotter. Being a favourite eatery of both locals and tourists, El Molero can get busy. Be prepared to wait in line, but the service is good so the wait is never too long. El Molero also sells great lemonade for just $1.
A place where the guacamole is made fresh at the table and the margaritas are made with gold tequila, Gabriel’s has been rated one of the best restaurants in the USA. Serving an array of dishes that have been inspired by both Southwestern and old Mexican cooking traditions, the food here is top-notch. Start with the crab taquitos or the BBQ beef skewer for appetiser, before moving on to either the Arizona chimichangas or the burrito de carnitas for a tasty main course. All of the tortillas used in the dishes are handmade using cornflour, and the utmost attention is put into the preparation and presentation of each individual dish. Gabriel’s is also a favourite spot for romantic dinners.
Voted one of the top 100 restaurants in America by OpenTable, each dish at Geronimo is presented like a fine piece of art. Here ingredients aren’t put together just because their flavours complement each other, they have to look beautiful side-by-side on a sparkling white plate too. The menu is certainly geared towards the sophisticated palate, as dishes include delectable combinations such as chilled Crenshaw melon and cucumber bisque, Hawaiian ahi tuna sashimi and tartare, Tellicherry-rubbed elk tenderloin and Fujisaki Asian pear salad. Situated inside a delightful building dating back to the 16th century, Geronimo boasts a cosy interior complete with roaring fireplace and a sensual lounge bar.
A good old-fashioned neighbourhood brew pub with a real community feel, the staff at Second Street Brewery are on a first-name basis with most of the clientele. Specialising in fine hand- crafted ales and lagers, some of the beers are brewed on site, whilst others are brought in from other breweries from around the country and across the globe. Before sampling too many brews, customers can line their stomachs with a variety of traditional pub fare. From nachos to wings, potato skins and beer-battered onion rings, to burgers, wraps and homemade desserts, there’s plenty to keep the hunger at bay.
Now open for dinner as well as breakfast and lunch, guests can stop by the The Pantry Restaurant for buttermilk pancakes and stuffed French toast in the morning, a triple-decker club sandwich with homemade chips at midday, and a plate of grilled pork chops or Pantry recipe meatloaf in the evening. Serving tempting made-from-scratch comfort food daily for over sixty years, The Pantry Restaurant has earned its reputation as one of Santa Fe’s best food stops. The classic diner-style counter gives the restaurant a casual friendly feel, in keeping with the generous portions and classic malt milkshakes that the customers just love.
Loyal customers flock to Tomasita’s every Tuesday evening to watch New Mexico’s only all-female Mexican folk band, the Mariachi Buenaventura, play whilst enjoying a deliciously spicy dinner. Reputed for serving the best margaritas in Santa Fe, as well as the best red and green chiles, it’s easy to get lost in the moment at Tomasita’s, as a quick dinner turns into a long evening of fine food and drink. Whether you opt for an enchilada, a burrito, a stuffed sopaipilla, the chile rellenos, chalupas, quesadillas, tacos or tostadas, be sure to order the crispy blue corn chips with salsa and the mushroom caps to start.