- New Mexico
- James Sawyer
Santa Fe is home to four centuries of Spanish-American heritage, the Southwest’s premier art scene and a vibrant assortment of brunch locations. Ranging from French to Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine, Santa Fe’s culinary scene is all about new ways to spice up the classics. No other locale brings together Southwestern charm and culinary savvy like America’s second oldest city.
Nothing typifies down to earth, home style Santa Fe cooking more than the family-owned Pantry Café. New Mexican specialties include eggs with chorizo, omelettes stuffed with chili rellano, huevos rancheros and huevos consuelo. More classic brunch fare from oatmeal, granola, pancakes and French toast, leaves little more to be desired, while the breakfast steak promises to satiate even the most voracious ranchero. Alongside lunch options spanning burgers, sandwiches and salads, an entire menu section is devoted to ‘New Mexican Traditions’, ensuring an authentic taste of the southwest. Now entering their sixth decade of service to Santa Fe, the Pantry is a pillar of New Mexican brunch.
Pantry Restaurant, 1820 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-986-0022
Palacio Café’s all day long breakfast service means that huevos rancheros and omelettes bursting with veggies or meats will no longer be only a morning treat. The house chiles, spanning green, red and ‘x-mas’ varieties are an unmissable feature of the highly popular enchilada plates, available as vegetarian or chicken options. Palacio Café does not shy away from classic lunchtime dishes with a comprehensive menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and paninis. Palacio Café’s renowned green chile finds its way into unsuspecting menu items like the Taos panini and the hamburger, adding a Santa Fe twist to the classics.
Palacio Café, 209 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-989-3505
The Chocolate Maven
Lovers of baked goods will find the Chocolate Maven a particularly appealing brunch spot, although the menu hardly stops there. Many a brunch item reflect the Chocolate Maven’s penchant for baked goods, from French toasts prepared with apricot compote and even themed ‘crème brûlée’, to a tantalising spread of pancakes, Belgian waffles, pancakes, crepes and blintzes. Brunch entrées air on the savoury side, with southwest-inspired omelettes, scrambles and eggs Benedict spiced with poblano chiles and accompanied by beans. Fresh salads offer a greener alternative to the Chocolate Maven’s marathon of eggs, and will more likely ensure that more room is left for the Maven’s signature pastries, ranging from all sorts of tarts, cakes and cookies to croissants, scones and muffins.
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen offers a truly original take on many classic brunch items with its standout fusion inspired menu. Sweetwater’s culinary originality is based partly in international tastes, fusing Southeast Asian items like banh mi and curry with Mexican elements like mole and black beans, and partly in health-inspired cuisine featuring spelt pancakes and quinoa cakes. Co-owner Fiona Wong’s Singaporean origins shines through in the Sunday brunch menu’s Indonesian vegetable curry, served with chicken, shrimp or tofu. While the Sunday brunch includes all items from both the breakfast and lunch, those seeking breakfast must arrive before eleven in the morning during the week.
Santa Fe Baking Co & Café
Few of Santa Fe’s brunch spots boast live music, setting Santa Fe Baking Company and Café apart with Bob Wilson’s Saturday morning serenades, deemed “subtle,” “time-warped” and “eclectic.” Santa Fe Baking Company’s eclecticism continues into the menu with ‘paranormal pancakes’ made with blue corn or with whole wheat and banana, with ‘waffles for the waking’ comprising similarly unique ingredients. More conventional dishes like omelettes and sandwiches can be spiced up with ‘sinful sides’ like chili con carne and chili-smothered french fries. SFBC gets even more original with their house specials, notably the big chile dog and the frito pie, bringing together decadence and originality.
The Plaza Café
The famous Plaza Café boasts the title of Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant, proving that things can only get better with age. Santa Fe’s best bacon makes a handsome addition to southwest breakfast classics like chilaquiles (corn tortillas prepared in green or red salsa and topped with eggs and melted cheese) or fried steak and eggs. A whole half of the menu is dedicated to ‘the healthy side’, with egg white omelettes, burritos and scrambles offering a welcome alternative to the conventionally heavy breakfast options, as well as yoghurt parfaits and oatmeal. Located right on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the Plaza Café offers a taste of the city’s heritage.
The Plaza Café, 54 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-982-1664
While the Teahouse is indisputably Santa Fe’s stop for tea, the brunch menu offers variety to match the comprehensive list of teas. Alongside the obvious spread of scones, the Teahouse brunch menu features a sophisticated range of egg dishes, from quiches and the whimsically titled ‘confetti eggs’ to an impressive roster of eggs Benedict prepared with everything from Canadian bacon to smoked salmon and prosciutto. Besides egg dishes, paninis, sandwiches, soups, salads and a number of Italian-inspired larger plates abound. Unsurprisingly, a mouthwatering selection of desserts are available either to top off brunch or to accompany tea time, including an impressive number of options which can be prepared gluten-free, such as strawberry shortcake, apple crisp, key lime pie and pumpkin pie cheesecake.
The Teahouse, 821 Canyon Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA, +1 505-992-0972
In addition to the weekday breakfast and lunch menus, Zia serves up one of Santa Fe’s more flavorsome brunches complete with bloody marys, mimosas and Irish coffee after twelve. Brunch standouts include the baked almond streudel french toast, as well as the carne adovada featuring slow stewed pork and New Mexican red chili with eggs. Eggs Benedict, croissants and huevos rancheros can be accompanied with gluten free toast, while the breakfast quesadilla offers a decadent twist on a southwestern specialty. Zia is housed in a former coal warehouse from the 19th century now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, renovated in the California Mission style with a deco interior.
Zia Diner, 326 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-988-7008
Clafoutis brings a rare taste of France to the predominantly Tex-Mex fare of Santa Fe, cutting through a sea of pinto beans and green chili with fine cheeses, meats and baked goods. The French proprietors are reputed with Santa Fe’s best coffee, which can be taken to go with any of Clafoutis’ renowned pastries in the event that all of the restaurant’s tables are taken, not an uncommon occurrence. For those who manage to secure a table, a variety of sandwiches, quiches, salads and crepes populate the sit-down menu. Onion soup and the namesake clafoutis make this unmistakably French bistro and bakery and must-see of Santa Fe’s brunch scene.
Clafoutis, 402 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-988-1809
Named after the folkloric saint of the New Mexican kitchen, Café Pasquals exudes the spirit of Santa Fe in its prime location just one block away from the historic plaza. New Mexican cuisine is taken a step further here than most of Santa Fe’s other brunch spots, with original dishes like huevos barbacoa (a slow-cooked shredded beef marinated in chile d’arbol salsa) as well as smoked trout hash and grilled cactus paddle salad. Pasqual’s favorite is a dish combining the best of all sides of brunch, with whole wheat pancakes, eggs any style, applewood smoked bacon and chorizo. For those wishing to incorporate a bit more of Pasquals into their own cooking, not only one but two cookbooks authored by the kitchen are available for sale in the restaurant’s iconic adobe dwelling.
Café Pasquals, 121 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, +1 505-983-9340