As an increasingly sophisticated community, Santa Fe’s dynamic culinary scene offers varied, globally inspired cuisines. Yet it also hosts plenty of affordable, down-to-earth dining spots. Our favorite dining memories favor the robust, hearty and colorful local flavors of the southwest: smoky spicy chile peppers (red and green), blue corn tortillas, black beans, white posole (hominy corn). With that in mind, let us share some delicious destinations from our recent visits.
La Choza / The Shed: Both restaurants, owned by a local family, are favorites of visitors and locals. The Shed is a busy spot near the Plaza with a focused menu to help the kitchen deal with adoring crowds. Fun and colorful La Choza is on the edge of the Railyard District, a long walk from the Plaza with a bigger and more varied menu. Try either spot for a delicious taste of regional flavors. Very affordable.
Joseph’s: One of the most charming bistro restaurants we’ve ever enjoyed, Joseph’s “Culinary Pub” is comfortable, yet elegant and whimsical. Part European café, part Abuelita dining room, it provides a perfect backdrop for inventive and delicious cuisine inspired by the region’s culinary history. Chef Joseph’s menu celebrates locally-sourced vegetables, herbs and proteins like duck, lamb and goat. A perfect place for a memorably elegant dining night out.
State Capital: Not far from the ancient Plaza is a bit of urban chic with a southwest twist – State Capital uses its location as inspiration but ventures beyond to introduce variety and adventure to the palates of local diners. Chic and sleek, full of local artists’ work, the dining room is gorgeous – you’d never imagine it was once a pizza parlor!
Sweetwater Kitchen: A 10 minute drive from the Plaza, this neighborhood gem offers a varied menu of lovingly-crafted healthy foods. With a passion for providing customers choice, affordable and flavorful options, co-owners Fiona and Soma nurture a welcoming community atmosphere. We enjoyed a breakfast wrap with a gloriously bright red chile sauce that tasted fresh and clean, and pancakes made with freshly ground buckwheat. Delicious!
Chili Line Brewery: Sharing the space with his father’s Italian restaurant, Chili Line specializes in Polish style smoked beers. Unique and delicious, sampling them in the comfy tasting room or the lovely secluded courtyard is a treat worth the brief walk from the Plaza.
Second Street Brewery: In the Railyard District, Second Street offers a huge patio and dining room with hearty pub fare, perfect for perching and observing the farmers’ market.
Santa Fe Spirits: This cozy tasting room offers a sweet spot to recover from exploration of the Railyard District. Their wide range of locally distilled spirits includes gin, whiskey, vodka, Apple Brandy (ask how they get the apple inside!) and our sippin fave – Atapino crafted with locally sourced pine sap and pinons.
Terra Cotta Wine Bistro: This charming spot, in an old home, was perfect for relaxing after visiting the nearby Georgia O’Keefe Museum. We ordered glasses of wine from local wineries and a platter of nibbles. The colorful outdoor patio was tempting, but on a hot summer day we opted for a table in the air conditioned main dining space.
For a splurge, we headed out to the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantando, about 20 minutes up Tesuque Village Road from Santa Fe. A gorgeous retreat in the Sangre De Cristo foothills, we lunched at Terra on a variety of tacos, guacamole, salsas – and a gourmet burger to boot! The terrace was open to a fabulous view of the Rio Grande valley, mountain ranges and mesas, below an ever-changing skyscape. With friendly, caring service, we lost track of time as we reminisced about our shared love for Santa Fe and all the happy memories it brought us… To work off our hearty lunch, we flirted with the idea of a hike on the surrounding trails, but opted for a stroll around the grounds to enjoy the lush landscaping and art amid the charming casita clusters.