Santa Fe is a food city with more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. You will find captivating, ever-changing, varied and delicious cuisine. Santa Fe has earned a prominent place on the world cuisine chart with its innovative Southwestern and hearty New Mexican dishes such as green chili stew.
New Mexicans love green peppers, state-of-the-art vegetables, spicy and delicious. You will find many varieties of burgers with green chili, all remarkable. If your server asks if you want red or green, it refers to the type of chili you want to serve with enchiladas, chili rellenos or other dishes. You can order “Christmas” if you want to try both.
If you’re hungry for creative contemporary cuisine, you’ll find it here in Santa Fe: Spanish, French, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, African or Indian. You will find many restaurants in old adobe houses with beautiful courtyards and terraces for dining in warmer weather. Local chefs buy ingredients from the farmers market to improve their menus from farm to table.
In no particular order, here are my Santa Fe favorites from the innkeepers’ suggestions at the Inn of The Five Graces.
1. Martin Restaurant
Martin Rios chef at Restaurant Martin, a nine-time James Beard Award finalist, is repeatedly recognized for his innovative flavor combinations and emphasis on fresh, local produce and organic meats and poultry. You will enjoy Southwestern, Asian and French influences in an intimate, neat space where dedication to detail enhances the winning kitchen. Order the Maine Shell Appetizer in the pan and the New Zealand lamb quarter fried as a main course with barley with mac & cheese truffles.
Choose your favorite wine from a collection designed to make the most of your experience. We selected a delicious Atamisque Malbec 2018 from Mendoza, Argentina, a classic red with plum and blackberry jam, notes of violet, cedar and a scent of herbs and liqueur.
Order an autographed copy of Restaurant Martin’s cookbook by email [email protected]
Tip: Don’t miss the fantastic melted and bittersweet chocolate cake for dessert. Or try lemon meringue pie with mascarpone and vanilla cream, pistachio cake, fresh berries and berry sorbet.
2. 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
Offering a truly French experience from 1995, where Southwestern cuisine typically shines the spotlight, Lous Moskow features an elegant, intimate restaurant serving unusual and creative cuisine, accompanied by an extensive list of world-class wines. French Onion Soup is a classic at 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar. The chef changes the monthly menu, and in December, when I visited, I enjoyed the quail on a bed of sweet potatoes with a lemon tart for dessert.
Tip: Try the fragrant venison scallops with demi-glaze of berries.
Open to indoor or outdoor pavilion dining, Izanami is a luxurious izakaya dish with small plates accompanied by the widest selection of premium Japanese sake in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy sushi and sashimi created by chef Shigeru Usuki from seafood that flew straight from Tokyo. Incredible! Ninety percent of beef, pork, chicken and wagyu products are organic or sustainably grown by local organic farmers and ranchers.
I love the variety of bento box selections, spicy crab-filled rice balls and Colorado lamb chops. Pickles, desserts and ice cream are homemade.
Tip: Order the chocolate dome with raspberries or the carrot cake for dessert.
Named after a hamlet known for its vineyards near the place where the award-winning master chef Cristian Pontiggia grew up, Sassella offers a refined culinary experience, combining Italian cuisine from the new world with the traditions of the old world. Enjoy tuna tartare with yellow fin or cook the prosciutto, salami and cheese. Enjoy the chef’s lobster risotto or white Mediterranean perch for the main course. Add a selected wine to match the dish. Or, for a special occasion, indulge in Sassella Degustazione with nine dishes with wine pairings.
Tip: For dessert, don’t miss the Tiramisu duo, classic tiramisu and gelato with a mint chocolate martini after dinner.
5. Rio Chama Steakhouse
Located in Santa Fe’s oldest neighborhood, Barria de Analco, across the river, Rio Chama Steakhouse offers brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks and happy hour, plus musical entertainment. Six cheese fondue for the table is a great appetizer or sample of capital with shrimp, squid, buffalo sausage and fried avocado with spicy sauces.
Combine jumbo shrimp, lobster tail, lobster etouffee or chili relleno with a selection of Raw Steaks and special cuts such as long-boned tomahawk.
Tip: Enjoy the Kahlua coffee cheesecake for dessert.
6. The Mouth
Inspired by Spain and the Mediterranean since 2006, the La Boca menu, eight times nominated for the James Beard Award, chef James Cambell Caruso changes seasonally, reflecting fresh, local ingredients. It feels like a lively European wine bar with The New York Times describing the menu as “modern reinventions of classic Spanish cuisine”. You will find modern Spanish tapas combined with an extensive selection of Sherries and Spanish wines and live music.
Tip: I like a Rioja with tapas, like Moroccan carrot hummus, shrimp or black mussels from the West Coast in green coconut salsa.
7. Pasqual’s Café
A festive corner café with colorful Mexican folk art décor, Café Pasqual’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner using fresh, seasonal, organic and naturally grown meat products. Gourmet Santa Fe creations by chef Katharine Kagel reflect Asian and Mediterranean influences. Enjoy the special omelets of the day, golden blitzes or avocado toast with poached eggs and works.
Enjoy tamales, Oaxacan tacos or a grilled bison burger for lunch. Dinner includes mignon fillets, grilled shrimp or mole enchiladas.
Tip: Don’t miss the rich desserts. Offers include meringue tart with lemon Meyer and pear sorbet with slices of almond cake.
8. The Lighthouse
The venue for a flamenco dinner every Friday and Saturday night, El Farol is renowned as the most historic and iconic restaurant and bar in Santa Fe. Enjoy small Spanish and Italian plates such as fried calamari, Angus beef skewers or chicharrones. Paella El Farol is remarkable, made with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, lima beans, romesco, saffron and Carnaroli rice. Find your favorite New Mexico products, such as tacos, hot pepper burgers, hot pepper chicken enchilada, and the best wines.
Tip: Save space for Chocolate Decadence, rich chocolate cake, dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis.
Originally from Mexico City, chef Fernando Olea has been creating contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes, attracting Santa Fe since 1991. This James Beard Foundation nominee 2022 at Sazon specializes in mole, the heart of Mexican cuisine. Enjoy shrimp with Thai chili aioli or locust chicken in chili oil on an avocado tortilla or enjoy the nine-course tasting menu at Chef’s Degustacion.
The salmon wrapped in filo pastry is fantastic. Enjoy tastings of tequila, mescal and agave on Wednesday and Friday. Sazon boasts the largest selection in the city.
Tip: Indulge in Helado de Mole Poblano, the exotic Mole poblano ice cream of the chef floating in chocolate chips for dessert.
Geronimo combines traditional and innovative American cuisine with an Asian flair in a warm and welcoming “Casa Borrego”, built by Geronimo Lopez in 1756. Executive chef Sllin Cruz creates an award-winning, seasonally changing, refined seasonal menu. Enjoy Wagyu beef carpaccio and sherry bisque with wild mushrooms for starters and grilled lobster tails or elk muscle with Tellicherry for the main course.
Tip: Save room for banana and chocolate tart or fresh Meyer lemon crepes.
One of Santa Fe’s most beautiful dining terraces, SantaCafe has been housed in Santa Fe’s most elegant historic home for over 40 years. It was purchased in 2019 by Quinn Stephenson, the Santa Fe restaurateur who also owns the legendary Coyote Café.
Quinn has combined modern cuisine with old-fashioned elegance, offering ingredients from local sources. I liked the delicious lobster salad starter with salmon in a pan with asparagus for the main course. The ambiance in the yard feels like home.
12. Coyote Coffee
Opened in 1987, Coyote Café is a major pillar of the city, continuing its reputation for adding global style to Franco-Asian influences. The rooftop canteen offers the perfect view of the lively center of Santa Fe, with bar snacks and small plates such as tempura shrimp, tacos and plenty of margarita variations.
At Coyote Café, you feel a sense of community and a genuine passion for modern Southwestern cuisine. Try signature cornbread with three butter flavors, then mussel posole in a white wine sauce. Indulge yourself with grilled quail or fried mignon fried with cast iron for the main course.
Tip: Finish off with a rock star, a drop of strawberry lemon with pop-rock candy on the edge.
13. Dinner for two
Celebrating 20 years, Dinner for Two is proud of the best steaks in New Mexico, awarded by Travel and leisureand Reporter Santa Febest happy hour, best cocktail, best bartender and best meal. We enjoyed the homemade coconut shrimp, the classic Caesar table salad and the veal marsala. Fancy yourself and indulge in 16-ounce Chateaubriand for two meals. For dessert, the traditional bananas, orchestrated by Foster, brought back memories.
Tip: Order the state-of-the-art Signature Love Bubble cocktail, a margarita mixed with passion fruit juice, cherry bitters and Patron tequila, topped with a smoke bubble that you take out when the drink arrives.
Want more restaurants in Santa Fe? Check out 6 amazing restaurants for a true Santa Fe taste.