Santa Fe is a food town, with more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. You’ll find exciting cuisine, ever-changing, varied, and delicious. Santa Fe has earned a prominent place on the world culinary food map with its innovative Southwestern fare and hearty New Mexican dishes like green chile stew.
New Mexicans love their green chiles, the state vegetable, spicy and delicious. You’ll find many varieties of green chile burgers, all outstanding. If your server asks if you want red or green, they’re referring to the type of chile you’d like served with your enchiladas, chile rellenos, or other dishes. You can order “Christmas” if you want to try both.
If you are hungry for creative contemporary cuisine, you’ll find it here in Santa Fe: Spanish, French, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, African, or Indian. You’ll find many restaurants in old adobe houses, with beautiful courtyards and patios for dining in warmer weather. Local chefs shop the farmers market for ingredients to enhance their farm-to-table menus.
In no particular order, here are my Santa Fe favorites from the concierge’s suggestions from Inn of The Five Graces.
1. Restaurant Martin
Nine-time James Beard Awards finalist Chef Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin is recognized repeatedly for his innovative flavor combinations and emphasis on fresh, local produce and organic meats and poultry. You’ll savor Southwestern, Asian, and French influences in an intimate curated space where a dedication to the details enhances the winning cuisine. Order the pan-seared Maine scallops appetizer and roasted New Zealand lamb rack as the main dish, with the truffled orzo “mac & cheese.”
Choose your favorite wine from a collection designed to make the most of your experience. I selected a delectable 2018 Atamisque Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, a classical red with plum and blackberry jam, hints of violet, cedar, and a whiff of herbs and liqueur.
Order your autographed copy of the Restaurant Martin cookbook by emailing [email protected]
Pro Tip: Don’t pass up the fantastic molten bittersweet chocolate cake for dessert. Or try the lemon meringue pie with lemon curd and vanilla Mascarpone cream, pistachio cake, fresh berries, and berry sorbet.
2. 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
Offering a genuinely French experience since 1995, where Southwestern cuisine typically takes the limelight, Chef Lous Moskow presents an elegantly intimate restaurant serving unusual, creative cuisine accompanied by an extensive worldly wine list. The French onion soup is a classic at 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar. The Chef changes the menu monthly, and in December, when we visited, I enjoyed the quail on a bed of sweet potatoes with a lemon tart for dessert.
Pro Tip: Try the tender venison scaloppini with huckleberry demi-glace.
Open for indoor or outdoor pavilion dining, Izanami is upscale izakaya fare, with small plates accompanied by the most extensive selection of premium Japanese sake in a casual atmosphere. Savor sushi and sashimi created by Chef Shigeru Usuki from seafood flown directly from Tokyo. Incredible! Ninety percent of the wagyu beef, pork, chicken, and produce are organic or sustainably raised by local organic farmers and ranchers.
I love the variety of bento box selections, the rice balls filled with spicy crab, and the Colorado lamb chops. The pickles, desserts, and ice cream are made in-house.
Pro Tip: Order the Chocolate raspberry dome or the carrot cake for dessert.
Named for a hamlet known for its vineyards near the place where award-winning Master Chef Cristian Pontiggia grew up, Sassella offers a fine dining experience merging new-world Italian cuisine with old-world traditions. Savor the yellowfin tuna tartar or the Chef’s board of prosciutto, salami, and cheeses. Enjoy the Chef’s Lobster Risotto or Mediterranean white sea bass for the main course. Add a selected wine to pair with the dish. Or, for a special occasion, indulge in the nine-course Sassella Degustazione with wine parings.
Pro Tip: For dessert, don’t miss the Tiramisu duo, classic tiramisu and gelato with an after-dinner mint chocolate martini.
5. Rio Chama Steakhouse
Located in the oldest neighborhood in Santa Fe, the Barria de Analco, the district on the other side of the river, Rio Chama Steakhouse offers brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, and happy hour, plus musical entertainment. The six-cheese fondue for the table is a great starter, or the capital sampler with shrimp, calamari, buffalo sausage, and fried avocado with spicy sauces.
Pair the jumbo shrimp, lobster tail, crawfish etouffee, or chile relleno with the selection of Prime Steaks and specialty cuts like the long bone tomahawk.
Pro Tip: Enjoy the Kahlua coffee cheesecake for dessert.
6. La Boca
Inspired by Spain and the Mediterranean since 2006, eight-time James Beard Award Nominee Chef James Cambell Caruso’s menu at La Boca changes seasonally, reflecting fresh, local ingredients. It feels like a lively European wine bar, with The New York Times describing the menu as “modern re-inventions of classic Spanish cuisine.” You’ll find modern Spanish tapas paired with an extensive selection of Sherries and Spanish wines and live music.
Pro Tip: I love a Rioja with Tapas like Moroccan carrot hummus, sauteed shrimp, or West Coast black mussels in coconut salsa verde.
7. Café Pasqual’s
A festive corner café with colorful Mexican folk art décor, Café Pasqual’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner using fresh, seasonal, organic produce and naturally raised meats. Chef Katharine Kagel’s gourmet Santa Fe creations reflect Asian and Mediterranean influences. Savor special omelets of the day, golden blintzes, or avocado toast with poached eggs and the works.
Enjoy Oaxacan tamales, tacos, or a grilled bison burger for lunch. Dinner boasts the filet mignon, grilled shrimp, or mole enchiladas.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the extensive desserts. Offerings include the Meyer lemon meringue tartlet and prickly pear sorbet with an almond gem cookie.
8. El Farol
The place for a Flamenco dinner show every Friday and Saturday night, El Farol is famous as Santa Fe’s most historic and iconic restaurant and bar. Enjoy Spanish and Italian small plates like calamari frito, Angus beef skewers, or chicharrones. The Paella El Farol is outstanding, made with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, lima beans, romesco, saffron, and Carnaroli rice. Find New Mexico favorites like tacos, green chile burgers, green chile chicken enchiladas, and the finest wines.
Pro Tip: Save room for Chocolate Decadence, rich chocolate cake, dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate ganache, and raspberry coulis.
Originally from Mexico City, Chef Fernando Olea creates contemporary and traditional Mexican dishes, tantalizing Santa Fe since 1991. This James Beard Foundation 2022 Nominee at Sazon specializes in mole, the heart of Mexican cuisine. Enjoy shrimp with Thai chili aioli or baby grasshoppers in chile oil on an avocado tortilla, or savor the Chef’s Degustacion nine-course tasting menu.
The salmon wrapped in filo dough is fantastic. Enjoy tequila, mescal, and agave tastings on Wednesdays and Fridays. Sazon boasts the town’s most extensive selection.
Pro Tip: Indulge in the Helado de Mole Poblano, Chef’s exotic mole poblano ice cream floating in chocolate with crisps, for dessert.
Geronimo merges traditional and innovative American cuisine with an Asian flair in a warm and inviting “Borrego House,” built by Geronimo Lopez in 1756. Executive Chef Sllin Cruz creates an award-winning, seasonally changing fine dining menu. Savor Wagyu beef carpaccio and wild mushroom sherry bisque for starters and mesquite-grilled lobster tails or Tellicherry rubbed elk tenderloin for your main course.
Pro Tip: Save room for the banana-chocolate tart or fresh Meyer lemon crepe.
One of Santa Fe’s most beautiful courtyard patios for dining, SantaCafe has been housed in Santa Fe’s most elegant historical home for over 40 years. It was purchased in 2019 by Quinn Stephenson, the Santa Fe restauranteur who also owns the legendary Coyote Café.
Quinn has fused modern cuisine with old-world elegance, offering locally sourced ingredients. I loved the luscious lobster salad starter with the pan-seared salmon with asparagus for the main dish. The courtyard ambiance feels like home.
12. Coyote Café
Opened in 1987, Coyote Café is a downtown mainstay that continues with a reputation for adding global style to French-Asian influences. The upstairs rooftop cantina offers the perfect bird’s-eye view of bustling downtown Santa Fe with bar snacks and small plates like tempura shrimp, tacos, and margarita variations galore.
At the Coyote Café, you feel a sense of community and a genuine passion for modern Southwestern cuisine. Try the signature cornbread with three flavors of butter then the mussels posole in a white wine sauce. Indulge in the grilled quail or the cast iron-seared filet mignon for your main course.
Pro Tip: Wrap up with a Rock Star, a strawberry lemon drop with pop-rock candy on the rim.
13. Dinner For Two
Celebrating 20 years, Dinner for Two boasts the best steaks in New Mexico, awarded by Travel and Leisure, and Santa Fe Reporter’s best happy hour, best cocktail, best bartender, and best fine dining. We enjoyed the house-made coconut shrimp, the classic tableside Caesar salad, and the veal marsala. Go fancy and indulge in the 16-ounce Chateaubriand for two tableside. For dessert, the traditional bananas Foster orchestrated tableside brought back memories.
Pro Tip: Order the cutting-edge Signature Love Bubble Cocktail, a margarita mixed with passion fruit juice, cherry bitters, and Patron tequila topped with a smoke bubble that you pop when your drink arrives.
Want more Santa Fe restaurants? Check out 6 Amazing Restaurants To Get A True Taste Of Santa Fe.