Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southwest >
Jul 16, 2007 11:56 AM

Cheap and cheerful Santa Fe?

We're headed up to Santa Fe in a couple weeks. Looking to get out of the Phoenix heat for a while. The first few days we'll be there are Spanish Market so we booked the Holiday Inn out on Cerrilos to avoid the overpriced and overcrowded Plaza while the market is going on.

We had a great time up there in the Fall last year but aren't looking to break the bank on this trip. Our favorite meals during the last trip were the less expensive places we tried: La Choza, Harry's Roadhouse, even the carnitas cart on the plaza was pretty darn tasty and definitely cheap and cheerful!

Other than a breakfast at Pasqual's we're not looking to splurge much(husband loves their breakfast so definitely wants to stop in once while we're there). Would love to keep most meals under $15pp...any suggestions on your favorite cheap and cheerful spot? Being around the Plaza definitely not necessary. Suggestions in surrounding towns definitely welcome as we're hoping to see more of the surrounding area this time(did get to Taos last trip and won't be making that trip again...also stopped in Madrid last time...but didn't eat. Would head down there for a lunch or dinner if there's good suggestions as the road was a great drive and the little towns along it were good fun to visit).

Have read about a Himalayan place in town? We're kind of intrigued by it worth a visit?

Also, we thought we'd try to get tickets for the Opera while we're there...I believe this is sort of a Hollywood Bowl type thing where folks pack a dinner to eat before? Any suggestions on where to pick dinner up from if we do turn up some tickets?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tesuque Market, north of town has great breakfasts. Intersection of 22 and Bishops Lodge Road. Stop at Shidoni Brass Foundry just down the road and do a self-guided tour of the shop and watch as they pour and make brass statues. Free and fun.

    Go back to Madrid and eat at Mine Shaft Tavern and have elk burger with cheese and green chile. YUM!

    1 Reply
    1. re: DebitNM

      I second this suggestion. Shidoni is well worth a stop and the Tesuque Market is cheap, casual and a nice drive to get to.

    2. Not sure what you mean by a "Hollywood Bowl" type of thing when you refer to the opera. Some of us do tailgate but it sure is a lot different than your basic football game. I believe that several restaurants in town will prepare "box dinners." I seem to recall that the Old House at the Eldorado used to do this. We put our own meal together and bring wine. Better check ticket prices online, the Opera is no bargain.

      1 Reply
      1. re: IslayMan

        That's the same as what's done at the HOllywood Bowl(at least it was up until 15 years ago when I moved and assume it hasn't changed). It isn't really a tailgate...people bring box dinners which they lay out(often complete with linen, china and candles etc)and enjoy before the concert. One of my favorite memories from my Los Angeles days.

        If you haven't been to the Hollywood Bowl and are ever there during the summer it's a nice experience. The LA Philarmonic is in residence during the summer. Definitely no football involved! LOL

        Thanks for the tip on the box dinners at the El Dorado we'll look into.

      2. I've had nothing but good experiences at Los Mayas on Water Street (great music and tableside guacamole), Saveur on Sandoval (?) (friendly, scrumptous, good-to-go), and the Guadalupe Cafe on Old Santa Fe Trail. I have taken many guests to these places and never gone wrong. Also, if you haven't tried Tia Sofia's on San Francisco Street for breakfast, I definitely suggest it! It's hearty, yummy, and starts the day off right.

        The Rooftop Pizza place on Water has a terrific view from the patio for drinks and noshing on appetizers for a way to wind down the day. Have a great time!

        1. I'd vote for the Pantry for another breakfast choice , since you've already mentioned my go-to Cafe Pasqual. I don't know that I'd bother driving out to the Mine Shaft when there are so many other good burgers for the taking in town. Bobcat Bite would be my choice for a green chile cheeseburger.

          I second the Rooftop Pizza selection, though I imagine anything on the Plaza will be quite busy during Market season.

          If you go to the Opera... you are welcome to tail-gate. There will be many others doing the same. It may be a challenge if you're from out of town and don't have a folding table or chairs or a big SUV whose trunk can be made into a table. You'll basically be sitting in the parking lot (some of which is gravel). There are a few picnic tables on the grounds themselves, but you'd have to be one of the first cars in the gates (open at 5:30pm) in order to snag one. You can get boxed dinners from Angel Food catering - they have some sort of partnership with the Opera, but you'd probably be better off from any other restaurant in town. Or you could pick up things at Whole Foods. Santa Fe does experience fairly typical late afternoon/evening thunderstorms and rain during Opera Season, so have a backup plan. The driveway to the Opera can get backed up, so allow a good 30 minutes to get from the freeway exit into a spot in the lot.

          Wow, that was long. Have a great visit.

          1. There's a little Indian place right outside of the Plaza area and it's FANTASTIC! I can't remember the name but I think it's the only one in the area.

            I know you said $15pp but IMO the BEST restaurant in town has to be El Farol. It's a tapas restaurant and pricey but OH SO GOOD.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Heyteacher

              That's India Palace - I can't say that I share your enthusiasm for how good it is, but it's fine.