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Aug 7, 2007 06:34 AM

2 nights in Santa Fe - Where to dine?

My wife and I are going to spend two nights celebrating her birthday in Santa Fe. With so many great choices, I am having trouble deciding where to eat. Here are the three I'm most seriously considering:

Aqua Santa - Brian Knox's place

Anasazi - I've heard the outdoor dining here has an incredible view, and the food is wonderful.

Trattoria Nostrani - We love Italian food & spent her birthday last year in Italy. But is the food worth the $120 price point? It sounds a little stuffy with the "no fragrance" policy.

I'm anxious to hear your thoughts on these, and any other recommendations you may have.


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  1. Trattoria Nostrani is excellent (and could easily exceed the $120 you mention). I wouldn't call the atmosphere stuffy. On the contrary. This is a matter of doing food so well, you don't mind leaving the parfume at home.

    Anasazi is great now that The Old House's former chef Martin Rios has moved over. They have always had an excellent margarita.

    I'd take her to The Compound for incomparable service and quality. Another of Santa Fe's award-winning chefs is in residence here.

    If price is truly no option and you can get a table, I'd vote: 1) Trattoria Nostrani, 2) The Compound, and 3) Anasazi.

    Let us know where you decide to go and write a little review.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 505alyce

      If price is no Option, Fuego and Trattoria Nostrani in that order are where you should dine. They have the best food, Fuego the best service, but both are excellent. (both with outstanding winelists as well).

      1. re: 505alyce

        Better late then never! Here's a brief account of the places we visited in Santa Fe...

        Trattoria Nostrani for dinner. We had an exceptional meal, and terrific service. We chose to sit inside, and the setting was very comfortable and intimate. Perhaps a little too intimate, as we were seated so close to another couple that we were essentially eating together. Even though the space is small, they could stand to separate the tables just a bit. My most memorable dish was a simple ravioli in a fresh tomato ragu.

        Anasazi for dinner. Not a bad experience, but a bit more generic. I was hoping for some bolder southwest flavors, and was slightly disappointed. The service was good, but lacked hospitality - not much warmth. Again, we were very happy overall. But comparing with such a memorable experience the prior night, we were a bit underwhelmed.

        For lunches: Plaza Cafe upon arriving. Great local spot, festive with a mariachi band playing, and absolutely packed. El Farol on Canyon Road. We had excellent sandwiches. It was a great stop after walking through the galleries. Looked like it would be solid for dinner as well. Before leaving, made it to Coyote Cafe's rooftop cantina. Glad we did lunch here instead of dinner. The rooftop, outdoor cantina has a great feel.

        For breakfast, we made it to Cafe Pasqual's. Again, definitely a local scene. We ate at a community table, and had a chance to talk to other tourists as well as locals. Excellent food.

        Also, drinks on the 2nd floor patio of the Ore House. Not the best margaritas, but a great place for drinks before dinner. Overlooks the plaza, great people watching. Good salsa.

        Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I would highly recommend a weekend to Santa Fe to get away from it all.

      2. Another thought... Amavi is chef David Sellers new restaurant in the space that was once Julian's. Sellers was for quite a few years exec chef at SantaCafe. I was in there last night and had an excellent meal. It is on the high end, price-wise so is on a par with the usual suspects, SantaCafe/Ristra/Anasazi/Compound. Food is comparable to each of them (our dishes last night were a Sea Bass with a Remoulade sauce over roasted vegetables and a Rack of Lamb).

        Julian's was always considered a "romantic setting"; it has been updated but not so much as to have lost its charm.

        A note... Trattoria Nostrani is not stuffy at all though the zealousness of their no fragrance policy is personally off-putting to me. Food is exceptional. Anasazi does now have a small outdoor area right on Washington Street. It is not a "view" setting at all unless being a few steps away from the Plaza is view enough. The outdoor area was intended to offer spur-of-the-moment, casual dining featuring "small plates". That said, the full restaurant menu IS available.

        Finally, I'm a friend of Brian Knox and I like his food a lot. His Aqua Santa probably is not quite as "lofty" as the above restaurants however; at least for a special occasion meal.

        1. Thanks to all for your feedback. I've made reservations at Trattoria Nostrani and Anasazi. I'll be sure to post reviews when I get back.


          1. nostani is the place to dine when you are in town. just don' wear fragrnce or the owner eric will kick you to the curb.

            1. The restaurants you picked are very, very good but could be found - foodwise - in Aspen or Vail. For truly original great food in Santa Fe, I take out-of-towners to Cafe Pasquals...delicious, pricey, and unique. Also La Boca for superb Italian tapas....a delicious way to taste many beautifully prepared things. Unlike any other restaurant too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hirschyfa

                Just a news flash on this Tratorria Nostrani in Santa Fe....bad news. The guy is an certified pervert, releasing nude photos of Kristin Davis (the actress) to the press. Here's the article:

                Kristin Sex Pics: Ex-BF Sold Her Out!
                Posted Mar 19th 2008 1:35PM by TMZ Staff

                So TMZ has completely blown the cover off the Kristin Davis sex pic scandal, and we've just unmasked the ex-boyfriend who helped stir it all up. Bad Charlotte!

                We've confirmed that photos were taken back in 1992, when Davis was 27, by her then-guy Eric Stapelman. Eric was a chef in New York at the time and is now executive chef at Trattoria Nostrani in Santa Fe. We're told Stapelman was pissed at Kristin and sold the photos to a third party. That guy then had the pics stolen from him -- classy all around.