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22 Year old friend of mine visiting Santa Fe in a week; would like to surprise her and her friends with credit at local restaurant - which one?

A young woman I used to work with is visiting Santa Fe, Aspen and Denver. She is visiting with 3 friends of hers, and they plan lots of outdoors fun - rafting, horseback riding, etc. I would love to surprise her with a gift certificate to a great local place, where they can enjoy great local food and beer. Southwest CH'ers: Can you provide recommendations?

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  1. I saved a couple of Chowhound posts about restaurants in Santa Fe because I'm going there in a couple of weeks. Here's what I saved. Some of these places weren't there when I lived there. I'm anxious to try some out.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429663

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421620

    Hope this helps.

    http://kokoscorner.typepad.com

    7 Replies
    1. re: starkoch

      Thanks for forwarding - seems to be hard to find info here. Nothing on Zagat that I can find. The only thing is, she is 22 - first post focuses on fine dining (I am keeping that for future if I visit!) then after that very inexpensive eats. I am hoping to find a place that is good, but fun for younger people. Cafe Pasquel might be a good choice.?

      1. re: rgfoodie

        Pasqual's is great for both Breakfast/Brunch and dinner and while the atmosphere is a little more relaxed, the price-point of the menu is DEFINITELY fine dining. Maria's is a fun little cantina with good local delicacies and great margaritas!

        1. re: rgfoodie

          I'm sure it doesnt meet anybody's definition of fine dining, but for a casual and fun atmosphere, it sounds like the Cowgirl Hall of Fame is right up her alley. Some will differ, but I found the food to be excellent (really good brisket; ice cream baked potato for dessert), good bar with a long happy hour, very friendly staff, pool table, live music. Outdoor seating if the weather is cooperating.

          1. re: Fydeaux

            I'm sorry, but I feel like I MUST speak up here. Don't send anyone to the Cowgirl unless you really hate them. Their brisket is barely edible, all of their smoke flavor seems to come from Liquid Smoke and the texture of ALL of their barbeque is quite tough and stringy. The service is abyssmal. Truly spiteful, nasty servers and the management is totally unsympathetic. I have given this place so many chances, it's amazing how consistently awful they are.

            1. re: IHateKiddo

              Well, I did say that some would disagree...admittedly, I have only been there twice, and those visits were 10 years apart. But while it wasnt Geronimo, it wasnt the holocaust you describe. I cant accout for the differences in our respective experience. All I can say is that I enjoyed myself there thoroughly, and it seemed ideal for the OP's purposes.

          2. re: rgfoodie

            The first thing that came to mind for me was Zia Diner.

            1. re: RobynS

              RobynS, does zia serve beer?

              Thank you to everyone for all the suggestions!

        2. Ha ving spent some time in SF ove rthe last few years, although ont a resident or anything, my favorite is the Compound for modern Southwestern food .

          1. I was just in Santa Fe for a couple of nights with a friend who lives in town. I can't speak for the whole dining scene but did enjoy El Farol. It's not a party spot that most 22 year olds would like, but if she'd like an adult night out in a contemporary setting, it might be a good choice. It's smart but not stuffy. They have outdoor tables good for people watching. There's a nice indoor dining room full of art or one can sit at their nice bar and order some food and a cocktail. I'm not sure what it's like during the day, but the night we were there they had some nice live music. Again, not a rocking scene, but with an international flavor and some "real" dancing going on.

            It also seems one can have a a big night out dining wise, or simply enjoy some tapas.
            Again, I'm going off a really quick, really recent experience with not much else exposure and I hope those more familiar with the scene can either ding me, agree or formulate some other ideas. Regardless, it's cool of you to treat them!

            1. I just got back from Santa Fe yesterday. I ate at La Boca on water street off of the plaza and it would fit your theme. It is a small tapas restaurant and was fabulous. Very reasonable prices, but since it is so small it is loud. The rooftop pizza place serves great gourmet pizza and has a fun bar scene and I would recommend it for a young crowd.