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Jan 3, 2008 09:03 AM

Christmas Restaurant Tour in Santa Fe

We took a stellar restaurant tour of Santa Fe this December, and I thought I'd share our reactions...

Eating at the bar, we had great experiences both at Bistro 315 and The Compound. The courses I myself chose at the Compound weren't that great (the bartender, who advised a dried-out pork loin and not-great apple dumplings, steered me wrong) but my inlaws all adored their food. My mother in law especially had a fish prepared in red wine that she raved about. And my 7 year old's Niman Ranch hot dog was great too. Altogether, the bar seems to be an inexpensive and informal (i.e., more fun) way to have a relaxed time at the Compound, and I'm sure we'll be back.

We always love Pasqual's, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. It's so great to look at, the vibe is so relaxed and friendly, and the food at its best is vibrant and imaginative without being outrageous or pretentious. A green salad I had there for lunch with a Reuben sandwich was phenomenal, and I'm a big fan of their baked brie with two salsas at dinner.

Blue Corn Cafe was only so-so. Bumblebee Diner on Jefferson was amazing value, and highly recommended. La Casa Sena on Xmas Eve was delicious: mother-in-law didn't love her food, but the rest of us really enjoyed a lobster enchilada with a really interested chilied sauce, and a steak with blue cheese crumbled on top. Setting was cozy and service (despite challenging behavior by in-laws) was great.

Casa Nostrani was excellent too. We had a very memorable panna cotta with caramel and tangerine sauce for dessert. The food's not as much my style as Pasqual's--too subtle--but ingredients and prep were essentially perfect. It's wildly expensive and a little formal, though the service is good and not unfriendly.

Hardly a bad experience, in 10 days. We are dying to go back!

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  1. Wow! Sounds great Crinkle. Thanks for the report. Can you tell me more about Bistro 315? That's a place that's been on my list of restaurants to try. As for the Compound; I never knew you could eat at the bar. Did you need a reservation to do that? Is it a completely different menu that the restaurant?

    2 Replies
    1. re: abqdeb

      No need for a reservation at the bar at the Compound. As mentioned, it's a great place to hang out. We often drop in for dessert & drinks as well as the occasional lunch or dinner.

      1. re: abqdeb

        We actually did book five seats at the Compound that day, as it was a Saturday. You could order from the main restaurant's menu or from a separate bar menu (with things like the hot dog), as I recall. Bar seemed to seat about 15. I will definitely back on my next trip to Canyon Road.

        We went to 315 twice, once at the bar and once sitting down. I don't love formal dining the way I used to--because of the sky-high prices, the formality, and the uptight feeling that I'm taking up a seat at one of their tables and need to order two or three courses to pay my rent. So I enjoyed eating at the bar much more. Ordered a calamari caesar salad and a good glass of white, which I liked a lot. My husband's food, which I can't remember, was good also. And 315, which had great service, put together a killer plate of chicken with plain sauce and mashed potato for my 7-year-old girl, who was putting up with our restaurant mania.

      2. It's been awhile, a few years back, but I went to a great little New Mexican diner called Dave's Not Here, 1115 Hickox St. They are reasonably priced for gringo-ized mexican food and killer burgers. Which with my budget works great. Of course in Sante Fe, anything reasonably priced is a find.