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If only one dinner in Santa Fe...

If you had only one night in Santa Fe, where would you go for dinner?

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  1. the history is at La Fonda Hotel -- long a local, and lately a celebrity favorite, this place captures a by-gone era. Good margaritas [and wonderful food] too. Wonderful location - across from the cathedral/park - lots of shopping nearby. Don't miss Cafe Pasqual's for breakfast [next morning?] 121 Don Gaspar Ave, there'll be a line -- and it's worth the wait. Great food, 'Telluride/mountain town' feel, the community table is a blast - make friends and influence people. There's so many here... we haven't had a poor meal in 4 visits [some over long weekends].

    1. Thank you, kenazcc.

      Cafe Pasqual's is my husband's favorite. We go there the first night each time we are in SF. The last two times I thought it was slipping, but haven't the heart to tell my husband.

      Our last trip we had a great time at Coyote Cafe, but I have been reading some negative reports on another forum.

      We have been to Ristra, Bistro 315, Amavi, Santacafe (two bad experiences; never never again), Tulip, La Plazuela, Harry's Roadhouse, El Meson, Geronimo's, The shed, Inn of the Anasazi before Martin Rios left; probably am forgetting some. With the exception of Santacafe, all of these were fine but not fabulous. The only one I would like to go back to is El Meson, but I would rather try something new.

      Have never been to the Compound; the menus just doesn't appeal for the price point.

      I was just curious as to other's opinions of 'the ultimate."

      There seems to be a lot of inconsistency among this level of restaurant in Santa Fe.

      On the other hand, we always find Bumble Bee excellent and fun! That's the other must-go place in SF.

      Thank you again for your post.

      1 Reply
      1. re: laredo

        You seem to have eaten at most of the obvious high end places and if you didn't think Geronimo was great, I don't know what to suggest. For the high end, maybe you are the beat me/whip me/thrill me type who would like Tratoria Nostrani, not that I would suggest it. I agree with you that Bumble Bee is excellent and fun, for a "go any time" place and Cafe Pasqual provides a unique experience, as posted. But if the big guys aren't knocking your socks off, go have a green chile burger at Bocat Bite. Now that is a Santa Fe experience you will never forget.

      2. For a two-fisted burger on an english muffin with killer sweet relish, buffalo nachos, amazing fried chicken, excellent cocktails, and a laid-back atmosphere with skill in the kitchen, I highly recommend The Dragon Room, the more casual half of the Pink Adobe.



        1. I have not qualms with the other recs. here. However, one really nice resaturant, that has not gotten mention is O'Keefe's. Small, but great food and service. I'd place it very high on the list - higher than Old House and some others.


          1. It's not much on decor -- your basic white tablecloths in a storefront -- but La Boca is unbelievably good food. If I only had one dinner, I would go there, but if you are intent on a southwestern experience, it's not that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: goingoutagain

              2nd the La Boca recommendation - probably some of the most interesting high end food in SF. I have heard good things about the new chef (that would be the former Geronimo chef Eric DiStefano) and his food at Coyote Cafe.

            2. Although it has been at least a year since we have been there, we would wholeheartedly recommend The Compound. Although the menus may not be the most comprehensive, everything we have had there is incredibly well executed. Great wine list, too.

              1. There are certainly no bad suggestions given to you, if it was me with only one dinner in Santa Fe, I would hope that it was on an evening that Bobcat Bite was open.

                1. Only one meal? Cafe Pasqual's, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

                  1. MUDU Noodles, Beef Juntaboon...

                    1. Start the evening with a margarita or two , served "up" at Maria's;
                      with an order of Guacamole and chips; then an order of Blue Corn Carne Adovada enchiladas....

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: kennythepig

                        With all due respect, Maria's is terrible. It's overrun with drunken tourists and the food is an insult to New Mexican cuisine.

                        1. re: gastronaughty

                          I'm not sure I would agree that the food is "terrible', but it's pretty mediocre and should definitely not be considered for a "one meal in Santa Fe" occasion - or maybe for any other eating occassion. But why is it always packed to the gills? Deadly margaritas, most would say.

                          1. re: lpsfnm

                            Those margaritas are made with lemon juice instead of lime juice. A good margarita needs the unique tartness of lime juice to really taste good. Even a lemon/lime mix is a poor substitute for freshly squeezed lime juice. There are much better places to eat and drink in Santa Fe, especially if you are looking for one special dinner. Since I rarely go out for dinner, I'll leave the recommendations to the rest of the board.

                          2. re: gastronaughty

                            Well, my wife & I live in Houston and get our share of TexMex which I know isn't the same as Southwestern but we thought the fare was pretty decent at Maria's, especially the Margaritas. We're probably the drunk tourists you are referring to. We also enjoyed Garcia's and Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque. To Hell with the high-end places.

                            1. re: gastronaughty

                              well, everyone has an opinion, and I happen to like the margs and the carne avodada enchiladas...

                          3. My husband and I love El Farol. It's wonderful and on your way, you can walk down Gallery Row.

                              1. re: DebitNM

                                I don't agree. Anyone who could give Los Mayas a good writeup is not a source to be trusted.

                              2. Thanks, everyone. Your suggestions have been very interesting!

                                1. I would not recommend Inn of the Anasazi; our experience during Indian Market weekend was poor. Dishes so-so: I had the Asian tuna dish and it was bland. Other diners had the halibut and said it was 'ok' - not a ringing endorsement from these folks, who are chef-trained. Service attentive to a point but our server was just not paying good attention: he made two terrible wine recommendations in a row; he disappeared more frequently as the meal went on, etc. We've wanted to go to this restaurant for years; the ambiance and room were beautiful, but the food was a big let-down. We'll follow Martin Rios to Geronimo's instead of going back to the Inn.
                                  Also: a pet peeve: Chilean sea bass was on the menu; endangered, and difficult to ruin as a chef because of the high oil content. A 'top' restaurant should not have this item on its menu.
                                  Pink Adobe, on the other hand, was consistently good: lobster salad and the apple pie with hard rum sauce are must-haves.
                                  On to the Compound and Geronimo's later this weekend.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rnick

                                    I would not be going to any place in New Mexico to eat seafood and then judge a restaurant on how it prepares it. I also would not judge a place on service during Indian Market.

                                    1. re: LikestoEatout

                                      LETO: if it's on the menu at a restaurant charging those kinds of prices, it better be good. In my culinary experience, seafood in the interior of the country is often good, as it's flash-frozen on the boat and flown in: therefore no excuses. Martin Rios' departure has left a void. Every other restaurant we visited was top-notch. IOTA will not get a repeat visit. The Compound service and food was excellent; ditto with Geronimo's.

                                  2. We adore Geronimo's, but only one night??? El Shed, no question. enjoy, annie