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Nov 18, 2008 04:12 PM

Non-New Mex advice in Santa Fe and other ?

Hi all

I'm in the early planning stages of a trip to New Mexico (set for next June), but IMO, it's never too early to start thinking about restaurants and anything food related.

I'm certainly planning to eat mostly NM type food while in New Mexico, but I'm sure I'm going to want a break from all that yummy stuff at some point. I'm considering the following:

La Boca
Bistro 315
Mu Du Noodles

I know I can easily find these types of cuisines in NY, but on the other hand, these are popular places with locals and they happen to serve (apparently) very good food. Therefore, I'm sure I will be very happy with any of these. I know that they are completely different types of cuisines, so comparing them would be like comparing apples to oranges. Nonetheless, for my purpose (taking a break from the chile-oriented, sort of heavy NM cooking I will be eating), which would you recommend? Of course, if you have other suggestions, I'd welcome them.

I would also love it if you could review some of the restaurants below and let me know what you think. I realize I can't possibly eat at all of these places, but I'm having a good time researching this stuff anyway - it will be heartbreaking to weed some places out. Anything with a star means it's practically a must for me.

Harry's Roadhouse*
Bobcat Bite*
Cafe Pasqual's*
The Plaza*
Tecolote Cafe*
La Choza
El Paragua
Gabriel's (possibly, if I'm going back to SF after Bandelier)
Bert's La Taqueria
Los Potrillos (for authentic, delicious Mexican, which is better - Bert's or Los Potrillos?)
Sugar Nymph's (on the High Road to Taos)

Roque's Carnitas (in case I just want a light lunch on the go)

I'm sure I'm missing a few, but offhand, I can't think of any. I will say that breakfast is the meal I am most looking forward too. I love a good breakfast and SF appears to be a great breakfast town.

I have one question about Coyote Cafe - ordinarily I never would have considered this restaurant, given the ups and downs it's had, but it seems Eric DiStefano has really made a difference. I read, initially, great reviews of CC, but now I'm hearing that there have been some more mixed reviews. Is CC still a must-do?

Thanks so much!!!

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  1. One of my most cherished destinations....wonderful Santa Fe.
    I'm curious why you have not listed 'Geronimo' on Canyon Road. It is one of the most wonderful dining experiences....the food is remarkable from start to finish and the setting is magical. I'm very partial to the place especially for dinner before the opera.
    Coyote Cafe has gone through some changes...however, having said that, it's still the best rib-eye I have ever had....anywhere/anytime.
    For local, authentic Mexican food in The Plaza....try Tia Sophia for breakfast... the locals are a constant and the sopopias with local honey are unforgettable.

    12 Replies
    1. re: latindancer

      Latindancer, before I started researching this trip, Geronimo was at the top of my list. I'd heard about Martin Rios and I wanted to try his cooking. However, there are almost no recent reviews of Geronimo on the web and the restaurant isn't even on-line at this point. I have not been able to figure out just what kind of food is being served at Geronimo ...except in an article I read where Rios described his cooking as combining the influences of various cuisines AND scientific experiments (foams, etc...). I've had so-called scientific cooking only once in my life (Alinea, in Chicago, which was absolutely spectacular), but I'm really of no mind to try it again, esp. not in Santa Fe. If I'm wrong about Geronimo, please - tell me more.

      I can't wait to try the Plaza - I wish we had more places like this where I live. I've never tried sopaipillas before - a new taste treat which I'm sure I will miss desperately once I come home to NY.

      Thanks for the tips - I will put Tia Sophia's on my list. My list is growing every day, unfortunately, lol.

      ****just checked - Geronimo's dinner/dessert menus are up. I guess I was wrong - yummy! Should I put Geronimo's back on top of my list? What about the Compound?

      I will also be going to Albuquerque, but I've got that down to a choice few (I will only be in ABQ for a couple of days, most likely):

      Mary & Tito's
      Model Pharmacy
      Slate and/or Jennifer James 101

      1. re: Betsypaige

        Skip Tia Sophia, it's not locals lining up, it's tourists. My opinion, it's mediocre. The Plaza Restaurant is much, much better and Tecolote Cafe on Cerrillos Rd is where you'll really find locals and great food. The Compound is stellar, Geronimo has fallen big time. For Italian, I'd suggest Il Piatti. For tequila, Maria's has a great selection.

        And, I can't help myself latindancer, they are sopapillas, not sopopias. They just *sound* like sopopias. And the ones at the Plaza are stellar.

        1. re: chowmix

're right about the mistake and I'm imagining you just 'couldn't help yourself'...
          Actually I live in Santa Fe a few months throughout the year. Tia Sophia continues to be a local favorite and during the off season, where tourists are far and few between, breakfast is one of the favorites... To each his/her own but
          Geronimo, up until a about 2 weeks ago, continues to serve some of the most finest food in Santa Fe....the elk is the best I've ever had anywhere.

          1. re: latindancer

            I'm a big fan of Tia Sophia too, especially for breakfast. We try to get there right when they open, plenty of locals there then.

            1. re: latindancer

              My last visit to Santa Fe was in August and I didn't have a great experience at Geronimo. My preference for that high of an end is The Compound. By the way, for opera, we have been tailgating for years. It's a great experience - you should try it sometime. Besides, getting there early gets you better parking!

            2. re: chowmix

              hmm, sopaipillas.....can't wait to try them!

              Tecolote Cafe is one of my "must-dos" - even before I knew they were on the Food Network, I wanted to go here. I've heard about their delicious bakery baskt....yum! I would consider Il Piatti if I didn't live in an area where there are scores of Italian restaurants - I almost never go to an Italian restaurant when I go on vacation because I have it all the time. I can't wait to try the Plaza - I've heard so much about it and I do love this locals' places. I don't eat anywhere else on vacation- all my choices are based on locals' recommendations.

              1. re: Betsypaige

                Um, you may want to reconsider that. Check out Tecolote's most recent health inspection:
                The word "slimy" is a disqualifier, IMHO.

                1. re: jjones21

                  Thanks for posting that, JJones. I don't think that's a disqualifier for me just yet.......

                  1. re: jjones21

                    Jeez! If I had to base my dining selections on those health department reports, I'd never go to any restaurant! Sometimes things are better left unseen. Unless, of course, there's a trail of bodies leading from the front door to the curb. That might discourage me. Or, I could just be in South Central.

                    1. re: chowmix

                      For me it's the trail of rodents and their droppings that discourage me, whether witnessed or written up....and no area in the world is exempt from that one...

              2. re: Betsypaige

                Betsy....enjoy your visit to Santa Fe.
                I know what I enjoy in this magnificent place and not everyone is going to agree on the same things when it comes to food....the same thing goes for art.
                Geronimo is one of my favorite places to go when I'm in Santa Fe....I live in this wonderful , magical place, several months throughout the year, and I suppose the many dinners I've had with friends from Santa Fe and friends who fly in for the many art shows is what makes this place special to me. All the staff is educated in what goes in to every dish and when they pass it on to the customer it is a very special touch. If you decide to go please do yourself a favor and try the elk. It's one of their specials and very memorable.
                June is a great time to go....anytime before or after Indian Market is suggested. I love the winters.
                Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!

                1. re: latindancer

                  Latindancer, I'm already half in love with SF already; that happens to me when I plan vacations. In my mind, I'm already planning my return trip!
                  I will put Geronimo back on my list - if I don't get to it this time, I will the next. I enjoy "splurge" restaurants on occasion (can't afford them all the time, lol) because the whole experience (food, the most important, service, etc.....) is special. I feel good after an evening of fine dining - I also feel relaxed, which is nice, since most of the time I'm on the go.

            3. La Boca is a great choice! El Paragua's original location is in Espanola and IMO can't be beaten for New Mexican cuisine, especially the tacos! The secret is potatoes in the filling.

              5 Replies
              1. re: grantham

                Is El Paragua an easy drive from SF? I really, really love eating authentic foods, no matter the ethnicity so I think El Paragua is probably a must for me. Potatoes in tacos? wow and yum - potatoes are just about my most favorite food in the world!

                Latindancer, desserts will be the downfall of me......and I LOVE pastries!

                1. re: Betsypaige

                  A must in downtown Santa Fe is the French Pastry Shop, located in the La Fonda hotel. And my all time favorite restaurant in Santa Fe is Guadalupe Cafe on Old Santa Fe Trail. The wait is WORTH it! I was born and raised downtown Santa Fe, when I go home I never miss either one.

                  1. re: NMChica82

                    oh boy, I see a substantial weight gain in my future, lol. Thanks for the tips, NMChica - I'll put them on my list!

                  2. re: Betsypaige

                    Yes, El Paragua in Espanola is approximately than a 30 minute drive. There is now a taco stand on the way to Espanola, run by members of the same family, which also has great tamales. The stand is very near the Kokoman's wine/liquor store.

                    1. re: grantham

                      30 minutes? Not bad........I don't mind driving for good food. I think the same family owns El Parasol which is next to El Pargua.......I know there is a branch of EP in Santa Fe. I haven't had tamales very often, but I love them.......can't wait to try them for real (I'm sure they taste better in NM than in NY, lol)

                2. Almost forgot.
                  If you love fabulous pastries 'Cafe Paris' on Burro Alley is a must.

                  1. The Compound, while admittedly pricey, is an experience not to be missed!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: grantham

                      Thanks for the input, Grantham! I can't get over how beautiful a restaurant The Compound is. I don't mind pricey on occasion - I always do at least one splurge on vacation. I'm probably still leaning towards Coyote Cafe at this point, but I've got plenty of time to make up my mind. I may decided to have lunch at The Compound - that would solve the "problem".

                      1. re: Betsypaige

                        I second both French Pastry Shop and The Cafe Paris - both are great. The Cafe has frogs legs mmmmmmmmm.

                        Add this to your list: Tesuque Village Market for breakfast and/ or lunch. It is on Bishop Lodge Road,and Rt 22 north of Santa Fe. Combine it with a trip/tour at Shidoni Brass Foundry and Galleries



                        1. re: DebitNM

                          Tesuque Village Market is a definite as is Shidoni - looking forward to that. I looove french pastries. Frog's legs? Let's just say they're not for me. My restaurant/cafe/food shop list for SF (and for ABQ for that matter) is getting to be the size of a dictionary, lol.

                          1. re: Betsypaige

                            Sorry Besty, here some more threads for you. They have my favorites in ABQ


                            And Cafe Paris has lots of other wonderful items besides frogs legs




                            1. re: DebitNM

                              They certainly do, DebitNM, and their quiche is really quite extraordinary...

                              1. re: DebitNM

                                No need to apologize - thanks for directing me to other threads that I likely have missed.

                                LOL I figured Cafe Paris has other things besides frogs legs....I love good french bistro food. I'm going to be in SF for maybe 5 or 6 days, so with that amount of time, I may have more than one "non-NM" meal. I'd like to be able to fit Cafe Paris in to my "itinerary". You put together a very comprehensive list - that's really helpful and I appreciate the work you must have put into that.

                                Latindancer........quiche? yum!

                                1. re: Betsypaige

                                  LOL....yes, quiche....really wonderful, delicate flavorful quiche.
                                  I suppose any food eaten at a leisurely pace, while on vacation...relaxed without a care in the world, enjoying a bottle of wonderful wine, will taste fabulous...especially at a 7,300 foot altitude!
                                  I think alot of people, unknowingly, are walking around a little dazed, dehydrated, delirious and tipsy.
                                  Drink lots of water, Betsy, before and during your wonderful, exciting, educational and memorable trip to Santa Fe.
                                  The quiche is magnificent...:).

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    I love water - it's almost all I drink, so that's no problem. When I went to Colorado a few years ago, I went to Denver to acclimate first - before going on to higher elevations. I'm doing the same with Albuquerque - I'll spend a couple of days there before moving on. I hardly every drink, so although I may be dazed and delirious, I won't be tipsy, lol

                                    1. re: Betsypaige

                                      A couple of thoughts....
                                      Mauka, on Agua Fria st. is one of my favorite spots, period. Do not miss.The chef/owner was formerly the chef at MuDU Noodles, (also a Great place.)
                                      Ditto for Andiamo.
                                      Geronimo, other than the Elk, is a miss. Overpriced, full of tourists, and poor service extraordinare.
                                      Compound is a better choice across the board if you want a fancy priced meal.
                                      El Paragua in Espanola is a favorite of mine, about a half hour north from the SF plaza. They also have several to-go only places in SF, one on Cerrillos Rd., called ElParasol, and another in Pojoaque, and one in Los Alamos which is eat in.(I would go there rather than Gabriel's after Bandalier.)
                                      The chicken Guacamole tacos are sublime.

                                      Sugar Nymphs has one of the best green chile cheeseburgers I have ever had; and wonderful pies too.

                                      1. re: kennythepig

                                        Hi Kenny

                                        I usually don't go to Italian restaurants while on vacation because I get enough Italian at home, but I have to admit that Andiamo sounds yummy!

                                        I've heard great things about Mauka - I'll check out the menu. I may do Compound for lunch - I know I can't go to every restaurant on my list!

                                        I'm really eager to try El Paragua -and I've heard good things about El Parasol. I wasn't aware that they had a branch in Los Alamos - that's a great possibility for me. Chicken guacamole tacos? oh, that sounds soooo good.

                                        Yes, I've heard wonderful things about Sugar Nymph.....and especially the pies. I looooooove a good pie.

                                        Kenny, thanks for the great tips!