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Jul 1, 2009 09:31 PM

Pre opera dinner in Santa Fe

But there's a catch... we're taking my 90 year old folks and they don't do New Mexican cuisine. I'm thinking The Compound, Ristra, Bistro 315..... ? What do you think? I would like it under $40 PP with a glass of wine or 1/2 bottle and dessert. They love Il Piatta and have already been to La Boca (good) and Santacafe (didn't like it), so something different. Nothing too trendy or frou frou (?), just good food and a nice atmosphere.

BTW, we're staying out at Buffalo Thunder resort so it doesn't need to be near the plaza.


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  1. Hi Deb,

    I'm a big fan of Cafe Pasqual's off Water Street. It has a huge and varied menu, with a lot of options for people who don't want Mexican. If you've never been there, it's a fun, colorful, cramped, and cheerful. And they have very good food.

    A more sedate option is Casa Sena (next door to the Shed), which has a fantastic patio. Their menu is sophisticated and not the standard New Mex fare. If you go there, pop into Los Todos Santos for a chocolate. Santacafe is similar with a great patio.

    I also like the Coyote Cafe's rooftop cafe. They have an elevator (in case stairs are a problem) and it's a great place for late afternoon margarita.

    It may be too casual for pre-opera, but El Farol on Canyon Rd. has a good menu with a lot of tapas. Have fun!
    Here's a link to some other ideas:

    1. How about French? Paris Cafe on Burro Alley around the corner from the Lensic. Andiamo! is a new favorite of mine.

      322 Garfield Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

      Cafe Paris
      31 Burro Alley St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

      1. We've done a "picnic" at the site - kinda' like tailgating, and we brought a folding table, chairs and wine. I am at a loss to come up with the name of the caterer, but they are located in the Plaza, on the north side, near the soap shop (Soap Opera?). They also have a tiny wine shop in that location. We ordered in the AM and they had our order on site. Maybe someone can fill in the missing memory of this old guy.

        Anyway, the food was always great and very fairly priced. Doing a picnic at sunset at the venue was a real positive for us.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          The SFO website has the caterer's contact info.

        2. Bistro 315 would have been a great choice, but it is closed for remodeling. I think the Compound is too expensive for your stated budget. Ristra could be a great choice, but I would recommend the O'Keeffe Cafe. They got a new chef last year and the food finally matches the excellent wine list; and the patio is outstanding. Since your parents are in their 90's, they would have an easier time hearing on the patio here, as well.

          I will disagree with the recommendation of Casa Sena. The patio is probably the best in town, but the food is erratic and expensive. Some of the other recommendations, such as Pasqual's and Andiamo, have great food, but the noise level could be a problem for your folks.

          A final suggestion would be to look at the Pasatiempo supplement to the Friday issue of The New Mexican and look at all of the great prix fixe bargains that are being offered by many of the good restaurants now. You can get an excellent three course dinner for around $25, so with a glass of wine and tip, you could be at $40 per person.

          1. I think your best bet would be El Nido in Tesuque, about 5 minutes from the opera. Solid American food (steak, seafood,etc. ) nice adobe setting, plenty of locals, professional staff, and in your price range.A pre opera institution for 30 years.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dpbabq

              Thanks for all the great suggestions! I am now considering the O-Keefe Cafe and maybe Ristra. For various reasons tailgating is out of the question. I'd like to consider El Nido, but it really doesn't seem to get good reviews.

              lp, can you provide a link to the prix fixe deals? I can't find anything on line in the Pasatiempo. I had a previous post looking for prix fixe places, but really didn't get any leads. You are right, my folks do prefer the smaller, less noisy places although they managed fine at La Boca and they do love Pasqual's.

              Keep the ideas coming. I need to hurry and make reservations!

              1. re: abqdeb

                This is a link to today's Pasatiempo,, but I don't know if you can see each page. My wife told me that Ristra had an ad for a $25 prix fixe. If you can't pick up a copy of today's New Mexican and physically look at Pasatiempo, I don't have another suggestion. If you don't know this, you can make reservations at a number of the good restaurants here at

                I concur with your judgment on El Nido. Their green chile cheeseburger is among the best in town, but most people I know give it double thiumbs down for anything else.

                I hope you and your folks have a great meal, where ever it is!

                1. re: abqdeb

                  We have dined at O'Keefe Cafe on two occasions, though not prior to the Opera, and have greatly enjoyed it both times. Loved the food, and the wines. Though the list is smallish, it was well thought out.

                  Enjoy, and please report, as it was a full year ago, since we last dined there.