Santa Fe - critique my picks
I will be in Santa Fe for two nights end of this month and early Jan. I will have two dinners and two breakfasts. I'm interested in inexpensive (just not upscale) mexican and/or new mexican. Here is what I've narrowed it down to:
Tomasita's - Mediocre at best. I don't get it but a lot of tourists do.
Los Potrillos - Excellent. Close to true regional Mexican instead of New Mexican
The Shed - Consistently good if not great. New Mexican with a twist.
Tune-Up Cafe - Never been there.
Tecolote Cafe - One of my favorites! Excellent.
Other suggestions: Horseman's Haven, The Plaza Restaurant, Tia Sophia, Mariscos Costa Azul
To be perfectly honest, I can't really wax ecstatic about any of the four dinner choices. Nothing remotely awful, mind you, but they're not in my high rotation either.
Of the four, the Shed is the one I'd recommend the most, especially for an out-of-towner. The food is always pretty good, the margaritas are great, and the setting is really lovely.
If you don't mind down and dirty, my favorite two New Mexican places (both under $10 an entree) are out near the mall. Los Amigos (on Rodeo Rd a few blocks east of Zafarano) and Flying Tortilla (actually in the mall parking lot) aren't much to look at, but the chow is about as good as I've had in this style. The tortillas and especially the chips seem consistently fresher at Los Amigos, my wife insists that the green and red chile are a tick better at Flying Tortilla. Los Amigos does margaritas, Flying Tortilla doesn't; that said, Flying Tortilla has the excellent Monks Ale on draft (and for under $3 a glass), made by the Benedictine monks in neighboring Pecos.
For breakfast, Flying Tortilla is again good, more for the Mexican stuff than the American. I actually love the breakfast burritos as Blake's Lotaburger, but it's just fast food. Cafe Pasqual's has a good reputation; I've only had the baked goods, which I thought were excellent. Harry's Roadhouse is a ways out of town, but a lot of fun and a really tasty breakfast.
Lived here for 15 years and eaten at Tomasita's once. For some reason tourists love it, but I don't know any locals that go there and I would not recommend it. Los Potrillos has some awesome stuff (the Tamal de Cazuela is one of my favorites) but it is definitely more traditional Mexican than New Mexican. There will probably be a mariachi band there on firday night. The Shed is amazing and has THE BEST red chile in town. You can buy bottles of the stuff to take home as a gift or as a reminder why you have to come back. Expect a wait at dinner though, although maybe not too bad in the off season. I haven't been to Tune-Up for dinner although I have eaten there almost once a week since they opened a year or two ago. It was recently voted best new restaurant by our local free weekly paper. Exceptionally good tea-smoked salmon benedict on sundays and a very good chile relleno that you can either get as a lunch dish or (my favorite) a breakfast dish with eggs on the side. The chef used to work at Pasquals and there are some similarities on certain dishes.
In response to the person recommending Flying Tortilla, I think it's sister restaurant, The Pantry, serves better food, although every dish is almost identical to the Flying Tortilla counterpart - it just seems to have a little more care taken in its prep. Another good Mexican choice is Adelita's - best chicken fajitas in town I think.
Horseman's Haven is very good but pretty greasy - they do have the best green chile around though. Oh and the Tia Sophia's recommendation is spot on although they close at 1:50 every day so get there for breakfast or lunch.
Funny people saying tourists only go to Tomasita's.
As a tourist I ended up there because I asked some locals where they liked to go and they said Tomasita's. I thought it was a good introduction to New Mexican cuisine and a very reasonable. So good we went twice on our three day visit to Santa Fe. Sure seemed like a lot of locals eating there to me.
Forgot to mention Guadalupe Cafe for either breakfast lunch or dinner - all around good New Mexican food with generally huge portions, great chile and good prices. Service can be a little hit and miss but the food is good.
I just came back from a trip to Santa Fe (if it helps, you can see a list of the places I ate and what I liked here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6717... ).
For breakfast I wouldn't miss La Plazuela in La Fonda Hotel. I don't normally care for hotel restaurants (an unfair bias I know), but this place makes an incredible breakfast. Seriously yummy huevos rancheros and posole, beautiful dining room, very reasonable prices. I also enjoyed breakfast at Tia Sophia's, which is a very good deal and a comfy place and relatively non-touristy for being so close to the plaza.
Also consider La Choza, The Shed's sister restaurant. It has a few more options and is a bit cheaper, but is otherwise comparable to the food at The Shed, although The Shed wins for ambiance.