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Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

In Santa Fe for the next few days. Been reading Chowhound, Yelp, dining guides, blogs, etc, trying to decide where to eat. I generally shy away from fine dining in resort/tourist dominated areas. I've found that it's usually over-priced and can't compete with the quality of top tier dining destinations like NY, Chicago, or San Francisco, or even top restaurants in lesser food cities like Seattle, DC, or Houston. But people keep insisting that the fine dining is truly good here and my first meal in town at La Choza was so mediocre I'm a little scared of the more pedestrian eats now, too. (And I don't think I'll bother with The Shed now, which seems to be the most recommended restaurant on CH for SF.)

Looking through menus of recommended spots, such as Geronimo and Coyote Cafe, I'm becoming disheartened. It's like these chefs never left the '90s (or '80s). Ingredients flown in from all over the world put together in a chaotic fashion with fusiony this and that?

Was looking at the Ristra menu, thinking from the name and the description on the website that they might actually, "capture the simple and powerful spirit of New Mexico through its decor, ambiance and cuisine." But the menu doesn't seem New Mexican at all -- chipotles, ahi tuna, orzo, etc. And the the topper: chilean sea bass. Talk about the '90s! From the ingredient list, the menu would make more sense in the Polanco District of Mexico City. I had a harder time telling with Anasazi. Looked more modern, more of a New American fusion with Mediterranean dishes using Southwest seasonal ingredients, perhaps.

Is there a place trying harder to do some thing seasonal emphasizing local traditions and foods? Or, I'd just be happy with a place making classic New Mexican fare with top quality ingredients and a really good palate behind the scenes.

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La Choza Restaurant
905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

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  1. I am going to take a stab at this, though you seem to be really having issues with food here.

    Higher end places tend to be more eclectic takes on Southwestern rather than traditional New Mexican. Friends just had dinner at Geronimo's and raved about it. We are having dinner tomorrow at The Compound.

    New Mexican, the stuff you are looking for is more often than not, found in small, hole in the wall, out of the way places.

    We really like Vinaigrette for nice salads for lunch. We like Andiamo! for reasonably priced, good Italian. We have had great meals at Restaurant Martin, Max's and 315 Wine Bistro. The O'Keeffe Cafe also provided a lovely dinner recently.

    Try this for more ideas:
    http://nmgastronome.com/blog/?page_id...

    Gil has a pretty good palate, though I do disagree with his findings sometimes.

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    Andiamo
    322 Garfield Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
    315 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    O'Keeffe Cafe
    217 Johnson Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    Vinaigrette
    709 Don Cubero Aly, Santa Fe, NM 87505

    Restaurant Martin
    526 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    Max's - Santa Fe
    403 1/2 S. Guadalupe, Santa Fe, NM 87501

    13 Replies
    1. re: DebitNM

      I think you should try The Burrito Company!

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      Burrito Company
      111 Washington Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

      1. re: DebitNM

        I'm not asking for traditional New Mexican in the case of fine dining.

        I understand that it's nearly impossible for a restaurateur to do a traditional cuisine upscale because of the backlash from the pricing required to support a fine dining staff, rent, and buildout, plus the costs of purchasing quality ingredients. That will usually result in the need to "add value" to the dishes by removing traditional ingredients and adding more flashy ones to create things like lobster enchiladas. Instead of going back to the home cooking traditions that made a cuisine great and just doing everything really well with perhaps a more modern presentation, you get some hybrid monstrosity that may or may not work but justifies the prices.

        I'm not looking for that, really. And I'm not expecting to find the upscale traditional New Mexican food either. (Although of all the places I've looked at, Pasqual's seems to be trying hardest to provide that.) I'm asking for a place that focuses on local or regional seasonal ingredients, primarily, with perhaps some nod to local traditions as well. Fine dining has taken two directions in the last decade or so: 1) towards "molecular gastronomy", pushing the envelope on form, primarily, and 2) towards the dream of people like Alice Waters, where local and seasonal concerns dominate, where chefs team up with local farmers to supply a large portion of their product. The sort of eclectic menus depending on a high FedEx budget like I see at Coyote and Geronimo are, thankfully, the past.

        Ristra and Anasazi would seemingly be doing a bit of that if this was Mexico not New Mexico.

        Look, I know my posts are provocative. I can be nice, but I was working 16 hours a day helping someone open a restaurant prior to this vacation, so I didn't take the time I normally do to research far in advance. Instead, I'm looking for recommendations quickly and I want to be clear about what I want and don't want.

        My list currently looks like this:

        NEW MEXICAN
        Pasqual's, Atrisco, Los Amigos, Tia Sophia's, Campanario, Maria's

        GCCB
        Bobcat Bite, Bert's, Cowgirl, Parasol

        UPSCALE MEXICAN
        Epazote, Ristra, Anasazi

        FINE DINING
        ???

        btw, La Choza was second only to Frontier as far as worst New Mexican meals so far. Obviously, it was only one meal at any of these places, but still, that one meal was not good. The chile relleno and sopaipillas were worst of the trip so far. The chile seemed unseasoned, the batter thin and soggy. I couldn't taste anything but cheese with the enchiladas. Everything was very thinly sauced. It was hard to get a taste of the green or red chile by itself. Posole was much worse than at other places. Best item was the carne adovada, though the meat was a bit dry. But it was one of the better versions I've had. But compared to the places I've been so far in Albuquerque, plus La Cocina and Orlando's in Taos, only Frontier was a worse meal, but at least the cinnamon roll and tortillas were good there.

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        Bobcat Bite Restaurant
        420 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

        La Choza Restaurant
        905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

        Tia Sophia's
        210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

        Atrisco Cafe and Bar
        193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

        1. re: extramsg

          We are coming out in June. These have been recommended to me for upscale finer dinning (as mentioned above):

          maxssantafe.com
          restaurantmartinsantafe.com/

          I have been warned that Epazote is not very good.

          1. re: Grog

            I can vouch for Restaurant Martin; up there with the best in the "high end dining" category.

            That said, Max's is my current favorite of all. Probably the most innovative cooking in Santa Fe this minute. Note that is quite small, Tables are close and reservations are a must.

            As to Epazote, I haven't been though I have heard both good and not-so-good comments. Owner also owns Burt's Burger Bowl, btw. Over the years he has made it a point to not serve New Mexican food but to serve sophisticated Mexican food, usually featuring food from Mexico City particularly.

          2. re: extramsg

            extramsg, I don't think the molecular gastronomy movement ever got a foothold here in mostly rural New Mexico. It may be getting past it's prime now elsewhere too.

            New Mexican consumer's of New Mexican food do not expect their Chile to be "seasoned". In fact, in many quarters, a hint of cumin in New Mexico red is considered heretical.

            Also, expecting local and seasonal food to show up on menus here at this time of year is problematic primarily because of the location and the season. Albuquerque is a mile high, Santa Fe and Taos higher still, and late spring is not really harvest season in mountain or desert. I wish I could help with Santa Fe recs, but I don't have much knowledge to impart, except overheard strongly negative feelings many have expressed about Cowgirl. Since you probably want to maximize your positive experience time, I would suggest you skip that one.

            If you were still in Albuquerque, or when you come back through, you could try Los Equipales for upscale Mexican mexican. It is quite good "for Albuquerque". Agree with you on Frontier, it is a nostalgic College student hangout with good people watching, but mostly mediocre food.

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            Los Equipales
            4500 Silver Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108

            1. re: rpl

              When I say "poorly seasoned" I mean lacking salt.

              Thanks for the recs.

              btw, went to Bobcat Bite and Harry's Roadhouse for lunch today. Both GCCB were quite tasty, although the meat and skill in the kitchen at Bobcat Bite was phenomenal. That place has earned all its many accolades. The burger was extremely juicy, cooked perfectly, nicely seared, and just excellent. I'd eat a plain burger there and be happy. If I got the GCCB again, though, I'd probably get an extra side the green chile just because it's such a fat burger, the green chile doesn't always come through. Good service, too.

              Harry's was also a quality burger, though obviously a step down, but the green chile was more prominent and I liked the aged cheddar for balance. We also got a special of a tomato, corn, and tarragon savory pie that was quite good. The mixture inside was tasty and the crust, perhaps whole wheat, had a very good texture and flavor that matched well with the stuffing. We also got strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert and it was probably the best of the things we got. The crust was very flaky and hearty and the strawberry rhubarb mixture wasn't overly sweet. We were stuffed when this came and still ate every bite.

              Two dinners tonight, but not sure where yet.

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              Bobcat Bite Restaurant
              420 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

              Harry's Roadhouse
              96B Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

              1. re: extramsg

                Did indeed do two dinners:

                First was at Atrisco. Probably the best carne adovada yet. Intense red chile but didn't ever become tinny or too harsh, more just spicy. The meat was tender and not dry at all. Relleno was interesting. It had good flavor, though the batter was a bit soggy. However, it had some breadcrumbs that gave some crunch. Green had lots of chunks of chile but needed some salt to bring out the flavor more. Salt was an issue here. Not sure if it's just tonight. Beans and posole were also under-salted. Blue corn enchilada was very cheesy (subbed cheese for chicken) but the tortilla was good. Better sopaipilla than La Choza, but still not worth eating without honey. Tasted like whole wheat maybe. Taco meat had flavor, but I hate pre-formed shells.

                Other meal was at Los Amigos. Like Atrisco, sides suffered, but even worse. Beans had no flavor and rice was very mushy and needed salt badly. Adovado seemed more Mex or Tex-Mex with a lot of complex, meaty sauce with a heavy dose of cumin. I did get some red on the side just to taste it and it had a very straight ahead red flavor with just a little too much harsh aftertaste, mostly just a full mouth heat. Tamal was decent, but needed seasoning. Light and good texture, though. Enchilada was mushy. Relleno was tasty. It almost seemed like there was cream cheese inside. It was runnier and tangier than normal. Maybe cheese and sour cream or Mexican sour cream mixed? White cheese sauce? Batter was a little soggy. Very good sopaipilla -- best in Santa Fe so far. It was huge and pillowy with a nice yeasty flavor. It was served warm and flaky. I could have eaten it w/out honey and been happy.

                Saw a truck called Los Dogos while driving up Cerrillos. Anyone tried it? Perhaps Sonoran hot dogs? Couldn't find anything online. Also saw a place called Guisos. Read about it and it sounds like they do tacos de guisados/guisos with handmade tortillas. Guisos/guisados, for those unfamiliar, are Mexican homestyle preapred foods, usually stews and stir fries. Carne adovada, especially when saucy, would be a guiso, eg. Anyone tried this place? Only two reviews online on Yelp that I could find.

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                La Choza Restaurant
                905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

                Atrisco Cafe and Bar
                193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                1. re: extramsg

                  Never seen the Los Dogos truck open; think it is just parked there. I'm in the nearby movie theatre often so I'm always hoping... really want a Tuscon-type Sonoran Hot Dog.

                  1. re: fyfas

                    It says "Juarez-style" on the truck. Not sure what that means -- perhaps a front for drug trafficking and hit squads? (Kidding, of course.) I think they're just bacon-wrapped.

              2. re: rpl

                btw, I saw a place across the corner from Pasqual's that from the menu appeared to be somewhat what I'm looking for. It's called Tabla de Los Santos or something like that. Anyone tried it?

                1. re: extramsg

                  I posted a lengthy (very positive) note in April; it's now on page 2 here.

                  I've enjoyed this chef's excellent food for more than 20 years when he had a highly acclaimed restaurant in Southern California. He is a Santa Fe native, come home. In California he was partnered with another New Mexico native who is still a big deal in California, Jonn Sedlar.

                  I cannot recommend Tabla de Los Santos highly enough.

              3. re: extramsg

                I think you would like Cafe Martin. It is pleasant, upscale, fresh ingredients, slight SW touch. It is iwner by Martin Rios who was at The Old House for many years. Nice outdoor garden it that fits.

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                The Old House Restaurant
                309 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                1. re: NewYorkNewMexico

                  Actually, it is Restaurant Martin, not Cafe Martin.

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                  Restaurant Martin
                  526 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM 87501

            2. Tomasita's is hands down, the beacon for New Mexican food in Santa Fe. Tia Sophia's and Tomasitas are owned by the same family. I would recommend a breakfast burrito one mornng from Tia's and save the lunch or dinner for Tomasita's.

              -----
              Tia Sophia's
              210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

              Tomasita's
              500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

              7 Replies
              1. re: dontcallmethefword

                I think Atrisco Cafe, the place I went tonight, is also related to Tia Sophia's and Tomasita's. Have no clue how the three differ in menu, recipes, quality, etc.

                -----
                Tia Sophia's
                210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                Tomasita's
                500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                Atrisco Cafe and Bar
                193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                1. re: extramsg

                  Atrisco's in my opinion is not the best of the three. Its a re-birthing of a place that was shut down, owned by one of the family members, formerly diego's. I think Tomasita's just offers a better, fresher product and the best green chili I have ever had. Plus the silver coin margherita there is top notch. Each of the three is operated by an individual family member. They are related, but each family member puts their own twist, standards and recipe/menu variations that are specific to their establishment. Tia's takes the breakfast and people swear by the Shed and Guadelupe cafe, they're good, but no Tomasita's. Let me just say this, every time I go to visit my parents in Santa Fe I order the a gallon of green chili and a gallon of red chili from there, freeze it and pack it in a cooler to fly back to New York with me.

                  -----
                  Tomasita's
                  500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                  Atrisco Cafe and Bar
                  193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                  1. re: dontcallmethefword

                    Went to Tomasita's tonight for second dinner. Got a decent sopaipilla to start. Loved that they served honey butter with it. It could have been crisper, but was flaky. It got tough as it cooled. Sides were mostly good. Rice, pintos, and refritos were all seasoned well and cooked properly. Enchiladas were stacked, had a nice modest proportion of cheese, and weren't soggy. Got them red. The red here was intense, creamy, and thick, though a bit harsh/bitter, but not tinny. Rellenos didn't have much cheese inside and the batter was a little burnt yet soggy. The green has lots of chunks of chile with a pretty straight-forward green chile flavor and nothing else. They only do carne adovada on Fridays, unfortunately. I've been having better luck with adovadas in Santa Fe.

                    First dinner was at Campanario. Sides weren't too good. Rice was much too mushy and the beans lacked flavor. Posole tasted okay, but the kernels themselves were rough and a little undercooked. The sopaipilla wasn't crisp or flaky but had a decent flavor. The carne adovada was a bit over-salted, but the flavor of the sauce was complex, meaty, and delicious. The chunks of meat were tender and juicy. I got a little red on the side, which was intense and just slightly tinny, but not bad. Flour tortilla was fat and well-browned, pretty enjoyable. The relleno tasted nice but it was soggy. One was a little burnt, too. Enchiladas were a bit heavy on cheese, but not too soft. The green had a lot of chunks of chile and a deceptive heat that built. It needed salt, though.

                    btw, also hit Guisos earlier in the day. Nice menu. Lady is from Mexico City where guisos/guisados are popular in fondas and street stalls. They have maybe 10 or so to choose from and make their tortillas, sopes, and gorditas by hand. Tacos were $1.50 each. All of the ones we had -- lengua en salsa verde, bistek en chile pasilla, tinga, and cerdo en adobo -- were good, but not great. You'd get better from most street stands in Mexico. But it's definitely a worthwhile stop for authentic homestyle Mexican from Central Mexico.

                    Lunch was at Pasqual's. Despite a wait and ridiculous prices that include $11 mimosas and $14 breakfast burritos, the food we had was definitely good. We tried to stick to classics, though some of the creative items was definitely tempting. We got the blue corn enchiladas, which were stacked, with a nice proportion of cheese. We got this Christmas. The green was creamy with chunks and was very delicious, well-seasoned, with lots of flavor. The red wasn't really like any of the others I've had so far. It was darker, like it was made with a blend of chiles that including something darker like an ancho or pasilla. It had a sweet undertone with a touch of tanginess. Much more complex than most reds. I don't know if it can actually be categorized as one. Cilantro rice was very light, more like couscous. Black beans were excellent with a terrific pot licker surround whole beans. We also got a very good green chili cheeseburger. The meat was cooked very nicely, almost over-charred. Poppy seeded bun was toasted well and held up throughout. Lots of cheese and big slices of roasted green chiles. We got the apple-fennel salad on the side and it was also delicious. They gave us a ginger cookie when we bought a t-shirt and it was also quite good.

                    -----
                    Cafe Pasqual's
                    121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                    Tomasita's
                    500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                2. re: dontcallmethefword

                  "Tomasita's is hands down, the beacon for New Mexican food in Santa Fe."

                  Huh ? Whew ! Sorry. IMO not even a contender.

                  1. re: fyfas

                    Well, among other things, everyone has an opinion. But I'm with you, fyfas. ;-)

                    1. re: Erich

                      Where is the beacon?

                      I read through Fyfas's posts after this comment above and I couldn't find much besides the high end places being recommended. I remember Fyfas recommending the Shed/Choza combo, but most people seem to say Choza is better than The Shed and the meal I had at Choza was marred by bad service, higher than normal prices, and probably the worst New Mexican food of the places I tried in Santa Fe. I didn't think my meal at Tomasita's was worse overall than my meals at Los Amigos, Atrisco, or Campanario.

                      -----
                      Tomasita's
                      500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                      Atrisco Cafe and Bar
                      193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                      1. re: extramsg

                        Your correct, most of what I've said in the past has been about the top restaurants. It's mostly because often the question being asked has to do with someone celebrating something or wanting a life-altering dining experience. Just trying to be helpful to visitors; The first time I visited, I knew I would live here one day and I'm glad that I do.

                        When you do live here, many more of the away-from-home meals are NOT high end dining. So I've been to Atrisco several times at the urging of or dragged by serious "foodie" friends (cookbook authors Bill and Cheryl Jamison lobbied hard on behalf of Atrisco's Green Chile Chesseburger as Best-In-The-State for New Mexico magazine). I like the food a lot; a few times service was iffy.

                        I like both The Shed and La Choza. The Shed is typically filled with people who are visiting while La Choza is where the locals go. I've not had a bad meal at either nor poor service.

                        I like Castro's on Cerrillos road a lot for New Mexican. At the moment it is probably my favorite New Mexican..

                        For Mexican, I like Los Petrillos, also on Cerrillos Road, a bit closer to town. About every ten days I must have their Shrimp Tacos (hold the potatoes, bring me extra rice). I don't usually want tacos but these are addictive for me. Their menu offers a wide range of common-people items; many which I've never seen elsewhere.

                        I'm not a fan of Los Amigos; it's better than Tomasita's though, just not much better.

                        And finally, I've never heard of Companario but will try it soon.

                        Love this thread and what you've made it.

                3. Extramsg,

                  I've been reading your posts and hope you won't mind if I touch on some points that seem to keep coming up.

                  First of all, I think the category of restaurant you're hoping to find doesn't do well here as a rule. In the twelve years I've lived in NM on and off, any time someone has tried to open the kind of restaurant you're looking for – fresh, local ingredients made with traditional methods, but with fresh eyes (and at a somewhat higher price point) -- the place has gone out of business within two years. Cafe Pasqual's is the only place of long standing I can think of that's doing that sort of thing (and I usually don't go there because the wait is so crazy, the food seems a bit overpriced, and the staff can be obnoxious).

                  The thing is, New Mexico is a poor state and has been for a long time. Even in Santa Fe, we don't have the large population of 20- and 30-somethings with lots of disposable income, worldly palates and no time to cook, who keep a hard-core restaurant culture alive and on trend. The best New Mexican food is still going to be found in somebody’s house, not a restaurant.

                  And, unlike most of the other poorest states in the Union, NM has never had an extended period when it was flush with cash. Most of our farmers had to switch over to single, exportable commodity crops decades ago, and traditional local agriculture is only just now beginning to be resuscitated. So, for the last couple hundred years anyway, the food tradition here has been less about fresh and local than about making the best of not so great ingredients. Canned stuff, commercial lard, white flour tortillas and government cheese are part of the NM food tradition. In that sense, it has more in common with reservation food, or even Irish food, than real Mexican food. You’re not going to get the bold intensity and contrast levels of Mexican food either, as the cuisine here is softened by the taste preferences of the original Native American inhabitants and about two hundred years of steady German settlement. Original Pueblo and Dine’ cooking is lovely, mild and subtle.

                  Things are changing, and it seems like every year the restaurants get better and more “conscious”. I totally agree with you about what’s missing in the NM restaurant scene. But an irony of recent food culture in America seems to me to be that the more the restaurants in a place go “local”, the fewer local people there seem to be in that place. To me, one comes to love New Mexican food in conjunction with coming to love New Mexican people and the deeply quirky, live and let live ethos of this state. I’m glad people here don’t really care if their restaurants are too ‘Nineties.

                  That said, maybe when your current venture is comfortably on its legs, you’ll consider coming here and opening just the kind of restaurant you’ve been looking for. I’m sure a lot of local Chowhounds (me included) will welcome it with open arms.

                  Thanks for your posts. They made me think.

                  Ninrn

                  -----
                  Cafe Pasqual's
                  121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: ninrn

                    That all makes sense. I think it's the case in most places with an actual cuisine. There are probably exceptions, maybe New Orleans, eg, but it's a common problem. In truth, I had a harder time in Vermont & Montreal than I had in New Mexico finding places that a) made the traditional cuisine, and b) made an effort to do it well. I do think it's sad with the farmers markets available and with a real local cuisine, unlike my home town which doesn't have one, that the upscale restaurants in Santa Fe don't make more of an effort to make foster that and make less "southwest" cuisine that would be as at home in Scottsdale or Dallas as it is in Santa Fe. Or worse, the global stuff that looks like an effort to mimic NY. Santa Fe, unlike many places, has the ability to truly make something unique that speaks to the local traditions. I hope when I return there's more of that.

                    Mostly I was just being provocative to try to promote an "I'll show you" attitude and get some quick, useful discussion going rather than just a list of the usual suspects.

                    Went to the farmers market this morning before leaving town and it was quite good. I've been to many, and it's obviously a robust and well-patronized one with some great stuff. Got some mesquite/cactus honey, gumweed honey, anasazi beans, and chicos to bring home, plus ate a green chile croissant and some other tasty prepared eats. Some very nice spring produce, including a variety of radishes and other root veggies, greens, and the like.

                    Afterwards got a green chili cheeseburger, frito pie, and green chile grilled cheese at Bert's Burger Bowl. Burger was decent, but I don't know that it was made as well as the one I had at Blake's in ABQ. Better than the one I had at the Owl Cafe, though. I like that it was char-grilled. Really loved the grilled cheese and it's cheap. Highlighted the green chile really well. Also enjoyed the frito pie where it's more like a big bowl of chili that you can add fritos, cheese, and onions to.

                    -----
                    Bert's Burger Bowl
                    235 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                      1. re: ninrn

                        Vinaigrette is another one that might be thriving well past 2 years with high prices and local focus. Perhaps it's just that to survive you can't be decent - you have to be OMG GREAT, and that justifies the prices.

                        So Pasqual's = Vinaigrette = Geronimo, dollar for dollar.

                        1. re: tenacity

                          I think you're absolutely right, but I think the original post was about why there aren't any restaurants serving New Mexican food made with local ingredients, a modern perspective etc.

                          Is Vinaigrette is OMG great? What are some of your favorite things there? I've got a Groupon I still haven't used.

                          1. re: ninrn

                            Just one hound's opinion, but I think Vinaigrette is perfectly fine, but not really OMG great.

                            It's a cool concept, and the laid-back feel is really pleasant, but at the end of the day it's still just a place to grab a tasty salad. I also find it to be pretty expensive; I understand that local, organic sourcing (including growing a lot of their own greens) isn't cheap, but I'm not sure that quite justifies some salads clocking in close to $20. Definitely worth using the Groupon, though, it's anything but bad.

                      2. I am a little late to this party, but this is a great thread. I am too surprised that many dinner options in Santa Fe weigh towards Global Fusion or Mexican. Although a very interesting and provocative foodie observation “Extramsg”, it might be a little unfair to say that much of Santa Fe dining is "stuck in the 90s". You will find a lot this type of dining in every major city. In fact, I joke that I can't eat at a fine dining establishment in Chicago without them telling me how far every item has traveled. Beyond questions of carbon footprint, it's overhyped as it's obvious many ingredients come from some far away locale.

                        This raises an interesting issue. Travelers like you and I seek out local authentic food traditions. Sadly, many people when they travel want a dining experience that mimics what they would expect from a nice restaurant at home. How many tourists head straight to the local steakhouse or worse a national chain steakhouse? I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a seafood restaurant in Miami and Coastal California and see tourists ordering Maine Lobster.

                        On the topic of Santa Fe, is there really a Southwestern/New Mexico food tradition that can attract a wide audience? I don’t know, I am asking. If I thought about it, I would guess it was grilled domesticated meats and some game, corn, beans, cactus and of course chiles. I would think it would be simple preparations (tamales perhaps). The Southwestern dining that I have come to know is a modern phenomenon born in major cities inspired by Southwestern flavors. Santa Fe does not seem to have even one nice dining establishment that is solely Southwestern-inspired. I am also surprised to not see more local game (not necessarily wild game) and amazed that Geronimos serves New Zealand Elk.

                        We hope to make it to Taos and try Love Apple on our visit to Santa Fe. It appears they are making a major effort to source locally and expound on local food traditions. If I get there, I will let you know.

                        I am also interested in Epazote, Casa de Chimayo, Guadalupe Cafe and Tecolote. I probably will skip GCCB (presuming that is Green Chile Cheeseburgers) because I find many highly-regarded burgers to be very good, but inevitably still just a burger. We hope to get plenty of green chiles through another conduit. La Casa Sena which seems to have mixed reviews might be a good lunch place if we get on their amazing patio. It seems like Restaurant Martin is suppose to have some Southwestern inspiration, but the website menu does not leave that impression. Too bad Max’s has closed. It seemed like they did not get the love they deserved. Café Pasquals looks good, but bizarrely priced. Is Atrisco Café worth checking out? How do people feel about these places? Thanks!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Foodie_Phil

                          Atrisco is definitely worth checking out, especially if you can get there for lunch and try the roast lamb burrito. They have the best red chile in town for my money, and I believe the lamb is sourced locally (from Shepherd's Lamb in Tierra Amarilla). This is a unique and great dish - just be aware that the lamb burrito is not served during breakfast hours.