Santa Fe best
I have been to Santa Fe at least 5 times and always have eaten quite well. I'll be returning in April and am eager to try new places as well as old standards that remain top-notch. I'd be grateful for recommendations -- I can do anything from fancy (Geronimo is my favorite so far) to divey-er (love Harry's Roadhouse). Thanks in advance!
There's a fantastic pan-Asian restaurant on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, Mu Du Noodles. We're locals and eat there often. The recipes are their own. The one common denominator is that all of the dishes have deep, satisfying flavors that hit the spot. The worst meal I ever had at Mu Du Noodles was terrific. Many of the dishes incorporate flavors from multiple Asian cultures. The vegetables are impossibly fresh, and gleam in the bowls like porcelain jewelry. Our favorites are Yaki Udon, Beef Jantaboon, Emerald Curry, and Malaysian Laksa. Mu's lamb specials are some of the best lamb dishes we've ever eaten. This wonderful food rivals any Asian food in North Americas largest cities with large Asian populations. But you can only find this unique cuisine here. Check out the website at: http://www.mudunoodles.com then beat feet to Mu's. You won't be disappointed!
Do you have your heart set on Southwesterny stuff? If not, I think Shibumi Ramenya gives just about anything in LA or NY a run for its money. Virtually every element of every dish made from scratch, often over the course of several days. Ramen, izakaya, yakitori. NB cash only. www.shubumiramen.com Its sister restaurant next door, Trattoria Nostrani, is also on par with anything I've had on the East Coast, and both the Italian and (semi-secret) French wine lists are pretty awesome.
Not a dive, but a ways out in the big box section of town, I've quickly fallen in love with the newly opened Ranch House. Midscale, full bar. Anything BBQ is excellent (the pulled pork sliders are just ridiculous), especially with the honey red chile BBQ sauce, the rest of the menu ain't half bad either.
Old standards that I think are still excellent: Tecolote Cafe, Horesman's Haven, Bobcat Bite. If you've never driven up to El Rancho de Chimayo, you should do that. Beautiful drive, beautiful digs, excellent straight-up NM food. Now that La Choza serves margaritas, not much point in going to its mildly inferior sister restaurant the Shed.
The original 2nd Street Brewery (on 2nd Street, who knew?) is off the beaten path, laid back, and a lot of fun. Quite good beer, surprisingly tasty gastropub menu.
If you're originally a New Yorker, you might get a kick out of a pizza with green chile from Pizza Centro in the Design Center. The pizza itself can't quite compete with the best of Brooklyn, but it's remarkably better than average, and the green chile on top is a hell of an addition.
And if Harry's strikes you as "divey", this one may be a little too real (not making fun of you at all, just trying to be clear about the zero frills), but I think the pupuseria attached to the Days Inn on Cerrillos is utterly excellent. Probably the only place you'll ever find a green chile pupusa, and man is it good.