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Mar 26, 2012 05:51 PM

Local folks....where would you dine in Sante Fe if you had 4 nights?

Hi I have read all the threads on dinner spots(I'm dizzy). Instead of me picking 4 and then having everyone pick different spots would you mind picking the 4 dinners you would pick if you only had 4 nights in Sante Fe and wanted to dine at what makes Sante Fe special. I dont really want sushi or italian unless it has a sante fe flavor. thanks

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  1. Cafe Pasqual's
    La Choza
    Geronimo OR Coyote Cafe

    :-) Details upon request, but if you've been reading the board you know why I chose those.

    7 Replies
    1. re: tenacity

      do you think the cantina at Coyote Cafe for lunch outside is worth it?

      1. re: kevin25

        I'll give a shout out in favor of the Cantina - we eat there regularly during the season. Prices are predictably high, but the food is generous and full of flavor and they make a good margarita (including one made partially with mezcal that is just spectacular).

        Two comments on Terra - you definitely can eat outside, and probably should weather permitting, since the patio faces west and the sunset views can be wonderful. On the flip side I have to say that, while I used to speak highly of this place, my last meal there was pretty mediocre. They seem to change the structure of their menu and their pricing every few months - I kind of get the sense that they're struggling to find a formula that works.

        Finally, I'm surprised no one has mentioned La Boca - it would be near the top of my short list of four. I always caution people about the atmosphere (tiny and cramped), but the food may be the best in town.

      2. re: tenacity

        I think Tenacity's list is great. It really gets to the "what makes Santa Fe special" part of your request.

        I'd probably add a Bobcat Bite and a Tune-Up Cafe lunch, and a breakfast at one of the old Santa Fe breakfast stand-bys like Tecolote. Cafe Pasqual's does a very good breakfast/brunch, too (maybe better than their dinner). If you don't have any type of non-Ethiopian African restaurant where you live, Jambo is worth a visit, too, maybe for lunch. The menu is the same for both lunch and dinner, and it's nice that they're open all the way through from 11 to 9.

        To me, the Cantina at Coyote Cafe was lively and interesting because we sat out on the roof, but the food was only as good as Tune-Up or a number of other lower-priced restaurants in town -- not bad at all, but not really comparable to the actual Coyote Cafe's.

        1. re: ninrn

          I think so far it seems that bobcat bite ,jambo and the cantina at coyote cafe may be 3 of our lunches. the food doesn't have to be the best to offset a nice lunch outside with a view.(cantina)

        2. re: tenacity

          Now that I've been to Restaurant Martin . . . Yes, that. If you want to see what the best of the techie-wizardy-best are doing, that is.
          If you want a real New Mexico experience, nix my final line and add in Bobcat or Horseman's Haven.

          1. re: tenacity

            bobcat for sure i really want to try the green chili burger

        3. Since it sounds like you know how to search the boards, I won't go into too much detail on this thread, but here are my four, scrubbed of Italian and Japanese suggestions, tailored for chowish visiting tastes, a board search will turn up tons more info on any of these. I don't really go to any of these unless people are visiting from out of town, but I enjoy myself when we go:

          * The Shed - quite good NM-style in beautiful digs downtown, good margaritas.
          * Geronimo - nicely done high-end Southwestern dining in a beautiful space on Canyon Rd.
          * Harry's Roadhouse - tasty food (burgers good, NM stuff good, salads good, specials good, desserts good, avoid pizza and BBQ), fun and frenetic digs, again good margaritas. (Bobcat Bite, a few miles down the road, has even better burgers but no alcohol.)
          * Terra at Encantado - excellent upscale new American with Southwestern accents, good drinks, stunning views.

          7 Replies
          1. re: finlero

            can you eat outside at Bobcat and can you bring a beer there? Terra is the view from inside or do you dine outside? we are coming may 9-13

            1. re: kevin25

              Here's another thought - you could get a couple of burgers to go from Bobcat Bite and take them to the Santa Fe Brewing Company tap room in El Dorado. It's probably only 10 minutes away, and they have both indoor and outdoor seating. I know they allow you to bring in outside food from a neighboring restaurant, but just to be safe you may want to call first to make sure it's OK. I may even try this myself someday!

              1. re: rcurtism

                if its a big juicy burger i think I'll just enjoy it there.

            2. re: finlero

              since La choza is the sister spot of the Shed are they similar? we are staying by the plaza.

              1. re: kevin25

                Bobcat bite - to my knowledge, no outside seating, no BYO.

                Terra - the bar is definitely inside/outside and it's fantastic. I *think* you can dine al fresco as well. Seasonal warmth is always a crapshoot in N-NM, but mid-May should generally be fine. It's a desert, so the temperature tends to plummet as soon as the sun goes down, but Encantado has a number of first world amenities like outdoor space heaters.

                For a while La Choza (which incidentally means "the shed" in Spanish) seemed a little better and more consistent than the Shed, but my last experience at each flip flopped. To me, the Shed is a vastly more charismatic space, so I'd go with that. Again, I don't go to either unless I'm with out-of-towners, but it's still a pretty canonical example of NM-style chow.

                1. re: kevin25

                  La Choza is less "traveled" so wait times should be better. The Shed's margaritas are famous. I do not think you can BYOB at many places, especially Bobcat.... they do have like two tables outside if I remember correctly.

                  Coyote Cantina lunch is fine, but very busy in good weather.

                  1. re: tenacity

                    La Choza also accepts reservations - that and the parking lot are the only reasons we eat there more often than The Shed, despite all the talk about La Choza being "preferred by locals". Finlero's statement above is right on target - the food is basically equivalent but the ambience at The Shed is truly unique.

                    BYOB is not permitted anywhere in New Mexico (sadly) - it's a state law. Bobcat Bite does a surprising amount of takeout business but I've always been somewhat mystified by that - the burgers are so juicy it seems like the bun would be completely soaked through by the time you reached your destination!

              2. Mine would be:
                La Choza
                Reaturant Martin
                315 Wine Bar
                The Compound.

                1. The two 'don't miss' for me are La Boca and Jambo.

                  La Boca is the best dining experience I've had in SF despite the small and cramped interior. Delicious food and excellent wine list, including the chance to try a wider range of sherry than can be found in most places.

                  A jerk chicken salad at Jambo recenty was the best single dish I've eaten in a long while. It had it all, contrasting textures and heat (spicy and temp), breadth and depth of flavor and beautiful on the plate. And all very digestible! The delightful laid back chef/owner often comes around, even when very busy, which suggests a very well organised kitchen.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: andrewtree

                    Is La Boca good for wednesday night dinner with music? my wife loves live music. also would you say Jambo for lunch or dinner or just dinner?

                    1. re: kevin25

                      Not been there with music, unsure in the small space how that would work.

                      Jambo is open all day with the same menu, and there's always been a really good buzz there lunchtime or evening. They recently expanded so you shouldn't have to wait.

                      1. re: andrewtree

                        It actually works pretty well with music, just a solo guitar or vocalist and guitar smushed into a corner. I think the music actually makes it feel extra European, with lot of energy in a very small space.

                        Agree with andrewtree that the chow at La Boca is terrific, although I'm not sure it has a lot of Santa Fe local color; ditto Jambo all the way around. But if food itself is your biggest decision driver, it's hard to argue with the quality at either.

                        1. re: finlero

                          This looks like the lineup for now wed lunch bobcat bite dinner La Boca thur Jambo lunch dinner Tomme fri flyfish all day then La Choza for dinner sat lunch coyote cantina sit outside dinner Geronimo we will try to get to Terra for an evening(sunset) drink outside if possible. anything I missed? thanks...

                          1. re: kevin25

                            Sounds like you won't leave hungry. Do write back and let us know how you fared. There aren't that many NM locals posting regularly on CH, it's always nice to get feedback from visitors in terms of what worked.

                            1. re: finlero

                              back may 13 so will try to post soon after. thanks for all your help ps do you think its worth going to terra just for a drink?(hopefully outside)

                              1. re: kevin25

                                Personally? Yeah, they make a great margarita with agave nectar, and a number of other semi-legitimate craft cocktails, and it's a beautiful, secluded spot.

                                1. re: kevin25

                                  If the weather isn't good, head over to Hotel Santa Fe for a Prickly Pear Margarita and listen to the wonderful flutist, Ronald Roybal who plays in the lounge. If the weather is good, have the drink out by the pool and then listen to Ronald, his music is magical.

                                  He is there most Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 pm.

                                  1. re: DebitNM

                                    my wife would love that thanks DebitNM we will be there...

                    2. First time visitor to Santa Fe with a group of colleagues. Is the Cantina at Coyote Cafe a good casual and moderately priced choice for a group of 8? Is it outdoors? Will it be comfortable on a cold night?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Blumie

                        I like the Cantina and usually eat there 3-4 times a year - it's one of the few places in town that still serves up contemporary southwestern food a la Bobby Flay/Mark Miller, and the setting is quite unique. On the downside it is entirely outdoors, and could get chilly even with heat lamps, and it always seems like the tab runs up pretty quickly (although that's partially due to the fact that I really like some of their pricier margaritas).

                        If you don't have your heart set on southwestern/regional food another option would be to hit the Marble Brewery taproom and get pizza from Rooftop Pizza - they've got a great balcony (with heatlamps) overlooking the plaza and there's also indoor seating if it gets too cold. The bill will likely be much lower here also.

                        1. re: Blumie

                          Hey Blumie, long time no see since my Boston board days, hope you're well!

                          Yeah, the Cantina isn't exactly a chow revelation for food or drink, but the vibe is fun. Like rcurtism says, it can get pretty chilly, so that may a non-starter.

                          If you'd like to stay downtown, I'd sooner send you to the Shed. Reasonable prices, excellent margaritas, beautiful digs, and although it's not the very best NM-style in the city, it's definitely the real deal. They also have a number of safe, non-threatening options for the less chowishly-inclined and or spice averse in your group, and they take reservations for larger groups.

                          1. re: finlero

                            Thanks, rcurtism and finlero. Looking at the weather forecast for next week, I think the Cantina will be too cold. The Shed sounds like a good alternative. Can you guys provide other recommendations for casual and moderately priced regional cuisine? We'll be there for three nights. We're staying at La Fonda, but will have a couple of cars.

                            1. re: Blumie

                              As you might imagine, that question gets asked a bunch here, so you'll get a lot more ideas with a board search, but to get you started:

                              I think that eating near the Plaza is a lot like eating near Faneuil Hall/Times Square. Not impossible to eat well, but the deck is stacked a bit against you. Tomasita's and Tia Sophia's (both within walking distance) are fine, but not especially good. Similarly, I went recently to Casa Chimayo and thought it was kind of meh (although the digs are fun), but there has been enough good feedback here on it that I'll give it another shot at some point.

                              Regional places worth a drive (search for any of these for more info): the Ranch House, Horseman's Haven (no alcohol), Harry's Roadhouse, Bobcat Bite (no alcohol), Los Amigos, El Rancho de Chimayo (40ish minute drive, but worth it for the chow and the scenery along the way), Plaza Cafe Southside, Santa Fe Brewing Co, Tuneup Cafe.

                          2. re: Blumie

                            Regional cuisine has a new representative: Casa Chimayo on Water Street. Northern New Mexican from a family that are descendants of the Spanish settlers. Oh, and they'll talk your ear off about that family line if you let them. :-) The posole is flaming hot and fantastic.

                            Casa Chimayo, 409 W Water Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501; (505) 428-0391;;