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Quandary in Santa Fe

So we had three nights in Santa Fe and the best laid plans have gone aglai (or however you spell it). The original plan was La Chouza or the Shed (never been to either), down scale with Tomascitas or Marias and then more of a splurge the last night. Have been to both Geronimo and The Compound on previous trips -- preferred Geronimo after the second trip to The Compound when we felt very rushed. Tough to spend that kind of $$ in that kind of atmosphere in less than an hour.

So what happened? First night had to meet local friends who opted for Harry's Roadhouse. Next night (tonight) had to do a business event that involved heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks and so skipped dinner entirely. So now we have only tomorrow. My husband prefers southwestern; I want more of a splurge than Maria's or Tomascita's for our last night. Looked at menus for Tomme and Restaurant Martin and neither appealed or fit both bills. Any suggestions? It's for tomorrow night. HELP.

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  1. That is a somewhat difficult order to fill, and the answer may depend on exactly what sort of "splurge" you are looking for. If you're looking for a place that offers more refined atmosphere/service and a leisurely dining experience along with traditional southwestern/New Mexican cuisine, I'm at a loss. If you're looking for a place where your husband can fill up on enchiladas and burritos and you can get a salad and a steak or something a little more upscale, one potential offbeat recommendation might be the Tesuque Village Market. It's got tons of local color but is certainly not elegant, and the service may not be very polished, but the New Mexico standards are pretty solid (I've had some of the best green chile around there), and although I haven't been there for dinner there were some favorable comments in the paper a while back about their dinner menu. Good luck!

    13 Replies
    1. re: rcurtism

      La Choza? The Shed? Maria's? Tomascita's? Since I'm figuring that we're really not going to splurge it looks like NM with good margarita's for me. One of these restaurants describe their margarita's as gave wine margarita's what's that about?

      1. re: gsElsbeth

        You should probably scratch Tomasita's off your list (they may also be the one offering agave wine margaritas - I don't eat there so I can't say for sure but I know the other three have hard liquor licenses - typically agave wine margaritas are only offered by restaurants with limited wine/beer only licenses, and they are not a substitute for the real thing).

        It mostly comes down to personal preference for the other three. The Shed and La Choza have the same menu - La Choza takes reservations and has a parking lot, the Shed is downtown and a lot more atmospheric. In general I find that the overall execution at The Shed/La Choza is a cut above Maria's, but there are a couple things I really love at Maria's (tortilla burger, carne adovada) and the bar is one of my favorite spots in town (I strongly prefer eating in the bar room rather than the dining areas). In any case, hard to make a mistake between those three.

        1. re: rcurtism

          Casa Chimayo on Water Street in Santa Fe offered us "margaritas" made with agave wine. We did not try them.

          1. re: laredo

            I went back to research it and it was La Choza that offered an agave wine margarita. Sounds to me like we'll try Maria's where the margarita's have been universally recommended.

            1. re: gsElsbeth

              La Choza's web site must be out of date, since they definitely offer a full bar. Maria's is a fine choice regardless.

        1. re: DebitNM

          La Casa Sena is good. I like the Santacafe for lunch or brunch. Don't know about dinner. Cafe Martin is just OK. That tapas place on Marcy across from Ecco is very good (cannot remember the name, but they just opened a less formal tapas bar around the corner). Fabulous wine list but not cheap. We love the Coyote Cantina. Their ceviche is very good.

          1. re: sandiasingh

            There is no where worth splurging in Santa Fe. Geronimo sucked when I went there. I was horrified when I sat at the bar at Coyote and watched the cooks: ladle fryer oil onto the flat top and then cook in it, break the hollandaise, and didn't know how to fix it, use the same tongs to handle raw and cooked food, didn't see a cook taste a single thing the whole time. Haven't been to the Compound but I don't even want to go. I went to 315 a little over a year ago super oxidized foie torchon everything else was ok. They have a new chef now. Believe it or not Rio Chama has actually gotten worse after Tom Kerpon left. The old Amavi space is a disaster. The food at Tomme is good, but everything else about it is not quite right. Atrisco and La choza are decent, but you have to remember it's "new mexican food". La Boca ... should be awesome but it really isn't that good considering how simple the food is. Haven't been to Nostrani I hear Nelly is very good. Shibumi is OK I don't know how I feel about Stapleman. Pasqual's is ok, but whatever I get there always looks like a pile of crap on a plate, smothered in chili. The Palace is weak, and Joseph has left, oh yeah Charles Dale doesn't have a job, the kid from Max's is MIA. Joel Coleman went to San Francisco or something. O'Keefe Cafe isn't open. I'm not even going to mention Italian food. Sorry I'm so negative. Santa fe's culinary scene is completely stagnate.

            1. re: cochon21

              Charles Dale was at Terra at Encantado last I checked -- are you saying he left?

              1. re: finlero

                he's been gone for at least a month. 4 Seasons brought in their own chef or something

              2. re: cochon21

                We were thinking of taking our mom to Tomme for a birthday dinner. Could you please expand on what's not so great about the "everything else"?

                1. re: ninrn

                  Sorry I don't get on chowhound that often, by 'everything else' I meant service and ambience. Now they have a new chef at Tomme, Joe Wrede. The food won't be as good as it was before.

                  1. re: cochon21

                    Thanks. Too bad about the chef change. I noticed some things that sounded good have already gone off the online menu. Isn't Joe Wrede the guy from Joseph's Table?