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Jun 24, 2013 07:36 PM

Santa Fe: Great Wine Lists?

Will be in Santa Fe later this week for four nights. Was hoping to get some restaurant recommendations, particularly restaurants with great wine lists. A great list mean different things to different people, but ideally I'd like a deep list with multiple older vintages of French wines (red and white burgs, if I had my choice). Reasonable mark ups are a plus. But knowing that those sorts of lists are rare out side the big cities, I'd settle for a well curated, diverse, but smaller list with thoughtfully chosen European wines from good producers.

As far as food, I like what I've seen here on Vivre and Bouche Bistro. Any thing else along those lines, but a bit higher end and more adventurous would be great. Also looking for some less expensive lunch places, including some Southwestern influenced places.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Sadly I've never really found Santa Fe to be much of a wine lovers' town insomuch as a tourist town. There are good bottles to be found, but there are few places you can count on for interesting finds at fair prices.

    Bouche is a true bistro in the sense that the wine is food-friendly and reasonably priced; that said, the list is short and shallow-ish, with little to turn the heads of more hardcore wine nerds. I didn't see a reserve list, and most of the bottles on their short-ish standard list are well under $100.

    Vivre's list is pretty damn incredible, by far the best French cellar in town, deep and well-researched. Markups vary, but at very least there are some rare finds that will give you a good way to rationalize parting with your cash. Last I checked they were also liquidating their Italian cellar from their former incarnation as a trattoria, and there were some pretty stellar deals if you're not hellbent on French.

    I have yet to make it to 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, but their wine list is online and reasonably appealing.

    The food at Pranzo is pretty meh, but last I checked all wine bottles were 50% off on Sundays. The list isn't extra special, but it's totally solid, and there's some great Sunday value to be had. Most bottles are from Italy, but there's some French thrown in too.

    Rio Chama Steakhouse has a classic ostentatious steakhouse wine list, with a deep cellar and severe prices. I've never been and I have little intention of ever going, I'm sure it's fine for what it is.

    It's been a few years since I've dined at Ristra or Geronimo, but I vaguely recall each having relatively interesting wine lists, with some noteworthy bottles from Colorado and New Mexico. See if you can find reds from Sutcliffe (CO) or Gruet (NM, especially the pinot noir); they're doing interesting, distinctly non-Californian things with their craft.

    Not what you asked, but Shohko Cafe has a stellar sake list (the family also owns a wholesale sake business) and outstanding coast-caliber sushi to match.

    2 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      A friend mentioned La Casa Sena. List looks very promising, although the food matching might be a bit problematic. Any experience there?

      1. re: Mike C. Miller

        You know, I've never been there, but this is a great reminder that I should go. I've never heard anything over-the-top good about the food, but I've also never heard anything overtly negative. If nothing else, they have one of the most beautiful outdoor courtyards in the city, and I'd forgotten that the wine program looks like it's for real.

    2. Anyone else?

      As finlero noted, not much of an endorsement for Santa Fe as a wine town, eh?

      1. For my money La Casa Sena has by far the best cellar in town, with excellent depth and breadth as well as relatively gentle markups (at least by SF standards). Unfortunately, the kitchen simply doesn't measure up to the standards of the wine program. I would love to eat there more often, since it really is one of those rare wine lists that encourages exploration and discovery, but I just can't get past the shortcomings of the food.

        Maybe there's a creative dining strategy that could compensate for this - tapas at Taberna followed by a nice bottle of wine and a token food order at Casa Sena?

        One other option to consider is Arroyo Vino - it's a newish wine-centered restaurant with an adjoining wine shop in an upscale residential neighborhood far outside the tourist orbit. I've only been once, but the inventory seemed well chosen and the food was thoughtful and well prepared.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rcurtism

          Thanks for the recommendation. We just got home from the trip in the last hour. I think that you hit the nail on the head on La Casa Sena. Great list, mediocre food, at best. (And I mean, AT BEST.) It's just shocking to me that a restaurant that has this kind of wine list can't do decent food.

          Had a really outstanding meal at Martin's. But it is almost equally shocking that a restaurant with that kind of cooking has a wine list full of mediocre wines. But between the two, I'd take Martin's every time.

          Probably the best compromise we found was Bouch Bistro. Very good, but not amazing food, and a nice, modest, but pretty well selected wine list. Seemed to hit the middle ground as securely as any place we tried.

          Two recommendations we got -- not so much for wine, but for food -- that we didn't get to try, were La Boca and Mu Du Noodles.

          1. re: Mike C. Miller

            Thanks so much for the post-trip feedback. In addition to it just being a nice gesture, it's also helpful for giving better recs in the future.

            Bummer about LCS; it's too bad to hear it was that level of bad. I've always wondered if their cantina would be a better bet for dinner; after all, nothing pairs with a $700 Chateauneuf like an order of pulled pork sliders (I'm half kidding, half not).

            Do try La Boca if you come back, the tapas are exceptional, especially during our harvest season, and the sherries by the glass make a nice, slightly unusual addition to the meal. Mu Du Noodles is expensive for what it is, but anything but bad.