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Oct 5, 2001 03:53 PM

one great meal in santa fe

  • m

My sister and I are visiting NM in two weeks. We'll probably eat one dinner in Santa Fe, and want it to be a knockout. My question is: where should it be? I'll only qualify it by saying price isn't a big concern (it's only ONE meal), and we want to eat something regional (not Chinese, Italian, or French for example). I'm having a hard time making up my mind between some of the places I've read about here.

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  1. Casa Sena [505-988-9232] or Santacafe [984-1788] - you'll be able to get a nice meal with regional influences. If you want straight-ahead Northern NM peasant food (not at all fancy) in Santa Fe, go for La Choza [982-0909] or Tomasita's [983-5721].

    BTW, not so much in reponse to you but for anyone who's looking for an interesting uniquely Northern NM dish that is very difficult to find in any restaurant, Matilda's [505-753-3200] in EspaƱola offers a rare opportunity to try chicos. Chicos are oven-dried (thus slightly carmelized) sweet corn kernels that are rehydrated in a beef-based stew and served with red chile. Matilda's is not at all fancy, but worth a trip if you'd like something different.

    Please feel free to email me if I can be of assistance.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Erich

      Erich's suggestions are great. Tomasita's is located in the old train depot and has a nice feel. Beware that it's often crowded and one has to wait for a table. The food is good and the prices reasonable.

      Maria's (983-7929) is always a good bet too... a really old building with vigas etc, lots of good food and margarita choices. Interesting waitstaff. Depending on the night, there are strolling musicians. Reservations recommended on a weekend.

      One of the best meals of my life was at Ristra (982-8608). Very pricey, but intimate setting and excellent food and service. But generally continental cuisine.

      A really fun, campy place is the Cowgirl Hall of Fame (982-2565). An interesting mix of New Mexican and Tex-Mex. Fun atmosphere... glitter-painted walls covered with vintage photos of rodeo queens. Reasonable prices. Sometimes crowded, but they take reservations. Patio is nice for lunch.

      If you want a killer green chile cheeseburger, try Dave's Not Here (983-7060). EXTREMELY reasonable prices. It's a neighborhood joint (in my neighborhood) and I had dinner there tonight. Total tab for 2 of us with beer and wine... $23.00.

      Our fave breakfast place is Horseman's Haven (471-5420). Another hole-in-the-wall, but great chile!

      Near the Plaza downtown, Tia Sophia's (983-9880). Consistently good, basic New Mexican food.

      To avoid: Old Mexico Grill. Food is good, but it's been written up lately in tourist guides and is always crowded..... always has a waiting line. Also, the place has no soft surfaces and it's impossible to hear the conversation at your own table. Unacceptable!!

      1. re: RavenMoon

        Your recommendation to avoid the Old Mexico Grill reminds me of Yogi berra's famous saying "Nobody goes there anymore - it's too crowded!" if the food is good, as you admit, why shouldn't people line up? I had the best meal of my recent visit there - a turkey mole poblano. Service was excellent and there was no waiting for a table. I didn't notice the noise level as my dinner had my full concentration. I heartily endorse the Old Mexico Grill, expecially the turkey mole poblano.

        1. re: JohnnyT

          Hi, Johnny. Well, I tend to go out for the total experience, especially good conversation with friends, and that is just too difficult there. My next door neighbor is the general manager at Old Mexico Grill and tells me they are trying to do something about the noise level. We'll see. ~ RM

      2. re: Erich

        La Choza is my favorite place in Santa Fe. The food is great, and the staff have seemed genuinely glad that I've chosen to dine there each time I've been.

        I ate at Diego's in the (Vargas?) mall this spring. Good food but very crowded. Do you know if Diego's is connected to Tomasita's? The food reminded me of Tomasita's somehow.

        1. re: Chimayo Joe

          Diegos, like Tia Sophia, and Tomasita's, I believe, are owned by Greek families. Don't know if they ae directly related, though.


          1. re: Jim Mafchir


            I just called and asked a woman at Diego's whether Diego's is owned by the same folks that own Tomasita's. She said, "They're related, but they're separate."