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Santa Fe Favorites

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My family and I will be visiting the Santa Fe, NM area during mid April. We enjoy good restaurants and are always open to new and unusual eating experiences. We would enjoy hearing from other chowhounds, especially local residents, who can recommend good restaurants and would be willing to share their favorites with us. Also any sights or adventures not to be missed? Thanks and good eating.

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  1. t
    Tha Groovin' Gourmet

    A couple of places spring to mind:

    For breakfast or brunch check out Tecolote Cafe
    on Cerrillos.

    Assuming you are flying into Albuquerque and driving to SF you might want to check out Blue Corn along I-25 in ABQ (Jefferson exit, west side of freeway on the service rd). Excellent SW brewpub fare, including killer chipotle corn soup.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

      Note: the original/flagship Blue Corn Cafe is on Water Street (second floor) just next to the Plaza in Santa Fe. I believe the cross street is Don Gaspar.

      Also recommend Rio Chama next to the Capitol.

      1. re: Merritt
        Tha Groovin' Gourmet

        Cool! Thanks for the tip. So they have the whole microbrewery thing going on there?

        I'll have to check it out on the next trip.

        1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

          I don't know if the microbrewery is part of the SF shop. However, the square footage is smaller...could be they get their brews from the Albuquerque branch. We discovered it on our honeymoon almost nine years ago, and we still go back, and probably drink the beer, but it's not something that I have managed to retain in memory!

          Next time you are in the Albuquerque airport area, check out Cervantes' on Gibson. Great home-style NM food, and you can get a combination plate with carne adovada AND a chile relleno. Good stuff.

          Cheers, Merritt

          1. re: Merritt
            Tha Groovin' Gourmet

            I'll certainly give the SF outpost a try, as Blue Corn in ABQ is usually a must stop. I'm a pale ale guy, and their High Altitude is a good one. And I just can't seem to not order the chipotle corn chowder.

            Thanks for the tip, and I'll return the favor...I totally enjoy Perea's on Central. Probably my favorite refrieds anywhere and nice portions for reasonable prices.

            1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

              i once found the recipe in an ABQ newspaper for blue corn cafe's chipotle corn chowder soup...i have lost it and really am craving it, but since i live in TX now, that is not possible. could you get me the recipe?

              1. re: Brittany

                I stopped by the Blue Corn Cafe recently (in Jan) but wasn't superbly impressed. Then again, I didn't know to order the corn chowder (wasn't a planned stop, wish I had done better research). Is this still a local favorite (I can't seem to find anything more recent than this thread on it?)

                1. re: Brittany

                  Here is the recipe for Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery Grilled Corn and Chipotle Soup as given by their executive chef at a cooking demonstration in 2001. I haven't tried it yet so can't comment. Happy Cooking!
                  GRILLED CORN & CHIPOTLE SOUP
                  (Serves 4-8)
                  6 medium-size ears corn
                  2-3 chipotle peppers
                  1/4 cup red onion (large, diced)
                  2 cups water
                  4 cups (2 pints) heavy whipping cream
                  Dash white pepper
                  Dash ground comino (cumin)
                  Corn Relish (recipe follows)
                  First, grill the corn. The simplest method is to shuck the ears and rub the corn with vegetable oil and kosher salt, then grill over an open flame. Allow some of the kernels to pop and blacken, which will add flavor and character. Remove the corn to a cutting board and scrape off all the kernels with a sharp knife. Get every part. Divide the corn in half; then divide one of these halves in half (to use for the garnish).
                  In a blender or food processor, combine half of the corn with the onions, chiles, spices and about half of the water. Pulse briefly until you achieve a coarse paste; add more of the water as needed to blend, but try not to overblend, as you want a few chunks left.
                  In a large saucepan combine all of the ingredients, except the grilled corn set aside for the garnish, in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. The soup needs to cook down by about half to thicken and reach its richest flavor and thick texture.
                  Garnish with a crispy fried tostada (we use fried flour tortilla wedges) and a dollop of Corn Relish:
                  Corn Relish: Combine the reserved grilled corn with 1 tablespoon diced green bell pepper; 1 tablespoon diced red bell pepper; 1/8 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeƱo, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon honey. Sprinkle with a little salt. Allow to rest at least an hour before serving.

      2. Plaza Restaurant - Breakfast, lunch or dinner. Been there a long time. Fantastic posole and other New Mexican faves. Never been disappointed.
        Maria's. New Mexican. Local hangout. Massive tequila collection.
        Pasqual's. Everyone lines up for breakfast but make dinner reservations - it's worth it.
        The Compound. Nouvelle American, could be the most creative chef in Santa Fe. Expensive.
        Coyote Cafe. Almost a cliche but still fantastic food.
        Pink Adobe. Santa Fe icon and the menu hasn't changed in 30 years. I prefer drinks at the Dragon Bar rather than dinner.

        Link: http://www.flyingmutts.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: Alan

          I totally agree with Alan regarding the Plaza, I love this place...Something about it , old time Santa Fe feel but with a modern atmosphere, great food and great servers who have been there forever. I also agree that Maria's is worth a stop, the food has slipped a little but the drinks and tequilla collection can't be missed.
          Yes, on Pasqual's as well. Top nothch breakfast spot, prime location...Some people gawk at the prices, but you get what you pay for. Unique Breakfast items!
          Yes also on the Compound, Coyote Cafe and The Pink Adobe is very, very Santa Fe. I have to totally disagree with the recommendation of The Tecote Cafe, I just don't get it. It's sort of a dump, sorry to say and the food is just so mediocre...I've tried it 4 times and it just gets worse. Maybe some locals like it because they meet friends there, My friends don't go there, We all go to Harry's Roadhouse for breakfast!

        2. We had a very good meal at Harry's when we were there in October - don't miss the pie! (We enjoyed the strawberry rhubarb).

          We had breakfast and dinner at Pasqual's and definitely enjoyed the breakfast more.

          A couple locals pointed us towards Maria's - whooeee....strong margaritas and HOT carne adovado!

          1. Blue Corn Cafe is good (2 of them in Santa Fe) but I still think Maria's is the best Mexican food in the city (near Cerrillos and Cordova) Not a gourmet --but saying Mexican food and gourmet in the same sentence is (in my opinion) an oxy-moron. Real Mexican food is not intended to be gourmet---much to the surprise of The Coyote Cafe. No locals eat there. The Pink Adobe maybe--but not most of the tourist traps downtown.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bronco Billy

              I would also have to disagree that locals don't go to Coyote Cafe. Ate there last night and in walked Gov. Bill Richardson. He may not be an average citizen, but is certainly a local. Food was excellent too.

            2. I beg to differ...Lots of locals frequent the Coyote Cafe. In fact, in summer when the Coyote Cafe Cantina is open, it's mostly locals as is the main restaurant. The Pink Adobe also is filled with locals as is The Plaza Cafe. AS for the comment on Tourist traps downtown.... You might want to do your homework before making such bold statements and maybe be more open to all of our wonderful restaurants In Santa Fe. Wow, Maria's being the best in Santa Fe.....I guess you don't get out much, oh well.

              1. I agree with Jeff above. Saying that "locals" do not go to/appreciate Coyote Cafe is simply wrong.

                Maria's is, in my opinion, poor for food and terrific for drinks. And, the restaurant is simply dirty thus not appetizing to me. It is Mexican food, not NEW Mexican. There are far better places for either type of food in Santa Fe. If you like Mexican specifically, try Los Potrillos on Cerrillos Road.

                And, there is such a thing as "gourmet" Mexican though it is not easy to find; easier in Los Angeles than in Santa Fe. Bert of Bert's La Taquiria in the old La Tertulia space on Agua Fria is passionate and expert on the food of Mexico City as an example. Identify yourself to him when making a reservation and ask him to make something "special-for-you" and be surprised.

                Yep, there are locals at both the Pink Adobe and The Plaza but there are many, many visitors at at both places, especially at The Plaza.

                1. My husband and I spent a week in Santa Fe last May. Go to http://www.claire-walter.com and click on 'Dining Diary.' Click on any of the Santa Fe restaurants (Cafe Pasquale is the first one that pops up and the alphabetical list), and you'll be taken to the section of the chronogically arranged Diary where all the Santa Fe spots appear.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ClaireWalter


                    Went to claire-walter.com as directed above and saw your post about Los Potrillos while discussing Coyote Cafe/Cantina in the "Dining Diary" section.

                    While I'm glad you and your party had a god time, note however that Los Potrillos has NO connection at all to the popular Albuquerque coffee-house chain Flying Star as you state. Los Potrillos is owned by two brothers, Gustavo and Jose Tapia. They also own the adjacent Taco place, Pepe's.

                    I believe that the quality is directly related to the fact that one or the other is always on the premises, three meals a day, seven days a week.

                    1. re: fyfas

                      A friend from Albuquerque told me that the Flying Star folks had opened Los Potrillos -- or at least I THOUGHT that's what she told me. Now I'm wondering whether, perhaps, there was a connection to Monroe's -- or someplace else entirely. The connection to whatever could be as loose as "cousins." Or she could have been wrong.

                  2. Oops, I meant Cafe Pasqual's, not Pasquale.

                    1. Pasqual's is a must. On the Plaza I like The Shed over Blue Corn....I always eat at Julian's for upscale and El Faro for Spansh, a;though the chef here opened his own place La Bocha close to plaza that I be dining at over Pres Day wkend. Al Di La for pizza and Geronimo if you just really want to spend a ton of money....hungry now....??

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hhhill

                        La Boca is terrific and I'd bet you'll love it given that you've liked the chef's work before. Note it is EXTREMELY popular so reservations are essential. (It is a small space, previously Paul's on Marcy Street.) Also, note that it is very noisy; not a problem for me as I'm there to eat !

                      2. 4-15-08/we just ate at the Coyote Cafe and my husband and I had a fabulous meal. The meal presentations were just fantastic and the tastes were fabulous. I would definitely recommend it. We have been food critics and restaurant writers for over 15 yrs in the LA area and we think our meal was fantastic. Service was par excellance and we ate at the bar. The theatrical show at the bar is academy award winning. Great wine list.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tapdancer

                          Much of this thread is old - Geronimo's chef Eric DiStefano is now the chef at Coyote, Anasazi's chef Martin Rios is now the chef at Geronimo. etc, etc. We were at Coyote on 4/15, opening nite for the Cantina. We ate inside as we have all winter (booth next to the bar, though with my back to it), and had a meal and service on par with yours. Usually eating at the bar is part of the chef's tasting menu deal, what with the open kitchen and all, but now as the Cantina has opened I bet you'll see less of chef DiStefano out front.

                        2. El Farol on gallery row - VERY tasty Spanish tapas and great wine selection.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Heyteacher

                            My boyfriends parents live in Santa Fe and we are down in Cruces and thus visit often. Last time we were there we ate at Amaya in the Hotel Santa Fe, and it was suprisingly very good. I had previously posted wondering if anyone had been there and didnt not receive any response so was a bit worried. The halibut in lemon butter sauce was the best fish I've ever had... although Im not the biggest fish fan- but the fact that I find myself craving that should say something though!

                            The Compound is great but definitly $$$. Fuego is amazing, also $$$.
                            The Thai place downtown was really good, and we like having lunch at the Catamount downtown.

                          2. Bringing this post up t try and gt some mor current info on SF restaurants. Will be there in September and would love to hear what's new in SF or what's old and stil great. Thanks

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: yestravel

                              Tesuque Village Market on Bishop's Lodge Rd. and NM 591, in Tesuque Village, 15 minutes north of Santa Fe. Excellent breakfast and lunch.

                              Cafe Paris, [31 Burro Alley Street just around the corner from Lensic Theatre] has authentic french bistro food: www.cafeparisnm.com

                              French Pastry Shop & Restaurant 100 E San Francisco St for a sweet treat.


                            2. Thanks! always looking for a nice sweet treat!