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Advice on Santa Fe: Cafe Pasqual, Geronimo, The Compound, etc

  • s

Everyone has been so helpful in responding to my queries on Grand Canyon, Vegas, etc, that I thought I'd try for some Santa Fe advice.

I would welcome your opinions of Cafe Pasqual, Geronimo, The Compound, Coyote Cafe, Cafe Estevan, Anasazi Restaurant, Old House, The Shed, El Farol.
And any other restaurant that you especially enjoyed.

My wife and I love good food, which ranks for us far above ambience, service, or price. So fire away!

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  1. I've been to both Geronimo and Coyote Cafe. Geronimo was the best, hands down! Incredible atmosphere, and outstanding cuisine & service. I thoroughly enjoyed my lobster bisque with home made crab cake, and my seared elk.

    Coyote was great as well, but in my opinion, was a slight step down from Geronimo. The location is certainly more accessible, and the layout of the dining room is beautiful and spacious. I was there for a group event, so I really can't comment on their daily menu.

    At the other end of the scale, I would avoid the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Again, it was a group event, but both service & cuisine left a lot to be desired.


    1. s
      Santa Fe local

      hi, I'm a Santa Fe local spurred into action by some of the touristy and not very good restaurant recs I've seen here so far. The Shed is the first place I go when I have been away, the only place I like to have red chile. Geronimo's is great, but can also be spotty. I really enjoy old standbys Santacafe and Casa Sena for outdoor eating. For great hot NM food, try Horseman's Haven. Tia Maria's is great for Wednesday lunches. Best of luck!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Santa Fe local
        Brent Howard

        Why would you say that "Geronimo's" (sic) is "spotty?"

        1. re: Santa Fe local

          I love Horseman's Haven. The Level 2 chile is a religious experience. Not on the menu so you just the waitress to bring you a side. I'd also suggest milk and yogurt on the side for safety! By the way, the bartender at Il Piatto was telling me that they also have a Level 3 chile! I can't even imagine.....

        2. The Horsemens is a good pic, although now that they built the new cafe the atmosphere is awful...get it to go. The Plaza has some of the best red chili in the city. It is a great breakfast/lunch place. I am suprised a local says they eat at the Shed. I stay away from that place. Not Good. El Farol is great for tapas/getting drunk with a date in the evenings. Go on Sunday afternoon and you will be the only one there. My favorite is the Albondigas. (Lamb Balls!) Though it is a bit overpriced. Compound is steady fare. Casa Sena is great. Dont listen to anyone that states Geronimo is spotty. It isnt. Or maybe I have just been lucky for 10 years....Santacafe isnt what it once was. Skip it.

          1. Just FYI: the Shed's less-touristy sister restaurant, La Choza, is where I always bring folks instead (have been there with a couple of work prospects over the last couple of weeks). Same food, less annoying atmosphere. The locals seem to prefer it.

            1. I think Pasqual's is overrated for dinner and also expensive. However, breakfast or lunch is very good. I went to the Compound once and didn't care for the food, but most people like it. From early April through late October, the Coyote Cafe opens the rooftop Cantina, and it's one of my favorite spots. The food is a lot less costly than the main restaurant and it's very tasty. Most of the dishes are on the spicy side but not to the point of having to drink water after each bite. I haven't been to Old House since Martin Rios left to go to the Anasazi, but I have to assume that the Anasazi is just as good as when he was at Old House. I recently went to Aqua Santa for the first time, and while the menu is small and thus not for picky eaters, the food is very good; quite romantic atmosphere too. If you're in Santa Fe for a week or so and get tired of Southwestern food, try Il Piatto for excellent Italian.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ChelseaGirl

                The Anasazi is wonderful...everything about the Inn and the restaurant is impeccable....I love the outdoor patio for tapas and drinks.
                Marin Rios seems at home and happy.

                1. re: latindancer

                  I think he's at Geronimo now, though, isn't he?

                  1. re: Betsypaige

                    I apologize. Yes he is...I've been thinking alot about The Anasazi and the great food there and got the names of the chefs mixed up.
                    Nobody has mentioned the food at The Anasazi with the new chef, Oliver Ridgeway,
                    I believe his food is outstanding. He moved to Santa Fe from New York where he was chef at The Carlyle. He's originally from England and I love his fish dishes....he's very focused on freshness and quality and his food reflects it.
                    It's definately worth a try being it's situated in one of the most beautiful hotels in Santa Fe....how can anyone go wrong with a Rosewood Hotel?

                    1. re: latindancer

                      No apology necessary - just wanted to clarify. Everywhere I turn, there is another outstanding Santa Fe restaurant popping up. I may have to move there, lol

                      1. re: latindancer

                        Have thus far only had lunch and brunch at Anasazi since Oliver Ridgeway took over the kitchen and it has become one of my favorite spots in town. Geronimo is still great and I'm sure the Coyote Cafe is as well, though haven't been there since Eric DiStefano was ensconced (though it's a treat I look forward to). The Compound is good but the combinations and tastes not as bright as these other three. I was underwhelmed by Santa Cafe, La Casa Sena (though the garden is a lovely place to sit), and most of the other top spots in town, including Ristra. Keep La Boca in mind for tapas-style eating. Nice flavors, lovely plating, a fun vibe. We are always happy with a simple red wine-and-pasta dinner at Pranzo.

                        1. re: Bonnie9878

                          Thanks for the report, Bonnie! I haven't heard much about Anasazi since the new chef took over, so I'm glad to hear that it's as good as ever. Another to add to my ever-growing list?

                2. i am confused...was this question posted in may of '05 or recently?

                  1. Cheflauren- Yes, this is an old post that somehow was revived. Luckily all of the restaurants are still in business and the reviews remain the same after 2 years.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jeffinabiquiu

                      santa fe is my favorite eating town, but i was not sure why to respond if person took trip 2 years ago...i can't say i agree with all the "reviewers" though!

                      1. re: cheflauren

                        im in santa fe now and i'm really glad that this post was revived. thanks to all!

                    2. My husband and I LOVE El Farol. It's just awesome - food, wine list, ambiance etc. We love going there and look forward to going again at the end of the year! Yummy!

                      PS - If you go, try the avocado tapa.....yummy!

                      1. I am an ex New Mexico resident who still goes back to Santa Fe frequently. I have eaten in every restaurant that has been mentioned in this post - many for a dozen or so times. Here is my take, based on the quality of the food, regardless of price.

                        The top four restaurants in town are: a) Aqua Santa. Hard to describe their style. I'd call it New Mexico fusion with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. b) Trattoria Nostrini. Try it and you will understand why they are on Gourmet Magazine's 50 best restaurants list. c) The Compound. I would call their style mainstream current day American cooking. Think of the Union Square Cafe in New York with a New Mexico accent. d) Cafe Pasqual. Katherine Kagel is one of the most creative chefs in the United States. No wonder this crowded little hole in he wall has received national recognition from the James Beard foundation. Katherine starts with New Mexico and old Mexico traditions and then goes to a new level. i would happily eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there every day.

                        There are two restaurants that I have found consistently enjoyable over the last fifteen or more years: a) Casa Sena. It has become more chi chi and more expensive but the food keeps getting better. b) El Farol. Traditional tapas. It is very pleasant to sit outside for a long leisurely dinner in the summertime.

                        Alas, two great institutions of the past have gone downhill and are running on autopilot: Santa Cafe and Coyote Cafe. The food and service are not what they were. Avoid.

                        If you are looking for a restaurant that only serves traditional New Mexico food, I would recommend that you take a drive out of town. Go to the Rancho in Chimayo'. Go to Sadie's in Albuquerque where you will only find eager locals. Go to El Pinto in Albuquerque which is enormous and eats up bus loads of tourists. The locals eat there too. It keeps getting bigger because the food is so good.

                        One footnote: I may have done injustice to Geronimo. My experiences there are not recent enough for me to recommend it. Judging from other people's comments it may have improved.

                        1. Not impressed at all with The Compound. Went there for lunch on a Saturday, and the food tasted like bar food. The menu consisted of burgers (with fries), softshell crab (with fries), etc. The chocolate desert I had was very dry. I was rather disappointed.

                          1. Could anyone comment on their recent experience at Cafe Pasqual's? I have been chagrined to read some negative comments recently on our favorite place in SF.

                            Also has anyone been to the Anasazi recently?
                            It seems my favorite places have been inconsistent lately, per reviews. I haven't been in SF for months, so no personal experience.

                            1. Having lived in Santa Fe during my college years, two or three years ago, I have to warn you that both my tastes and my general cashflow were very different back then.
                              So, a run down of the places you can eat for fairly cheaply (but well!)
                              Both my boyfriend and I loved the Pantry for Sunday breakfast/brunch/lunch/early dinner. The best part of the Pantry is their Pantry burger, which is smothered with red chile, though I don't recommend it for the faint of heart.
                              Another not to be missed is La Choza, especially their sopapillas! Castros, which is far away from downtown, but a very local treat. And, if you are looking for where your average local eats, make sure to check out Blake's Lotta Burger, Dave's Not Here and Subway. Just kidding on the Subway. Please make sure to try a cheeseburger with green chile...trust me, its an amazing combination!
                              Hope you have a great time in Santa Fe!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tifsimons

                                We love Pasqual's and don't find it at all overrated (especially compared to other restaurants we've tried). On the other hand, we are vegetarian so our tastes may be different from other people's. Coyote is good, but not as good as it was when Mark Miller was in the kitchen. Ristra is very respectable. We had a terrible experience at Aqua Santa which receives rave reviews from the New York Times and others. We were very excited about trying it because we are nuts about produce and we believed from reviews that the chef was a genius with locally grown goodies. We at there on Thanksgiving and there were a number of problems.

                                First, our parents' entrees were dreadful. They had lamb, chicken, and seafood. Their desserts were not great either. A lemon tart was cloyingly sweet with no lemon tanginess.

                                Second, when my mother-in-law called, she told them that two of us are vegetarian. They said it was no problem and that they love to cook for vegetarians.

                                When we got there, there was no veggie option on the menu. My husband and I asked about something vegetarian. The waiter acted as if we were asking for the moon. He reluctantly said they might be able to put something together. We got plates of food that I would not serve at home. It looked like table scraps slopped together on a plate with no care or concern. The food had no flavor. On top of that, they had the nerve to charge $23.50 (the same price as the chicken) for the plate of slop.

                                Third, when the bill came, the restaurant had added a gratuity. This was problematic for a couple of reasons. First, the menu did not state a policy of adding gratuities. Second, they added the gratuity onto the cost of the meal (including wine) and the tax. So, they were essentially adding a 24% gratuity. Of course, this was even more offensive because the food and service were so poor.

                                When we asked them about the gratuity, they were belligerent and insisted that this was their policy. Not at all fun. The room is very nice though and we did enjoy identifying the authors whose photographs are on the walls.

                                1. re: tifsimons

                                  We just returned from Santa Fe and had lunch at Cafe Pasqual's. It was a delightful experience. The food was excellent, well-seasoned, creative. As we sat at the communal table, we met two other couples, both interesting, intelligent, and as interested in good food as we are.

                                2. Cafe Pasqual is amazing!!! I consider driving there just for the chile; especially with the huevos rancheros (about 14 hours) it's that good. If it weren't for them, a dive-y restaurant with good greasy diner food SW style is the Pantry. I concur with another post about La Choza; it's not high on ambience (but it is charmingly located) or service, but the the food was very good, albeit slightly greasy and just a notch above diner food. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal there... i think it's the same owners as the Shed? someone help me out here?

                                  1. Just wanted to make a comment here re the Coyote Cafe'...the chef at Geronimo's, has recently moved down to the Coyote Cafe, resulting in some very positive changes. Things had gotten rather 'relaxed' and inconsistent there, but all that is changing. I only hope they can keep headed in the right direction...the food is excellent! There are truly professional waiters on board, but it seems that some of the backup staff needs to get up to speed...come on folks, you could put this place back on the map! Also, for Italian, Il Piatto has it hands down by far! Give yourself a treat! Have dinner at Ginja...great atmosphere, attentive staff, and a menu of tasty delights...something for everyone.
                                    I still have to hand it to Maria's for their blue corn, green chile, chicken enchiladas (with an egg, over-easy), and their tasty margaritas!!! Ultimate comfort food...mmmm

                                    1. I must respectfully disagree, ilpiatoo, on the margaritas at Maria's. This is the worst margarita I have ever had in my entire life....Well, it wasn't just the worst. It was extremely horrible. When I questioned the waiter on the lack of fresh lime juice, he said, "Oh, we would never have time to do that!"

                                      1. Just returned from Santa Fe and want to update and clarify my previous post.

                                        First and foremost, if you could eat only one meal in Santa Fe it should be at Cafe Pasqual. It is one of the most original and creative restaurants in the United States. It has retained New Mexico traditions in some dishes and has gone far beyond in others. It is also consistent. We ate there twice and it was as good as 5, 10, 15, or 20 years ago. However, it is best for breakfast or lunch since there are so many interesting places in town for a more elegant dinner.

                                        Aqua Santa remains our favorite restaurant in town. The chef/owner Brian Knox was previously the chef at the long gone but not forgotten Cafe' Escalara. The style would be very popular in the San Francisco Bay area with the emphasis on quality ingredients speaking for themselves, some slow food movement influences, and some faint residual hits of Deborah Madison. The burrata with mustard greens was worth the trip to Santa Fe.

                                        If there are any negatives, it would be that quite a few tables have been added to the already small space at Aqua Santa. That has raised the noise level significantly. However the wait staff manages to find a path between the tables and the service is excellent.

                                        Having read good things on this 'blog about Geronimo, we went there again for the first time in many years. We were not disappointed. Every dish we had was imaginative and excellent. This is a more elegant restaurant than Aqua Santa. The tables are farther apart and the noise level is lower.

                                        With regret, I must withdraw my previous recommendation of Trattoria Nostrani. I sense a change in ownership or in the kitchen, but do not know the facts. In fairness, some of the dishes we had were excellent but others were telling. We shared a primi of gnocchi with frog legs. The gnocchi was flawless. The sauce was delicious. However, the frog legs were tough and tasteless. (At this point you are probably asking why we would order frog legs in New Mexico in December. Good question. My only answer is that at a great restaurant you would learn why it was a good idea.) For a segundi, our waiter recommended a roast baby chicken. It was tough and dry. Inexcusable.

                                        The Compound is similar to Geronimo in elegance. It seemed to have been rearranged since last year. The tables are less crowded and the overall space seems larger. I could not fault the food on any specific point, but it did not seem to have the excitement or sparkle that it had when the restaurant was re-opened in 2000 under Mark Kiffin.

                                        Having had a bad experience the last two or three times we went to Coyote Cafe', we did not go there this trip.

                                        I like the Shed, but not so much that I think that it is worth waiting line when there are other good places near by. We bypassed the line at the Shed and had a very enjoyable meal at Casa Sena.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jmoule

                                          Just a comment about Coyote Cafe... note that in late fall it was sold and one of the four new partners is also the Exec Chef; Eric De Stefano formerly of Geronimo. It is worth another try.

                                          And, nothing has changed either with ownership or in the kitchen at Trattoria Nostrani. Possibly just an "off night" given that over the Holidays places were busy. Or, was it a Sunday when many kitchens are too often relaxed... not meant to excuse but just a thought.

                                        2. I had a great dinner at the Compound in October. Customers from Los Angeles, SF and Phoenix were very impressed.

                                          1. We just ate at Coyote Cafe and it was par excellance. I would recommend it hands down. We ate at the bar because we did not have reservations and watched an academy award cooking experience. Nonetheless, it was great. Try it again.

                                            1. Just wanted to add that we had lunch at Pasquals and dinner at The Shed. We thought both were very good. This is hard, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Pasquals. I think the food was a little more refined...if that is a good word to use. But, both are definitely up to par and definite eateries not to be missed.

                                              1. Just visiting Santa Fe for the first time in a long time but thought I'd weigh in on our experience - Re: Coyote cafe...the decor is horrid southwest, the room noisy and lively (not necessarily a bad thing), the service terrific and the food delicious but totally over the top - lots of creamy sauces. Its the kind of place that reminds me of fine dining in Las Vegas. Also, the drinks are just silly - you can't just order a beer, they will sell you a beer with a squeeze of yuzu and some sweet froth on top! The wine I ordered came with gelatinous rosewater "caviar" that the waiter spooned in to the glass at our table. It was fun though. We only had time for "blunch" at O'Keefe Cafe but it was perfect and delicious - nice decor, impeccable service, and wonderful food that was interesting but not trying too hard. Crab salad with avocado and a slightly middle eastern dressing was subtle and fresh and served with delicous greens. Will definitely go back there for dinner, as they had a prix fixe tasting menu for $70/person (for I think 6 courses) that looked wonderful.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: inwatermelonsugar

                                                  I am coming to Santa fe on Sept. 19. I am staying ta the new Auburge property called Encantado. It's supposed to be very nice. Several friends (one that has a vacation house there) have recommended La Boca - we'll go there one night. The concierge is pushing Coyote. I've planned on eating at the resorts retaurant Terra (has anyone heard anything about it?) one night and am not into two over the top dinners in a row. I think Coyote might be a little much. Where would you recommend? I don't want to go to another Tapas place. Awua Santa seems to get consistently good reviews. Any assistance is appreciated.

                                                  1. re: inwatermelonsugar

                                                    inwaatermelonsugar, you nailed it about Coyote Cafe: fine dining in Vegas. Perfect. Too many good options in Santa Fe to bother with it.

                                                  2. Hey, wifey and I will be making our annual anniversay trip to SF end of October. We will eat one meal at Pasqual's--no way it's overrated (just try the chicken livers with chipotle). There have been some changes since last year (MM out, diStefano in at CC, Julia's gone now Amavi, etc). I'm a big fan of Mark Miller and what he's done for western american food, just read he closed down Red Sage in DC and is to be "consulting chef" at new Red Sage at Hilton Buffalo Thunder in Pojoque. Is is open yet, will it be stunning?
                                                    We love the idiosyncratic food at Bert's La Taqueria, but migh be looking for something new this time. I'll be looking here on the board for the next month for any assistance from like-minded foodies. Thanks.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: slomacd

                                                      Bad news on Red Sage at Buffalo Thunder - I was dissapointed like never before... I would recommend El Ferol (always makes me say "wow!") El Nido, yummy and fancy, but not ever, ever Red Sage...
                                                      Appetizers: we had a cured meat which was the best part of the evening, friends had shrimp that was fishy at best.
                                                      Main course: one of our party had salmon, one beef ribeye (best meal of the 4), my husband had buffalo and I had beef tenderloin. Four bites into my meal a hair was under the steak, no biggie, not squemish but wanted the waiter to know. He whisked away my plate, and didn't return.
                                                      No one ever came over to visit with me, and our ticket revealed full price for a meal that was whisked away from me after only 4 bites! Why didn't I go to task, it was a treat from an older friend who went way out of his way to take us on this treat...I didn't want to spoil his fun in any way shape or form.
                                                      $350 for 4 of us and ok food with a mixture of fair-poor staff. Just not inspiring, and especially when such good food is around. Even Gabriels, close by, is a much better pick!
                                                      Enjoy, SF does have some terrific food, just not this spot...

                                                      1. re: beefisfine

                                                        I always found Ristra to be an excellent restaurant...why doesn't it get more accolades?

                                                        1. re: sounddog

                                                          We ate at Ristra last week and had a great experience. Great mix of French and Southwest. Squash blossom tempura was wonderful, as was the arugula/fig/crispy yucca salad. Thoroughly enjoyed the crispy salmon and the filet. Service was friendly and attentive but not overbearing or stuffy.

                                                          Other favorites -- Pasquals' blue corn pancake with veggies, Tia Sophia's breakfast burrito. We also really liked the Shed. Had a good time watching the World Series at the Blue Corn Cafe's bar, munching on loaded nachos.

                                                    2. I just got back from a road trip which included Santa Fe. I absolutely LOVED Maria's. I tried their combo platter and the enchiladas and chile rellenos were out of this world, their chile (sauce) divine. The taco was good, not great. The tamale was just a perfect morsel of moist masa and smoky shredded pork in an earthy red sauce. My favorite place in the city.

                                                      I also stopped by Cafe Pasqual for breakfast and had their huevos rancheros. Very, very good but I must admit I was sort of turned off by the whole ambience. The wait staff seem ditzy and somehow I just wasn't all that comfortable. Would I go back again? Sure, but I'd try a couple of other local places like the Shed and others again first.

                                                      Unfortunately Bobcat Bite, which is way out on the eastern outskirts of the town had just switched to winter hours and they were not open on the days I was in town. Next time, for sure.

                                                      1. I just returned from a short trip to Santa Fe with my mom and we ate at Coyote Cafe, Geronimo's and Cafe Pasqual's.

                                                        Coyote Cafe - the best food we ate in Santa Fe - The decor was a little too southwest for my taste, but the service and food were outstanding. The food was rich, but not over the top and there was a great variety of options on the menu. I also think the prices were very reasonable for the amount of food you got. I ordered the truffle risotto appetizer and the buttermilk pan fried chicken (not your ordinary fried chicken). I set a very high standard for risotto so I don't typically order it in restaurants, but after discussing the option with the waiter, I decided to try it and I was not disappointed. This was some of the best risotto I have ever eaten. My mom ordered the salmon and asparagus and loved both of them.

                                                        Cafe Pasqual's - very good breakfast - we ate here twice for breakfast and had a great experience both times. I love that they use lots of organic ingredients and they make their own sausage and chorizo. I would like to try it out for lunch or dinner sometime.

                                                        Gernonimo's - I would not go back - The food and service were both disappointing. I can forgive mediocre service if the food is outstanding, but this restaurant had neither. We arrived around 8 pm and waited at the host stand for five minutes (we were the only people waiting). Three waiters walked by and told us the host would be with us in just a minute, but we had to wait five minutes before we ever saw the host and they were not even busy. I ordered halibut which was unexciting and bland. The side dish of spinach with shallots tasted and looked like something I could quickly make at home. My mom was disappointed with her scallops, which she said had no flavor. There were two couples eating at the table next to us and they kept complaining about how bad the food was too.

                                                        After dinner at Geronimo's we went back to Coyote Cafe for dessert, which was excellent. We sat at the chef's table and had an excellent time talking to the chef. I ordered a chocolate almond mousse cake and it was delicious. The chef also gave us a sample of their short ribs with risotto, which was mouth watering.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jenniferverde

                                                          Never thought of trying the seafood at Geronimo . . . sounds like I didn't miss anything.

                                                        2. The Shed is mediocre at best -- unless you think that "Boil chicken, pour adobo sauce on top, serve" is a recipe. If you appreciate Mexican or New Mexican food, you'll wonder why you waited an hour at this glorified Taco Bell.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: dangle

                                                            "Adobo sauce"? Dangle, this makes me wonder about your cred - I've never had anything approaching adobo sauce at The Shed or La Choza. Just boring old NM red chile - decently done, I might add.

                                                            No, New Mexican cooking is not sophisticated - we're talking peasant food here. There's an art to doing it well, but if you're looking for haute cuisine, I don't know why you'd be looking in The Shed.

                                                            1. re: Erich

                                                              I agree with you Erich. The Shed, to me, is NM comfort food. Good and basic. basic

                                                          2. While I have to admit this thread was so long, I didn't read it all, and I have to guess you have come and gone from Santa Fe, I would like to submit my vote for The Compound. Don't know if they are open for lunch at this point in time, but I have to think you could not do better for dinner!

                                                            1. I just had Thanksgiving at Fuego at la Posada. I am always amazed why this restaurant does not make peoples top five in Santa Fe. They did a four course set menu and carved a whole turkey at every table and then wrapped the turkey to take home.

                                                              It was unbelievable. This was our second year there for T day and we go there whenever we can. Fuego and Trot. Nostrani are head and shoulders above the rest of Santa Fe.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: avgjoke

                                                                I have to laugh at this though.
                                                                Someone I know very well went to Santa Fe recently to take some much needed rest and relaxation.
                                                                She stayed at La Posada and spent 3 hours at the spa before going to Nostrani. She was looking forward to an enjoyable meal at one of her favorite restaurants. Upon entering the restaurant she was asked to go into the washroom and clean herself of what was left from her spa experience.
                                                                She does not wear perfume, ever, but her clean spa scent somehow offended the restaurant.
                                                                She knows their policy about perfume and was aghast at the nerve of the manager in this particular case....


                                                              2. I want to add El Mason to this list. It's downtown, next to the public library. They have Spanish Tappas and and a variety of ports. The chef went to Spain to get the whole tappa thing down before opening the place. There is a bar and dining area with a very comfortable atmosphere and good service. It's less expensive than Coyote Cafe but more than Horsman's Haven - but worth it. Bon Appetit! :-)

                                                                1. seems like this blog goes on forever, that said ~ I can't wait to get back to SF, as it's my favorite city in the U.S. and I feel it has great food (that my mouth is watering for now!).
                                                                  my favs..
                                                                  Cafe Pasquel - breakfast or lunch
                                                                  Coyote Cafe
                                                                  the Shed
                                                                  and when we fly into Albequerque - I go straight to Sadies!!

                                                                  any places I'm missing .........??

                                                                  1. I've travel the country and have eaten at many "celebrity chef" restaurants and my dinner at the coumpond was by far the best total dining exprience i've have in years.

                                                                    I will say it was the only restaurant I dined at while in Sante Fe and y'all that live there are very lucky it's a great place!!

                                                                    1. Must try Mauka...
                                                                      Very distinctive, very imaginative.
                                                                      Chef /Owner Joel Coleman was formerly of MuDu noodles.
                                                                      Restaurant of the year by the Santa Fean.
                                                                      My personal favorites...Lamb Udon...duck confit ravioli...sashimi app.
                                                                      Fish is always perfect.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: kennythepig

                                                                        The Shed, Pasquals, SantaCafe, Coyote, Railyard. All tourist Traps. AVOID THEM. Those are the places Rachel Ray eats. Also, this is SF -- that is Santa Fe, NOT San Francisco, so if you expect A-1 seafood, well.....not to say you can't get it, but be smart here.

                                                                        1. re: mythomane

                                                                          I'll agree with you on the seafood bit, but not on the Shed or Santacafe. Yes, Santa Fe is a tourist town (thank goodness or we wouldn't have all these nice restaurants!), so you either need to deal with that or hit some "locals" spots (e.g. The Pantry, Adelita's, yum).

                                                                          Now, as for the Shed...yes, it can get crowed and you may have to wait for a table, and there may be many tourists, but I enjoy the place (and the vibe). I sometimes eat alone at the bar, but mostly with my wife or friends in the restaurant. I'm sure you know that they have a sister place (La Choza) and they both serve New Mexican cuisine. I find the food fine, and though some people blanche at it, I like the strange contrast of the garlic bread with the other dishes.

                                                                          And Santacafe? I can't recall a bad experience there (though I'm sure others have had some...it happens). My wife and I prefer lunch, especially in good weather, under the cottonwoods. It's more reasonably priced then and you can't beat the New Mexico weather under those beautiful trees! We enjoy the crispy calamari (I guess I'm contradicting myself on the seafood this one time but they know how to cook it briefly so it doesn't get rubbery) and the desserts are excellent (one day I would like to meet the pastry chef!). Dinner is also good, just a bit more formal and more expensive (the inside of the restaurant, an old "real" adobe building, is as beautiful as the courtyard). They also have a nice bar (with a fair collection of half-bottles of wine) if you're alone and don't like to eat by yourself at a table.

                                                                          Anyway, not trying to jam on you mythomane, just different strokes I guess.

                                                                          www.tandaapproved.com Restaurant reviews for Santa Fe and northern New Mexico

                                                                          1. re: tandaapproved

                                                                            Another local's vote for The Shed. Good food, good prices and so what if the "tourists" eat here, so do the locals.


                                                                      2. A new must try:
                                                                        MuDu noodles is now serving Sunday Brunch.
                                                                        I went on the first Sunday, and it was great!
                                                                        It was sort of ike Dim Sum, but with MU in the kitchen, everything was superb.

                                                                        1. re: MYTHOMANE
                                                                          Can't quite agree with your choices, you like Geronimo, )which I have NEVER in 12 years enjoyed, average food at NYC prices) , yet you dismiss Shed, Santa Cafe, and Pasquals all as tourist traps?
                                                                          I think that you need to avoid Santa Fe all together.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: kennythepig

                                                                            re: PIG
                                                                            Those places are tourist traps. If you think the food at the Shed is better than that at Geronimo....it is pretty obvious where you stand.

                                                                            1. re: mythomane

                                                                              I'm with you mythomane, all the way, however the bad news is that chef, Martin Rios, has left Geronimo.
                                                                              My favorite chef in Santa Fe and I'm really bummed because, while he's opening a new gig of his in September, I'll have already come and gone.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                I have a reservation at Geronimo. Should I reconsider?

                                                                                1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                                                  Personally I think you should keep your reservation and check it out.
                                                                                  The new menu is 'French/Asian' and I'm curious to see how Chef Eric DiStephano executes his vision for the new Geronimo. I haven't read any reviews, have you?
                                                                                  I am so saddened to see Martin Rios leave but I, like you, have reservations soon and love the setting of Geronimo. If you loved the food with Martin Rios at the helm then I guess we'll just have to wait for his new restaurant to open.
                                                                                  I'll keep my fingers crossed for both of us :).

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    Wait - I thought DiStefano decamped a while back for Coyote Cafe.

                                                                                    I'm personally skeptical about French-Asian, in general. I will have to see the menu (not that that will help much).

                                                                                    1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                                                      Apparently he now owns both Coyote Cafe and Geronimo and is chef at Geronimo.
                                                                                      It's hard to keep up with the chefs in Santa Fe bouncing from restaurant to restaurant.
                                                                                      I'm with you regarding French-Asian but I've got quite a few nights in town and I just need to experience what's happening there. I just hope, like you, the menu looks interesting.
                                                                                      The menu I've loved is completely gone and I'm missing it already.

                                                                          2. I'm a chef from Chicago with a good knowledge of food. Reading Chowhound, always enjoyable, one gets a lot of mixed advice - places being both "must eats" and "tourist traps". In a city like Santa Fe, probably most decent restaurants are touristy to an extent. We just returned from a 3 day trip, our first, so here is our report. Take as a caveat that we only ate at each place once.

                                                                            Sophia's (Albuquerque) - very good New Mex breakfast in a cute shack with outdoor seating. Great coffee.
                                                                            Cafe Pasqual's - very good New Mex dinner in a warm, sort of 60's Santa Fe room, and on a Saturday night (with reservations!).
                                                                            Cafe Tecolote - very good New Mex breakfast in rather plain room.
                                                                            Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery for afternoon snacks - corporate concept food and environment, although my India Pale Ale was decent.
                                                                            (Getting a bit tired of tortillas and beans at this point.)
                                                                            Il Piatto - sharp, outstanding Italian dinner in this casual bistro on a quiet street off the square
                                                                            Coyote Cantina - very good to outstanding casual New Mex lunch set in a very enjoyable and brilliantly architected 2nd floor outdoor cafe.
                                                                            Harry's Roadhouse - Pub fare for dinner, a cut above Chili's or Fridays, and barely. Not worth the drive.
                                                                            Chocolate Maven - very good American breakfast and pastries, fair coffee, and with fun seating against a big glass window allowing us to watch croissants being made.

                                                                            Based upon this limited experience, I would expect the other heralded New Mex places like the Shed and Choza to be very good. Are they brilliant, radically better than what might be found in Chicago? No. Are they terrific examples of local cuisine, and just sort of places you hope to find while traveling? Absolutely.

                                                                            Finally, this blog was very helpful and, except for my quibble about Harry's, reliable.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: ChefJerry

                                                                              ChefJerry: Thanks for the round-up. I'm headed to SF and am grappling with the same dilemma: nothing seems to pass musters with locals. All the usual suspects have been mentioned. I'll be in SF for three dinners and two lunches. One dinner has to be relatively quick, as I have curtain at 8pm.

                                                                              So far, I have:

                                                                              Lunch: Coyote Cafe
                                                                              Lunch: Cafe Pasqual's

                                                                              Dinner: Geronimo
                                                                              Dinner: The Compound
                                                                              Dinner: La Boca

                                                                              Feel free to try to change my mind. It's willing and able.

                                                                            2. Question about Santa Fe:
                                                                              We'll be in Santa Fe for a few days next month, midweek. On most of the restaurant web sites I've visited, they recommend reservations. Is this really necessary for dinner midweek, or is that mostly an issue on the weekends? Even some places that appear somewhat casual seem to recommend reservations.

                                                                              Also, there are some great places listed here, but we're traveling somewhat on a grad student budget. We have some room to splurge, but we can't eat every meal at a fine dining establishment.

                                                                              If you ate one pricey, fine dining dinner, where would you do it?

                                                                              Any good places that offer good food that are more budget friendly? We're open to just about any type of cuisine, but we of course are looking forward to sampling the local specialties.

                                                                              Overall, regardless of price, etc., Cafe Pasqual, El Farol and Maria's have caught my eye, but I haven't done in-depth investigating, and I am also not the kind of traveler who likes to plan out every meal and activity in advance. I mostly would like a general sense of what's around.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: rweater

                                                                                As for reservations, this is the start of "season" in SF and restaurants tend not to be open too late during week, so they may in fact be full if you want to eat at prime times. If you go early 5 to 6, you might be ok, but then you might miss out. The big name places, reservations for sure.

                                                                                The Chocolate Maven This was really good. We had lunch there. It had a great menu with a variety of items and it was hard to choose. DH had a risotto with feta, shrimp and basil. It was very good, but it took a really long time for it to come out of the kitchen. They were busy, but this was the special and one would have thought it would be out a bit faster. I had bagel, lox and cream cheese. It was very good. The desserts are why people flock to this place. We took some chocolate almond croissants with us. They were very good. [it is a bit out of the way, but worth finding]

                                                                                821 W San Mateo Rd Ste C http://www.chocolatemaven.com/

                                                                                La Choza This was a really good spot for lunch, away from the plaza. Same owners as The Shed, but less expensive and a bit more local with New Mexican food. I had chile rellenos with posole which was excellent. DH had a carne burritos. Sopapillos were served on the side, nice and light and fluffy.

                                                                                905 Alarid St www.sfshed.com/lachoza.htm

                                                                                Andiamo! for wonderful Italian done simply and at reasonable prices. This was a really good experience. DH had fried oysters with aioli, I had gravlax and arrugula salad. We both had rack of lamb for dinner. DH had flourless chocolate torte and I had profiteroles with fudge sauce and ice cream.

                                                                                322 Garfield St http://www.andiamoonline.com/

                                                                                La Boca for tapas . We ordered a few plates to start. Olives, almonds, duck. All were very good. I was sure we were going to have to order so many plates because the portions were so small. The service was slow, so by the time we got the first round of plates, we were full and didn't order anymore.

                                                                                72 West Marcy St, http://www.labocasantafe.com/

                                                                                We had lunch at Torino's 227 Don Gaspar Ave., Inside Santa Fe Village and again, away from the crowds. You wouldn't know it was here if you weren't looking for it..Italian/French home style cooking at great prices. DH had a caprise salad and I had a salad nicoise. Both were really good and great price.

                                                                                Paris Cafe on 31 Burro Alley Street, around the corner from Lensik Theatre for a bistro meal that is very good.



                                                                                1. re: DebitNM

                                                                                  La Boca's broken website has irked me for at least 5 months now. I'm planning my own trip to Santa Fe and would like to see what kind of a menu they have. Trattoria Nostrani's website link is also broken.

                                                                                  1. re: ulterior epicure

                                                                                    Sorry bout the link for La Boca; it worked when I originally did restaurant report in January.

                                                                                    The food there was excellent but the tables are very close together, so there isn't much elbow room or private conversations. The good thing about that is you can see what everyone else is eating!


                                                                                  2. re: DebitNM

                                                                                    Thanks Debit!

                                                                                    Those look like some excellent suggestions. We're only going to be there for two nights, so I think that we should be able to do some advance planning for dinner if it's just two nights.

                                                                                  3. re: rweater

                                                                                    We've been in Santa Fe for a week and have had many good meals. This morning's breakfast was not one of them. We opened the Paris Cafe in Burro Alley and ordered omelets: she had Lyonnais, I a plain. Both were dessicated. Her's had crumbled bacon and cheese, also dry. On the side were tasteless grilled potatoes. and two anorexic slices of baguette. That was it. Had this been dished out at summer camp, I'd not mind. But maybe I'm too harsh. Perhaps the owner when he chose a name for the place had in mind Paris, Texas.
                                                                                    Apparently the pasties, which seem to star at this place, are not to be had at table, unless you wnat to spend $7.50 a portion. which given the place's simple nature seems excessive.
                                                                                    Good meals? Plenty: our best were dinner and breakfast at La Plazuela (La Fonda), lunch at La Vinaigrette (salads, sandwhiches) and at La Choza, pastries and coffee at Sage Bakery, tapas at El Farol and La Boca (LB the better).The Shed was as good as usual. Tia Sophia, though it does bring in tourists like us, also has a loyal local clientele. Just avoid Paris Cafe--at least for breakfast.

                                                                                    La Boca
                                                                                    72 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                                                                                    La Choza Restaurant
                                                                                    905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

                                                                                    El Farol
                                                                                    808 Canyon Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                                                                                    Tia Sophia's
                                                                                    210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

                                                                                  4. We just got back from Santa Fe on Thursday, first give up the reservation idea. Because of the economy, the place is a ghost town. We stayed at Hotel Plaza Real, a historic hotel next to Inn of the Anasazi, for $126 per night ,Internet Special.
                                                                                    Stay away from all the tourist traps. Cafe Pasqual, The Shed, Coyote Cafe,
                                                                                    Breakfast Tia Sophia's half the price of Cafe Pasqual and better food,
                                                                                    We ate late at the Cantina, which is the bar next to La Casa Sena, which by the way had about 4 tables full, the bar was hopping and they had great singers singing Broadway show tunes.
                                                                                    Best meal, I agree with Chef Jerry is Il Piatto 95 W. Marcy St. I spent a month in Italy two years ago and this was better food. Great Italian wines by the glass since sometimes the hubby wants red and I want white, A fixed price menu and you can order a few entrees as appetizers and do it tapas style. Huge Italian pork chop. When you ask for Parmesan, their idea is a whole bowl of freshly shaved Parmesan Regganio! Yummy
                                                                                    Don't forget to have a drink at the Ore House on the balcony overlooking the Plaza, my one tourist indulgence. You can tell the place is dead you could actually get a balcony table for Happy Hour.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: marcb71a

                                                                                      Certainly, just like every other city in the world, Santa Fe is feeling the economy.
                                                                                      However, that being said, this time of year the Opera and, in August, Indian Market makes the town much busier, with people coming from all parts of the world, than it normally is during the off season when the weather begins to change.
                                                                                      There are hotels in Santa Fe that have been booked for months, and impossible to book, during this time. It really depends on the hotel and the clientele.