Located within the Inn of the Anasazi, the Anasazi Restaurant is among the most respected restaurants in Santa Fe, serving a creative Southwestern, Native American cuisine. Grilled buffalo burgers and tortilla soup are among the more casual lunch fare, but you can go upscale for dinner with innovative dishes such as wild boar chops with bourbon glaze and dry-rubbed beef tenderloin with white-cheddar mashed potatoes. Breakfast is top notch too, with homemade scones and French toast. Rough wood tables, adobe banquettes and local weavings add a rugged look to this shiny Four-Diamond-rated restaurant and also carry the desert theme throughout. Look closely and you may spot a visiting celebrity.
The Anasazi Restaurant
113 Washington Ave.
Hard to believe you'd find a traditional French bistro residing in this wild west town, but that's exactly what you have in (Bistro) 315. 315 sports a seasonal menu that includes Steak frites au poivre, mustard crusted rack of lamb, organic vegetables and a properly decadent creme brulee. The nightly specials are carefully chalked on a blackboard menu each evening, just like you'd find in a respected Parisian neighborhood restaurant. Moderately priced ($20 to $30 range), this is a good option when you need a night off from the goat cheese, poblano chili fare that permeates this New Mexican town. The nearby 315 Wine Bar features more than 250 wines from around the world, and patio dining is available during warm weather. Make reservations in advance. This is one of the tiniest places in a town full of tiny restaurants.
315 Old Santa Fe Trail
If lines out the door are any indication, then Café Pasqual's is the city's premiere dining experience. Small and homey with hand-painted tile walls and knots of ristras for decoration, the atmosphere is festive and the northern New Mexican cuisine with Asian overtones speaks for itself. The prices, comparatively speaking, are very affordable. The grilled salmon burrito with herbed goatcheese and cucumber sauce, along with the shrimp in lemongrass, corn cakes with cilantro and rack of lamb bring a brisk dinner business, but breakfast is the true sleeper hit. Hour-long lines wrap around the block for Yucatan huevos Motulenos, chorizo burritos and whole wheat pancakes. Prices range from $6 to $13. If things are really busy (and they almost always are) you may be seated at the huge wooden communal table. Be prepared for some lively local conversation.
121 Don Gaspar Ave.
Chef/owner Mark Miller, recognized and celebrated founder of Modern Southwestern cuisine, continues to impress with this landmark establishment in Santa Fe. With an urban Southwestern atmosphere accentuated by calf skin covered chairs and exhibition-style kitchen, he dazzles a tourist-heavy crowd with huge 22-ounce rib-eye steaks, wild boar sausage, duck quesadillas, and piles of red chile onion rings. If you go for dinner, be prepared to eat big. Those with smaller appetites should go for lunch or ask to sit at the chef's counter, a first-come, first-serve area where you can order a la carte. Two adjunct establishments offer additional variety--Rooftop Cantina, for light Latino/Cuban fare served wtih cocktails on the terrace, and Cottonwoods, a new ground floor addition for reasonably priced diner-style food. Then there's the general store below the restaurant, which sells hot sauces and other Southwestern foodstuffs.
132 Water St.
Fuego, in the La Posada hotel, has continued to make a name for itself among city gourmets. The AAA-rated, Four-Diamond award recipient presents a dining room that's ripe for romance, with darkly elegant decor that includes low lights and big Moroccan-style pillows along Mexican benches. But it's the food that really sets the tone. An American contemporary menu comes with Southwestern touches: buffalo tenderloin on a white bean ragout, black tiger shrimp with honey and garlic or a spicy tortilla soup served for lunch and dinner. Sip wine in front of the fire or dine under the stars. Fuego is an expensive proposition, but most consider it worthwhile for executive chef Rahm Fama's inspired creations.
330 East Palace Ave.
Book reservations well in advance for the critically acclaimed, Geronimo, a beautiful adobe restaurant along Canyon Road with an appropriately Southwestern title and long history. Appetizers like Maryland blue crab strudel, and entrees like mesquite grilled elk, roasted duck rellenos oozing with goat cheese, and the exotic ostrich make up this eclectic menu. While the food is terrific, the ambience competes for star billing: a 250-year-old building with traditional thick mud walls, cushioned banquettes, an airy porch, and a maze of rooms that seems to go on forever. It seats many and that's a good thing since this is one of the most consistently popular restaurants in town.
724 Canyon Rd.
La Casa Sena
A favorite for lunch, La Casa Sena serves up Southwestern and Mexican dishes in a 19th century Territorial-style adobe house just off the Plaza. Enchiladas, pastas and chicken sandwiches are typical mid-day fare served on the bustling patio. For dinner, things get creative with entrees like tequila and grapefruit cured salmon nachos and chipotle quail salad served in the more formal dining room. Patio dining is also available during the summer months. La Casa Sena also boasts an award-winning wine list that features more than 1,000 wines. Next door at the Cantina the wait staff serves more modest fare and then sings tunes from Broadway musicals cabaret style. Together, this well-established combo offers a quintessential Santa Fe experience.
La Casa Sena
125 East Palace Ave.
Maria's New Mexican Kitchen
There are those who would argue that Maria's New Mexican Kitchen serves the best Mexican fare in Santa Fe. For certain, the place is a tradition here. Started in 1952 when Maria and Gilbert Lopez started a small takeout kitchen in the area where you now find the bar and kitchen, Maria's has grown a great deal in both size and menu options, not to mention Tequila, at the forefront of some 100 different Margaritas. More than thirty Mexican specialties are served including traditional fajitas, rellenos, blue corn enchiladas, and steak served with green chile. Though Maria is long gone, the food is still among the best inexpensive fare in the city.
Maria's New Mexican Kitchen
555 West Cordova Rd.
Pranzo Italian Grill
Pranzo offers diners a contemporary atmosphere and food prepared on an open grill. The environment is not fancy and upscale, nor are its traditional menu items. Homemade soups, salads, creative thin-crust pizzas, and fresh pastas are among the less expensive dishes, while the "Specialita" section offers more creativity as with the Fattoria a Tavola lamb dish, or the Vitello Marsala veal with creamy mushroom sauce and roasted red potatoes. For traditional pasta, Spaghettini Con Aglio Gamberoni features a bevy of ingredients including shrimp and provolone. Once a Santa Fe hangout for Hollywood stars, today's Pranzo is less about limelight and more about consistency and simplicity, combining tasty fare with a reasonable price. The upstairs rooftop terrace makes for a terrific post-dinner visit for a glass of red and glimpse of the moon.
Pranzo Italian Grill
Located in the 200-year-old Padre Gallegos House, Santacafe is an elegant Santa Fe eatery serving New American and Southwestern cuisine. In warm weather you can sit on a boulder-strewn courtyard and dive into appetizers like roasted tomato soup, spring rolls stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and marinated cactus pads, all creative and delicious. For dinner try the Chilean sea bass served over corn and roasted sweet peppers or medallions of pork. Desserts, which range from chocolate upside down cake to raspberry pudding, are worth the calories here. There's also a prodigious wine list.
231 Washington Ave.
Chef/owner Mark Kiffin, formerly of Coyote CafŽ and lately of "Best Chef of the Southwest" acclaim, has revitalized The Compound, a renowned restaurant at the cultural center of Santa Fe. Loosening the culinary reins, Kiffin produces a contemporary twist to artful American fare with some of the boldest and most flavorful food in the area. For starters, try the tuna tartare topped with Osetra caviar, or trevisio and endive salad with cabrales cheese. For an entree, the signature grilled beef tenderloin, generously served with Italian potatoes and foie gras hollandaise may deter any thoughts of dessert and coffee consumption. For those who dare, however, a great finish is either the bittersweet chocolate torte or the delightfully sweet sugarcoated buttermilk biscuit. During warmer months, enclosed patio dining is available.
653 Canyon Rd.
It's almost unthinkable to leave the American Southwest without sampling some spicy "New" Mexican food. You'll find it in quantity at The Shed, within its venerable 17th century adobe building, which houses a delectable blend of traditional Hispanic, Pueblo and Mexican influenced cooking. Grab a generous helping of the green chile stew with spicy potato and pork, dig into the blue corn enchiladas with red chile, beans and posole, or the Pollo Adobo, about as good as it gets. All dishes are served with French garlic bread, an unusual but lifelong tradition at The Shed. A luncheon institution for more than 50 years, it gets crowded quickly, but fortunately you have a pleasant hacienda courtyard to ramble around in while you wait.
113 1/2 East Palace Ave.