Santa Fe is a culinary destination that prides itself on remaining loyal to the ingredients grown and produced in the American Southwest. Fine dining does not necessarily go hand in hand with white tablecloths, but no matter the design style of the restaurant, you can rest assured that you will eat well. Here are a few of the places that we recently enjoyed.
A 15-minute drive from downtown brings you to this establishment hidden away in the rolling hills west of the city. The restaurant sources ingredients from local farmers wherever possible, and most of the produce comes from its own two-acre garden. The seasonally changing menu serves Italian-influenced contemporary dishes. Starters may include yellowfin tuna enhanced by a whiskey barrel-aged shoyu sauce, candied jalapeño and pickled kumquat, or a rich parsnip risotto. My main course of braised beef short ribs, with crushed Yukons, charred-onion broth, spring vegetables and horseradish crust, was outstanding. Arroyo Vino also has an excellent wine shop that offers tasting workshops most Saturdays.
218 Camino La Tierra. Tel. (505) 983-2100
This bright and cheerful restaurant in a historic pueblo-style adobe building in the heart of downtown is a lively spot to enjoy traditional Southwestern meals. The colorful dining room with bright-blue chairs and walls lined with vibrant murals is a perfect setting in which to enjoy blue-corn enchiladas, spicy chiles rellenos, and carne asada skewers accompanied by a zesty tomato-jalapeño salsa. This is an informal dining option that is in tune with the spirit of Santa Fe. The wait for a table can be long, so it is worth trying this spot for lunch.
121 Don Gaspar Avenue. Tel. (505) 983-9340
Chef Mark Miller, who began his career under the tutelage of Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, opened this restaurant in 1987. Though he is no longer at the helm, it has upheld his cooking style, with contemporary cuisine that highlights native ingredients. Start with the beef tenderloin tartare topped by a quail egg with shishito peppers, blue-corn crackers and a red wine-shallot marmalade. The elk tenderloin was delicious, but it was the diver scallops over a crêpe made of red chile and vanilla that was the highlight of our meal. The rooftop cantina is also ideal for a pre- or post-dinner drink.
132 West Water Street. Tel. (505) 983-1615
Small-plate aficionados will relish this Spanish restaurant conveniently located on the gallery-lined Canyon Road. Begin with tapas such as alcachofas (grilled artichokes) served with a lemon-thyme aioli, citrusy shrimp ceviche with pickled chile, and fried calamari. Of the list of main dishes, opt for the signature paella, where chicken, chorizo, shrimp and mussels are mixed with rich saffron rice, piquillo peppers and lima beans. I highly recommend reserving one of the dinner shows to watch dancers from the National Institute of Flamenco.
808 Canyon Road. Tel. (505) 983-9912
The creative menu offered at this elegant family-owned restaurant changes regularly. The emphasis is on local fruits and vegetables sourced from nearby farms. My chilled spring pea soup was refreshing, and the roasted pork belly accompanied by kohlrabi, rice dumplings and a plum glaze was delicious. I ordered a pork chop served with a spicy carrot cake. When a steak was mistakenly placed in front of me, the waitress came over to apologize profusely and the general manager offered me a complimentary glass of wine. I look forward to returning to this fine restaurant on my next trip to Santa Fe.
526 Galisteo Street. Tel. (505) 820-0919