Entrance at Café Pasqual's, Santa Fe, American West

Café Pasqual's

Yes, it’s been covered by every major magazine; yes, you can order T-shirts and baseball caps off the menu; and no, you will definitely not be the only tourist here; but locals adore the Pasqual’s and frequent it for breakfast, brunch and lunch (but never dinner). The split-level dining room is straight out of a kids’ book on New Mexico, with colorful banners, wall murals and bunches of chiles suspended from the ceiling. The food is typically Southwestern and Nuevo Latino and includes perfectly prepared classics, like huevos rancheros and enchiladas, as well as hearty creations, like huevos motuleños (eggs over easy on corn tortillas with black beans and topped with sautéed bananas, feta cheese and salsa). Owner Katharine Kagel has long held a farm to table philosophy, so the ingredients are mostly organic and locally sourced locally. With just 50 seats, there’s always a line for a table (you can cut the wait time if you agree to sit at a large communal table in the center), but everyone waits, and the local scene makes the whole experience a lot of fun.

Food at El Farol, Santa Fe, American West

El Farol

Said to be the oldest restaurant in town, El Farol occupies a rustic adobe building on Canyon Road, so it’s a great choice for lunch while gallery-hopping; although to get a taste of the boisterous, bohemian ambience, complete with live music and dance performances, you’ll have to come for dinner (for a more sedate tapas scene, head to El Meson or La Boca). El Farol’s menu is heavily Spanish- and Portuguese-influenced and includes more than forty tapas, including chorizo de Rioja, gambas al ajillo, jamón serrano and albondigas. The flamenco performances at El Farol are extremely popular and usually sell out.

Food at La Casa Sena, Santa Fe, American West

La Casa Sena

Housed in a hacienda dating from the late 19th century, La Casa Sena occupies a picturesque courtyard, a flower-filled extravaganza centered on a splashing fountain; it’s a half- block from the Plaza but feels a world apart. Like the Café Pasqual, La Casa Sena is big on local and seasonal food, and nearly all the produce, meat and fish on chef Patrick Gharrity’s menu is farmed or harvested in a sustainable manner. The lunch menu features salads and sandwiches, as well as classic New Mexico options including enchiladas. Before or after a meal, don’t miss the La Casa Sena wine shop and Todos Santos Chocolates, which are part of the courtyard complex.

Food at La Choza, Santa Fe, American West

La Choza

When I asked a young gallery owner on Canyon Road where residents go for great food at more reasonable prices, he suggested La Choza. Owned and run by the same team behind the beloved eatery The Shed, La Choza has an out-of-the-way location, and its decidedly no-frills dining room, which has a wood-burning fireplace, draws a more local crowd. The menu is the more-or-less-expected New Mexico rundown of tacos, enchiladas, burritos and green-chile stew, but everything is freshly prepared, and most dishes can be cooked for vegetarians.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

This local joint, near the Railyard District, is still said to have the best margaritas in town. It certainly has the longest list with more than 100 options. The Mexican food served in the dark-wood-paneled, somewhat dated dining room gets mixed reviews. It’s best for a cocktail before you head to one of the restaurants downtown.

Museum Hill Café

This is your only lunch option when exploring the fabulous art troves that make up Museum Hill, located southeast of downtown Santa Fe. Luckily, this restaurant, which has lovely alfresco seating and lofty views, does a great job with hearty dishes including steak tacos and daily soup, salad, quiche and sandwich specials. The menu also has lots of options for kids who balk at yet more spicy Southwestern fare.

Interiors at Pink Adobe, Santa Fe, American West

Pink Adobe

Boasting a menu that runs the gamut from shrimp remoulade and lobster salad to grilled salmon and chicken enchiladas, the Pink Adobe is as whimsical as its former owner, Rosalea Murphy, who established the so-called Pink in 1944. Now part of the Inn of the Five Graces, the Pink Adobe restaurant has an undeniably romantic setting, in a historic pink adobe house with low ceilings and walls covered in paintings (Rosalea was an artist, and many of her clients paid for meals with pieces of their work). The tables are very close to each other, which some find intimate, others merely claustrophobic and noisy. The adjacent bar, the Dragon Room, is among the most congenial in Santa Fe, offering a mix of locals and visitors sipping cocktails, including such signature margaritas as the Black Dragon (silver tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and a float of cassis). It’s a lively atmosphere and one of the few spots in town that isn’t deserted by 10 P.M.

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Food at Santacafé, anta Fe, American West


This American bistro is set in a 19th-century house with an outdoor patio and four separate dining rooms. It’s a great spot for lunch when sightseeing in the downtown area, as the menu features tasty, light fare.

Interiors at Tesuque Village Market, Santa Fe, American West

Tesuque Village Market

If you’re visiting Shidoni, the sculpture garden and foundry, this no-frills joint is a good spot for refueling; there’s a market and a restaurant-café serving New Mexico staples. While it’s truly a spot for locals, celebs including Robert Redford and Giada De Laurentiis have been spotted here. If you come for breakfast, go for the house-made blue-corn pancakes.

The Shed

One of downtown Santa Fe’s most popular eateries (it’s been in this location since 1960), The Shed occupies a hacienda that dates from the 17th century and has a small bar area and a cozy dining room – the latter decorated with colorful Southwestern-inspired art. The menu has all the classics you’d expect: thick green-chile chicken corn chowder, spicy carne adovada (pork slow-roasted in red chiles) and enchiladas, tacos and burritos with all the fixings. All dishes are served with The Shed’s famous French garlic bread. The bar specializes in signature margaritas (try the Red Shed, made with pomegranate juice), and is always a buzzing scene. The Shed is a great pick for a relaxed night out, but be sure to reserve; like Café Pasqual’s, it’s perennially popular with locals. And try La Choza, The Shed’s popular, no-frills sister restaurant.

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