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Santa Fe Dining

The Serious Business of Breakfast
Santa Fe Dining
Santa Fe is a destination for foodies, a place where high-profile chefs prepare seasonal menus and local mainstays serve classic regional cuisine with ingredients and influences from Mexico, Latin America, and the Mediterranean.
By Kate Donnelly, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Jen Judge
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    The Serious Business of Breakfast
    The Serious Business of Breakfast
    Breakfast is taken seriously in Santa Fe. Come morning, you will find huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and burritos along with the standard eggs and home fries. Wake up early to beat the crowds to the top venues. Café Pasqual's—one of the town's most beloved breakfast spots—is a downtown corner mainstay perfect for huevos rancheros and organic coffee, while the popular, no-frills Tia Sophia's offers a choice of red or green sauce with your breakfast burrito; make sure to investigate the specials. The kimchi scrambled eggs at Bodega Prime have inspired many fans, and Modern General makes an energy-packed acai bowl to fire up your morning.
    Photo by Jen Judge
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    Food Trucks
    Food Trucks
    The food truck and portable dining movement is alive in Santa Fe, but unlike most food trucks in the country, these mobile eateries often stay parked in the same spot. Meow Wolf's Trinity Kitchen lets you sample Southern treats like po'boys and sausage gumbo. El Chile Toreado, on Cordova Road, is always busy and has an amazing variety of tacos. At the corner of the plaza, Roque’s Carnitas doles out carnitas with charcoal-cooked and marinated beef. You can't miss the bright orange truck of Bang Bite in the parking lot at Luna Center, at Cerrillos and Manhattan, forking out hearty chicken sandwiches and hamburgers. From a colorful truck parked outside its brick-and-mortar sister restaurant, State Capital Kitchen, GnarChow ladles out pho and grills Wagyu beef burgers.
    Photo courtesy of Mow Wolf
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    Up-and-Comers
    Up-and-Comers
    While Santa Fe leans on its venerable mainstays, a crop of edgy newcomers is causing a culinary stir. Downtown, chef John Sedlar's modern Eloisa pays homage to his grandmother's New Mexican food with earthy sopes and guacamole tacos with flower-petal tortillas. Just off Cerrillos Road, Modern General doles out healthy bites and smoothies while Bodega Prime focuses on hearty American fare using local ingredients. For fine dining, State Capital Kitchen serves its shareable bits from a dim sum cart.
    Photo by Jen Judge
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    Classic Santa Fe Cuisine
    Classic Santa Fe Cuisine
    The warm, intimate storefront of La Boca serves tapas and small plates. Don’t miss the blistered green chilies in olive oil, sea salt, and garlic, best enjoyed with a glass of white wine. Chef John Sedlar returned home to Santa Fe to open Eloisa, where he serves dishes inspired by the food his grandmother used to cook, including tamales and posole. At the Shed, tables are always in demand—as is the green chili stew. Don't miss the margaritas. And while Café Pasqual’s falls into various culinary categories, it's most famous for its communal tables, Mexican folk art, and coffee.
    Photo courtesy of Elolisa
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    Charming Outdoor Cafés
    Charming Outdoor Cafés
    If relaxing is on your agenda, there are plenty of charming outdoor spots in Santa Fe. Inside the St. Francis Hotel, grab a seat in the small courtyard at Tabla de Los Santos. The menu offers plenty of down-home New Mexican choices. Lunch in the popular Santacafé courtyard comes with stellar people-watching. Slip into La Casa Sena’s tranquil courtyard for a mushroom tamale and a glass of white wine. Coyote Cafe's casual rooftop Cantina is the perfect seasonal venue for a Lava Lamp—half draft beer and half margarita. Find a spot on the patio at Harry’s Roadhouse to enjoy grilled-salmon tacos; there's also  a gluten-free menu. Recently, El Farol, a Canyon Road favorite, swapped owners but it has maintained its arty integrity and lovely patio. The terrace at the Dragon Room, strung with fairy lights, can transform an evening's margarita into a romantic event.
    Photo courtesy of Hotel St. Francis
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    Inventive Fine Dining
    Inventive Fine Dining
    Santa Fe has an inventive fine-dining scene that continues to evolve. The venerable Geronimo is a handsome neutral space with adobe walls, soft lighting, and kiva fireplaces. Try the elk tenderloin with applewood-smoked bacon, or the green miso sea bass—both are lovely. The Compound, down the street, has an outdoor patio that's unbeatable in beautiful weather. Try the grilled rack of lamb, buttermilk roasted chicken, and hamburger with avocado. Terra, at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, offers New Mexican cuisine steeped in rich Southwest traditions; it's a good option before heading to the opera. A popular choice is the celebrated Coyote Cafe on the plaza, which serves French- and Asian-inspired food.
    Photo courtesy of Kitty Leaken/The Compound Restaurant
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    International Cuisines
    International Cuisines
    In a city known for its spicy Southwestern flavors, international restaurants are a welcome surprise, and often put a local twist on traditional cuisine. The menu at the Compound Restaurant considers Southwestern cuisine through a Mediterranean lens. On Canyon Road, Milad Persian Bistro serves up Middle Eastern food both familiar (kebabs, hummus, and basmati rice) and less so, like kashk-e-bademjan, an eggplant dish. For a French-accented meal, grab a takeout croque madame or salade niçoise at Clafoutis, or snag a seat outside the charming Chez Mamou, a perfect spot to enjoy the delicious quiche.
    Photo courtesy of Milad Persian Bistro
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    Craft Beers
    Craft Beers
    There’s a diverse array of established microbreweries and small brewpubs in Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Brewing Co. is the oldest and most recognizable of the craft brew labels, with its distinct yellow can of Happy Camper IPA. Prefer lighter tastes? You will enjoy the Santa Fe Hefeweizen and crisp, drinkable Freestyle Pilsner. Those who enjoy a full-bodied brew will gravitate toward the Santa Fe Nut Brown and the Black IPA, all Santa Fe Brewing Co. varieties. Other local favorite beer sources include Blue Corn Café & Brewery and the Second Street Brewery. (It should be mentioned that a green-chile burger washes down very nicely with any of these beverages.)
    Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Brewing Company
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    Red and Green Chilies
    Red and Green Chilies
    In Santa Fe, chilies are everywhere. Your choice—red or green—will accompany chile rellenos, tamales, stuffed sopaipillas, and huevos rancheros. (If you want to sample both, ordering “Christmas” will result in a half-and-half dish.) Most Santa Fe green chile sauces are made of chopped Hatch peppers, creating a spicy, punchy salsa. Red chile sauce is made from ripened, dried peppers and results in a sweeter and smokier profile. Red ristras (strands of hanging chilies) are strung from adobe homes as a sign of hospitality. If you don’t like too much heat, add a dollop of sour cream or honey to your plate.
    Photo by Kate Donnelly
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    Santa Fe School of Cooking
    Santa Fe School of Cooking
    The best way to sample any cuisine is to roll up your sleeves and prepare a local recipe yourself. Steps away from the historic plaza, the Santa Fe School of Cooking hosts a roster of well-known and savvy chefs who demonstrate their techniques and share insights into their food. The tamale-making class is a crowd-pleaser, and locavore enthusiasts will appreciate using New Mexico–made products and Southwestern ingredients like chilies, jams, herbs, and spices. Outside of the kitchen, the school’s restaurant tours offer private tastings and a chef meet-and-greet.
    Photo courtesy of Santa Fe School of Cooking