5 Bites of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Where to eat and drink in 'The City Different'


Just as Santa Fe’s full name is a mouthful — La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís (The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi) — so too is its culinary scene. More than 400 years old, Santa Fe is the source for many types of cuisine, but its indigenous foods are the best way to acquaint diners to the city.

Breakfast: For almost 40 years, the Maryol Family has been serving traditional New Mexican breakfasts and lunches like your abuela would make at Tia Sophia’s, including the breakfast burrito. Not to be confused with its many fast-food imitations, the breakfast burrito at this diner is served in a variety of combinations that include shredded potatoes, scrambled eggs, and ham, sausage, or bacon wrapped in a tortilla and topped with red or green chile or both, which locals call "Christmas."

Lunch: One of the hallmark restaurants for northern New Mexican cuisine is The Shed, located about 100 yards from the Indian street market at the Palace of the Governors. The Shed has been crafting Santa Fe cuisine for almost 60 years in a hacienda built in 1692. The menu includes the local version of enchilada served with blue corn tortillas and doused with a signature sauce made from red chiles from Hatch, N.M., the self-proclaimed Chile capital of the world, and topped with a fried egg. Atypical for Santa Fe, all entrées are served with garlic bread.

Drink: Strolling the galleries, museums, and historic adobes of Santa Fe can be tiring. For a different kind of afternoon pick-me-up try Kakawa, just down the hill from the Canyon Road Galleries. Kakawa specializes in pre-Colombian and colonial chocolate concoctions; among them Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe for hot chocolate, which includes sugar, nutmeg, and Mexican vanilla served in traditionally styled espresso-sized cups. "Jefferson loved this and thought that Americans would be a nation of hot chocolate drinkers rather than tea or coffee," said owner Thomas Bennett.

Dinner: In an unassuming traditional house just a block from the state capital buildings at 526 Galisteo Street is Restaurant Martín. But beyond its beige clay walls is a gorgeous patio and herb and root garden (source of many of the restaurant’s ingredients and the scene of many special events including Jada Pinkett Smith’s 40th birthday party). Local chef Martín Rios, who has appeared on Iron Chef America, serves progressive American cuisine with northern New Mexican ingredients. Among his creations are an orzo mac and cheese made with truffle oil, a vegetarian tasting plate with cauliflower-quinoa stew, ricotta-yam strudel, and Maple Leaf Farm duck breast served with a pepper-cinnamon sauce and sweet potato-pine nut purée.

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Late-Night Snack: After 9 p.m., almost all of Santa Fe’s restaurants, as well as the rest of the city, shuts down. So where do the chefs and restaurant workers go to chill after creating all that good food? One key hangout is The Del Charro Saloon in the Inn of the Governors Hotel, across the dry Santa Fe riverbed on West Alameda Street. Grab a seat at the bar or in front of the Pueblo-style fireplace where you can rub elbows with many of the top chefs in town, locals of all stripes, or other travelers. "I love my own burgers," said chef Carmen Rodriguez of La Posada de Santa Fe Restaurant, "but they serve a great green chile cheeseburger for a good price."