Considering the recent culinary additions to the Santa Fe restaurant scene, these are the establishments that stand out.
228 E. Palace Avenue, Santa Fe
Judging by Eloisa, hotel restaurants in Santa Fe have graduated to the major leagues. The rustic, modern space and open kitchen has the type of slick atmosphere you might expect to find in Los Angeles’s hipster neighborhoods, rather than inside a Drury Hotel. The heavily New Mexican offerings consist of both large and small plates, but opt for the small plates to acquire a better overview of the menu. Start with the ensalada sandia, which features shrimp perched atop watermelon, drizzled with mojito vinaigrette — a perfect combination of refreshing flavors and playful plating. Although tacos are available in virtually every Santa Fe restaurant, you’re unlikely to find blue corn tortillas stuffed with pastrami and sauerkraut elsewhere. And, as for the croque jamon, it’s essentially a reimagined croque monsieur using serrano ham and with manchego cheese in place of the more traditional gruyère. Accompany your meal with the Eloisa cocktail, which marries cava with slowly macerated apricot liqueur.
163 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe
It’s always exciting when a new restaurant opens, but Café Roha not only brings another dining option to town, it also ushers in a whole new cuisine. Tucked inside a mall, Santa Fe’s first Ethiopian restaurant is primarily a lunch joint. If you’re accustomed to New Mexican spice levels, you should find the beef sega wot manageable, but less toughened palates might do better with dishes such as kik alicha, a yellow lentil stew that relies on turmeric, ginger, and garlic to pack in plenty of flavor, minus the kick. Meals are accompanied by gomen, a side dish that transforms kale into a delight rather than a chore — seriously, how often have you stolen kale off your dining companion’s plate? — and a cooling aybe that even those averse to cottage cheese will savor.
221 Shelby Street, Santa Fe
The building that now houses Sazón has gone through many incarnations; two other restaurants have claimed the space over the course of the last six years. Hopefully, Sazón, a welcome addition to Santa Fe’s fine dining scene, will endure. Chef Fernando Olea certainly has the passion to prevail and is a true master of mole. For an amuse bouche, he sends mini corn tortillas with a trio of dipping moles. Servers lovingly describe the elements of each sauce and, in fact, every dish. If you’re into food porn, this is the place for you. On the entrée menu, the cholula is a real standout, blanketing ground pork, beef, and lamb in the skin of a poblano pepper. For a dessert that trespasses beyond the norm, order the sweet symphony, an avocado ice cream studded with piñon nuts and topped with vibrant beet foam and a spicy ginger sauce.