With a list of staples including green chiles, enchiladas and margaritas, there was no way I was not going to love the Santa Fe dining scene. But what I didn’t necessarily expect to find on my first trip were so many other artful dishes and world cuisines around the city. Whether you’re in the mood for Slovak baked goods, Japanese tacos or Indian dosa, Santa Fe has you covered—and of course, if you just want to get at the New Mexican classics, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that, too. In my opinion, Santa Fe’s collection of bars and restaurants is one of the best in the the U.S., and below I’m sharing a peek at my favorites.
THE BEST SANTA FE BARS AND RESTAURANTS
Chaine Gourmet Cookie Shop – This pretty little cookie shop (which specializes in beautiful French macarons!) opened up downtown between the first and second times I visited, and it’s a great addition to the neighborhood. It has a great selection of coffee drinks (I had a great Mexican mocha) and the decor is perfectly on-point.
Iconik Coffee – Iconik roasts its own beans and has multiple locations around the city. I’ve visited two so far, and both were extremely low-key. One is attached to bookstore Collected Works, so you can easily sip a coffee as you browse the shop or bring your new book to the cafe for a reading session.
Dolina Cafe & Bakery – When I heard about a Slovak bakery, I was immediately intrigued (I used to live in the Czech Republic, so I’m very familiar with—and love—a lot of Slovak specialties)! Dolina met and far exceeded my expectations. It’s not only a great place for baked goods, but an all-around awesome pick for breakfast, brunch or lunch. And while it does serve Slovak classics (langos, goulash, etc.), it has plenty of options you may be more familiar with, too, including those more local to New Mexico. The flourless chocolate espresso cake was unbelievable!
Modern General – Part general store, part healthy eatery, Modern General serves up lots of morning options, but I particularly love its pancakes. You can choose your type of pancake (there are gluten-free options) and then pick from a range of choices in the savory and sweet categories. I love the lemoncakes (hellooo labneh buttercream).
Cafe Pasqual’s – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—this might be my favorite restaurant in the world. While it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s the lunch menu I love, what with its blue-corn enchiladas (featuring a sauce of New Mexican chiles, of course) and side of gruyère potato cake. It certainly also doesn’t hurt that ingredients are organic and fresh. Expect to wait, but it’ll be so, so worth it.
The Teahouse – This is the perfect spot to break during your exploration of Canyon Road, the heart of Santa Fe’s gallery scene. It sits pretty far down the street, so you can stop and have lunch at your halfway point before turning around and heading down the way you came. I loved the artichoke salad I had there (and the chance to sit on the patio and enjoy the sun), and its list of teas and tea drinks is nearly endless.
Izanami (at Ten Thousand Waves) – I actually dined at Izanami for dinner, but I’m including it in the lunch section for one important reason: That’s the only time they serve Japanese hot pot, something I’ve never had but am super eager to try! Even if you go for dinner, though, you’ll have tons of fantastic options—all four or five small dishes I tried at Izanami were outstanding. This is a must-do, even if you’re not planning to hit the hot tubs or spa at Ten Thousand Waves!
Radish & Rye – “Locally sourced” is the name of the game at Radish & Rye. Dishes are fresh and the kitchen plates them beautifully, and while it’s definitely a sit-down restaurant, it’s one with a low-key vibe (think Johnny Cash live in concert playing on the speakers). We came for Valentine’s Day dinner and loved it.
Geronimo – If you’re looking for a white-tablecloth affair with stellar food and the friendliest staff imaginable, head to Geronimo—just make sure you’ve booked far in advance. While it’s definitely fine dining, it’s far from a stuffy place, and servers there really care about the customer experience. And while its flavors are global, it exudes Santa Fe charm; it’s set in an old adobe house built in 1756.
El Farol – Considered Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant (dating back to 1835!), El Farol these days fields a menu of Spanish tapas and other classic dishes, including paella and steaks. The wall murals, live music and signature margaritas all lend themselves to a fun, traditional experience on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road.
Kakawa Chocolate House – Kakawa sells a variety of incredible chocolates and truffles, but in my opinion, the real highlight here are the elixirs (read: melted chocolate in a cup, prepared with the additional spices/flavors of your choice and optionally topped with whipped cream). You’ll also get a history lesson in the styles of drinking chocolate from pre-Colombian America, Old-World Europe and beyond.
Drift + Porter (at the Railyard Artisan Market) – Find this stand in the Railyard Artisan Market (located inside the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market every Sunday) for small-batch pastries that are both gluten-free AND vegan (I promise you, you’d never be able to tell). They also serve savory items, including pizzas.
Chaine Gourmet Cookie Shop and Dolina Cafe & Bakery, both mentioned above, deserve a shout out in this section, too!
Secreto Lounge – The cocktails at Secreto Lounge are definitely different—and some of them may even be a little too different for some palates. But give this bar off the lobby of the Hotel St. Francis a try if you’re up for a “garden-to-glass” concoction that puts fruits, vegetables and herbs to work in unexpected ways. Grab an order of the truffle frites, too, while you’re at it.
Bar Alto – The ambience is really what makes Bar Alto a destination. Perched on the roof of the Drury Plaza Hotel, it has great views overlooking the city and surrounding mountains. Don’t worry if the weather’s not great; it’s got fire pits outside to keep you warm during the colder months.
Cheesemongers of Santa Fe – What’s better than artisanal cheese shop? An artisanal cheese shop that also sells lots of local provisions, including jams, sauces, ice cream, kombucha and so much more. This store really made me wish we had time for a picnic.
Chocolate + Cashmere – As its name suggests, this shop sells both chocolate and cashmere, but I was definitely in it for the chocolate. Both bars I purchased here were incredible and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before (and I try a lot of chocolate). Find the entrance in an art-filled passageway that may or may not still be home to a giant wooden bear by the time you read this!
ArtfulTea – This store is a tea lover’s dream! No matter what kind of tea you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Artful Tea, complete with oh-so-pretty packaging (seriously—they sell more than 90 types of loose-leaf!). The shop also sells all kind of tea accessories, from teapots to strainers and beyond.
STILL ON MY LIST
Paloma – Just because you’re in New Mexico doesn’t mean you need to pass on Mexican food! This hip (I see you, exposed brick) spot for modern Mexican also features a mezcal-focused bar.
Paper Dosa – I am a low-key dosa fanatic, so there is no way I’m going to forego the opportunity to check out this South Indian restaurant on my next trip to Santa Fe.
Palacio Cafe – Multiple locals recommended this place to me, particularly for breakfast, and it’s not hard to see why. Its menu is full of classic New Mexican fare including breakfast tacos, hash browns, and, of course, chiles.
Sky Coffee – I popped into this coffee shop in Santa Fe’s Railyard District to look around, but I was already too full to get anything. Next time!
La Lecheria – I kind of can’t believe I haven’t tried this craft ice cream yet. On the one hand, I’ve only been to Santa Fe in the winter, but on the other, that’s never stopped me before…
Back Road Pizza – This pizza spot was recommended to me by a reader whose cousin owns it! Unfortunately, I got her message just a little too late to try on my last trip, but with gluten-free crust and green chiles as a topping option, I’m definitely interested.
Before you start your SF restaurant spree, let’s talk about how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to earning points and miles on dining purchases. I personally use the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants, while Jake uses the American Express Gold Card to earn 4 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar.
Another, even better option? The Citi Prestige, which will earn you a whopping 5 ThankYou points per dollar—as long as you can stomach the $495 annual fee. (Yes, the Sapphire Reserve’s is higher, but I prefer its other benefits to the Prestige’s, so that’s what I go with!).
If you’re into cash back, consider the Capital One Savor, which nets 4% on dining purchases.
Hope you enjoyed this guide to the best Santa Fe bars and restaurants! Do you have any favorites I missed? Leave them below in the comments! >>
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