The Shed is an institution in Santa Fe. It is located in a historic adobe building dating back to 1692 and is one of the places that hasn't succumbed to the general trend toward trendy and ulta-creative food. The food is just plain delicious and is among the best New Mexican food in the city.
The only negative about this meal was the 30 minute wait for my second margarita. I had ordered it when we were eating appetizers, but since it didn't arrive by the time we completely finished our main course, I wrote it off. Magically, it appeared just as we were given the bill. I told the server I didn't have time for the drink, and could she please take it off the bill? She said, "Sorry, we had to get the drink from next door." Next door to what? Chiapas, Mexico? Anyway, she did take it off the bill, but not before she whisked the drink away from me.
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is not a dish, but a drink -- the margaritas are the best in Santa Fe and only Coyote's can compete. Too damn bad I could only get one drink. The Shed serves outstanding enchiladas, tacos, and other dishes, all New Mexican style.
New Mexican cuisine is not the same as Mexican food. There is a difference. For instance, blue corn torillas are common. Instead of refried beans, you'll likely eat whole pinto beans, soaked and simmered for hours with smoked pork and onions. Instead of tortillas on the side, you'll have sopapillas. Instead of Spanish rice, dishes commonly come with posoles, hominy cooked with pork broth, chiles and lime. True New Mexican food is spicy - it hasn't been dumbed down yet to suit wimpy American tastebuds. Sadly, however, there is a trend toward this in some of the Santa Fe restaurants as they sacrifice authenticity for creation of a following by mobs of American tourists with hypersensitive palates. There is no question about it -- Santa Fe food was spicier 16 years ago.
The Shed is popular for both breakfast and lunch. If you arrive at the restaurant after noon, you will have to wait for a table. There are many tables, both inside and outside, so the line at lunch is a testament to its extreme popularity.
If you want down home authentic un-bastardized Southwestern cuisine, Guadalupe Cafe is the place for you. The cafe is extremely popular - be prepared for a significant wait at lunch, but it is worth it. You can order enchiladas, burritos, tacos, rellenos, all cooked traditional Southwestern style.
The menu warns you that the green and red chile sauces are hot. For you wimps out there - don't you dare ask for the sauce on the side. The chef refuses to do that - he says the dish is ruined if the enchiladas or burritos are not smothered by the sauce. (I like a chef who takes a firm stand!)
After all this fanfare, I expected sauces that would bring tears to my eyes. Not so. Now, admittedly, I have a high tolerance for heat. After all, I was raised by an El Paso mother who threw jalapenos into everything. Despite all the warnings, I considerd the sauces to be medium and completely tolerable, definitely not too hot.
Favorite Dish: The servers will tell you that the red sauce is hotter than the green sauce. Maybe so, but neither sauce was outrageously hot. Nor were they bland. They were very, very good, and very traditional New Mexican. My favorite dish was the cheese enchiladas, with both red and green sauces (called "Christmas enchiladas").
Meals are served with sopapillas, a type of bread that is unique to the Southwest. Sopapillas are made from flour, shortening, salt, baking soda and water and are deep fried, until they become puffy and light. Guadalupe's are terrific. Open then up and pour some honey into them. That is how they are meant to be enjoyed.
Guadalupe's does not serve margaritas, but they did serve the best damn sangria I've ever had.
It took us two tries to eat breakfast here. This is the most popular breakfast place in Santa Fe. And this is not a case of an old stand-by resting on its laurels. Cafe Pasqual's deserves its kudos and loyal following.
On the first day, we showed up 15 minutes after the doors opened, and there was a line out the door and a 45 minutes wait. The second day, we made sure we were right there when the cafe opened at 7am. We did get seated immediately on Day No. 2.
The cafe is very small, but Pasqual's serves the best damn breakfast on this side of the Rio Grande. All dishes have a Southwestern flair. The food is plentiful and filling. You can even browse through their cookbook while waiting for your order. That is a fun thing for me to do. I just love reading cookbooks. Seriously!
For those of you social butterfly types, ask to be seated at the communal table in the middle. Other diners will join you, and you can make a party of it.
Favorite Dish: So many items on the menu looked good. I was sorry we were leaving that day, so I couldn't go back for Attempt No. 3 at a table. Get a load of these menu items:
BREAKFAST QUESADILLAS - Two Griddled Whole-Wheat Tortillas Filled with Jack Cheese, Guacamole and Scrambled Eggs with Salsa Fresca With Apple-Smoked Bacon or Housemade Chorizo,
FRESH CHAR-GRILLED TROUT - Dusted in Cornmeal Served with Green Chile or Tomatillo Salsa and A Toss of Toasted Pine Nuts
TAMAL DULCE - Sweet Corn and Raisin Tamal Wrapped in Banana Leaves Served with Black Beans, Fresh Fruit and Mexican Hot Chocolate -- that's what I had and it was delish!
You'll want to come here more than once to try more of their fabulously creative and scrumptious breakfast dishes!
If we hadn't been in our friend Ralph's hands, a native New Mexican, we never would have found Tesuque Village Market. The outside structure is very plain, but inside you'll find a surprisingly comfy local dining spot (picture#3). Just ease past the skeletons (picture #2) and find a table (if you're lucky).
I ordered a braided sweet roll that was wonderfully moist and tasty. Janis ordered a cappuchino that was soooo smooth and full of flavor! The store sold bagels, pastry, rolls, breads, some canned, grocery and deli items.
Our waiter, Greg, thrilled our friends (who are divers) with his tips on great diving places around Mexico.
It seemed the market was sitting in the middle of nowhere along a quiet mountain road, but plenty of people found it and were enjoying a satisfying breakfast there. An outdoor dining area shielded by plastic sheeting and warmed by heaters might be a nice place to enjoy a meal when its not the season for snow . Hours are 7am-9pm summer; 7am-10pm winter.
Favorite Dish: Breads and pastries would be an excellent choice!
On my trip to Santa Fe in 2005, the Cantina at Coyote Cafe replaced La Casa Sena as my favorite eating place in Santa Fe. The Cantina is under the same ownership as Coyote Cafe, but is in a much more casual setting, and the food is less expensive than Coyote's. You enter through the Coyote front entrance and go up the stairs. Then, continue through the patio doors and up some more stairs to the rooftop terrace. The Cantina a very pleasant place to have a meal with a good view of the street below.
Favorite Dish: I had a delicious sizzling dish of queso fundido. I just love that melted cheese stuff, even if it is kind of hard to eat. I haven't eaten queso fundido this good since I moved away from Southern California 8 years ago. My son ordered steak tacos with homemade flour soft taco shells. My daughter ordered nachos, and out came th biggest plate of nachos I've ever seen - it was smothered with beans, seasoned chicken, guacamole, several kinds of cheese, sour cream and salsa.
The food was all delicious and everyone in my family agreed the Cantina was our new favorite Santa Fe restaurant. It is unusual for all four of us to agree upon a favorite restaurant, but we did here, so that's saying something.
You can also order Coyote's fabulous La Ultima margaritas here. And you can do that at all hours. Our waiter informed us that New Mexico finally completely did away with its Blue Laws. That is good news for those of you who might want a beer at 7:04 am on a Sunday morning. Myself? I'll stick to the margarita.
I'm lucky, because I have a lot of friends who love to travel and they come back and tell me all about their journeys. One such friend returned from Santa Fe raving about a new restaurant called Aqua Santa -- which sounds to me like it means Holy Water and if so, they aren't far off the mark. We were only going to be in town for luncheon, so it was really fortunate that the restaurant was open and could accommodate two weary travelers. But we perked up almost immediately when we entered the cool precincts and saw some fabulous black-and-white photographs of literary and artistic scions (some of whom, I'll admit, we recognized only as "That's somebody famous.") and things improved even more with some icy Prosecco to sip as we mulled over the menu.
We were both heading for New Orleans in another week, so it might have seemed odd to order fried oysters in New Mexico, but that's where we started. Oh! I have never tasted anything quite so delicious. Perfect, creamy, garnished with watercress. It was an effort not to lick the plate.
We ordered one of the salads and one of the specialty pasta dishes. Both of these were divine, as well, but as we enjoyed them we also got to talking to our waiter -- who was the owner, apparently. He was absolutely charming and added greatly to our enjoyment of the experience.
Lunch ended with some splendidly robust coffee and a dessert which was almost too much of a good thing. I was really sorry that we couldn't just stay on and sample the dinner menu!
Lunch W-F noon to 2:00 PM. Dinner T-Sat 5:30-9:00 PM. Reservations recommended.
Favorite Dish: Read the recent New York Times article on the place...it will make your mouth water.
The best margaritas in the world, bar none, are made in Santa Fe. What better place to search for the perfect margarita than Santa Fe? I found it, but it was quite an educational experience. I learned you are expected to know your tequila and ask for a certain kind by name. At the more respectable establishments, you can't just say "I want a margarita." They will say "What kind of tequila and what kind of orange liqueur?" And I had thought I was an expert because I knew enough to ask for a margarita on the rocks with salt. I had so much to learn!
I also learned NOT to ask for Jose Cuervo Gold if you want to have any credibility in Santa Fe. In addition to gold and silver tequila, there is also is platinum tequila. Real tequila can come from only a certain kind of agave plant primarily grown in Jalisco. There are other tequila-like liquors that come from agave but aren't "tequila". They are called mezcal and they can be a lot more expensive. I tried a margarita made with one of those tequila-like non-tequila platinum mezcals, and it was very good, but I preferred the real tequila. After I downed this margarita, I learned that mezcal is the stuff that has the worm. Oooh, yuck!. I drank a margarita made with that worm stuff. Bleggghhh!
Favorite Dish: The best margaritas in town are at Coyote Cafe, the Cantina (Coyote's sister cafe) and The Shed. At Coyote, order "La Ultima".
In my quest, I managed to come across a combination that rivals the Santa Fe margaritas, is not too outrageously expensive and possible to try at home.
1oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (Do NOT use margarita mix - that would be an atrocity)
2 oz. Silver Patron tequila (you can get this at Trader Joe's)
1 oz. Cointreau or Patron Orange Liqueur (Patron Orange is also found at Trader Joe's)
Shake with ice, and pour over the rocks into a salt-rimmed glass. Add a lime wedge for garnish.
The Inn of the Anasazi has an excellent restaurant called appropriately 'Anasazi'. A wonderfully light french toast topped with fruit and a sweet, flavorful syrup started my day beautifully, while a hearty pork tenderloin dinner at the end of our visit seemed to melt in my mouth! Highly acclaimed chef, Martin Rios, specializes in 'Southwest/Asian cuisine with a French influence'.
The Inn was located directly next to the Hotel Plaza Real, where we lodged. Our hotel did not have a dining area, so we found it extremely convenient to dine at the Anasazi. Especially one evening, when it had snowed all day and we did not want to drive anywhere on icy roads.
The restaurant was dimly lit by beautiful wrought iron sconces, the tables covered in sparkling white linen, the room cozied up by thick beamed ceilings and warm wood floors. The service was courteous and very attentive.
The Inn of the Anasazi is a four star hotel located a block or so from the central plaza.
After touring the 1813 sanctuary and grounds of Chimayo, we found our throats were parched and our stomachs were grumbling. Rancho de Chimayo appeared just in time!
Colorful ristras were dangling from the roof and a charming folk art angel welcomed us to this lovely country spot (picture #3).
Rancho de Chimayo is an old adobe home repurposed as a restaurant which is very popular in the summer, when it's difficult to get a table. However, this was winter so we walked right in.
We had read that it was an excellent special occasion place, so we knew it had to be something special. A friendly waiter led us to a sunny table by the window, but once he realized we were just ordering something to drink and a snack, he suggested a snug spot by the sherpherd style fireplace. It was a cozy nook indeed (see picture#2)!
This is where I sampled my first sopaipilla--a soft pillow of fried dough often used to soak up gravy or juices, but also tasty with honey drizzled over it or with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. It was absolutely fantastic! We also discovered the tangy sweetness of PRICKLY PEAR LEMONADE.
We highly recommend this restaurant! Rancho de Chimayo also includes a hacienda which is open to the public for lodging on another part of the property. If it has as much ambience as the restaurant, it should be a fine place to stay.
Hours areTue.-Sun 11:30am-9pm from Nov. to April; 11:30 pm-9:30 pm May-Oct.
Favorite Dish: Sopiapillas--flaky and delicious;' prickly pear lemonade--so good
We stopped by here every day we were in Santa Fe. Where do I start? This bakery had an unbelievable selection of cakes, breakfast pastries, cookies, pies, eclairs, muffins, croissants, ice cream. Plaza Bakery also serves salads, sandwiches, quiche, spanokopita, wraps, quesadillas, green chile stew, soups, pizza, all in this teeny, tiny location.,
Favorite Dish: I liked the selection of Mexican music played in the bakery - it gave it a festive air.
After visiting the picturesque little chapel at Chimayo, we spied the Eating House along the highway. It was an upscale, Mexican style restaurant which had replaced a former eatery.
As I was determined to try a green chile hamburger, I looked no further on the menu when seeing that offered as a lunch item. It was covered with melted asadero cheese and accompanied by perfectly crispy apple wood bacon and house fries. Needless to say, I enjoyed my green chile burger immensely, although it cost $12.00--which was a bit high!
The executive chef, Enrique Guerrero, also oversees The Galisteo Inn's (1703) restaurant in Galisteo, New Mexico. He was quite willing to have his picture taken with my husband--we teased that they were cousins. Of course, it made no difference in our bill. Boo-hoo! Guerrero was trained at the California Culinary Institute and is known for his 'Nuevo Hacienda' style cuisine.
Favorite Dish: Green Chile Burger
After hearing so much about The Pink Adobe from our friends, it became a #1 choice for dining upon arriving in Santa Fe.
The Pink Adobe is a favorite of locals and world travelers alike. It was voted 'Most Favorite Restaurant in 2004' and sits across the street from what is said to be the oldest church in the U.S., San Miguel Mission.
Rosalea Murphy opened the restaurant in 1944 and it came to be a meeting place for celebrities and those involved in local politics. A portion of the restaurant was constructed in the 1600's--the warm, rosey color of the adobe brick inspired its name.
I found the small stuccoed dining rooms and warm fireplaces so inviting! My husband and I ordered the Tournedos Bordelaise--a tender filet of beef on a puff pastry served with Bordelaise sauce and a browned potato. Although my husband's beef filet was a bit chewy, mine was delectable!
The Dragon Room Bar was added in 1977 and Cafe Pink in 2003. Rosaleas family continues to own and manage the establishment. The Pink Adobe Cookbook has been compiled to represent Rosalea's most popular recipes.
Favorite Dish: A wonderful dining experience--try anything
Of all the restaurants we visited in Santa Fe, the Shed was probably our favourite – no, was definitely our favourite! We came here twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, and enjoyed both meals a lot. We also loved the setting and ambience. The restaurant is located in an old hacienda (dating back to 1692) and spread over nine rooms, as well as a small courtyard at the front. The décor is bright and cheerful, with lots of interesting paintings and other traditional crafts. When we were here for lunch a lady stopped by our table to look more closely at the painting behind it and we got talking. She explained that she was from Guatemala (where we had been just last year) and recognised the style of the painting as Guatemalan, so was trying to make out the artist’s signature – sadly neither she nor we could do so.
The Shed is deservedly popular and therefore very busy. They don’t appear to take reservations for lunch and when we arrived we were told there would be a 15 minute wait. We were given a sort of pager and took a seat in the courtyard to wait but in fact were called to a table inside in about 10 minutes (we would have waited longer if we’d wanted an outside one I think). On leaving we asked about reservations for dinner on the Friday, two days ahead, and could only get a table at 8.30 pm (or 5.30pm, but that’s too early for us). We accepted it and on the day arrived a little early, and in fact got seated by 8.20 or so. On this occasion too we were inside, but in one of the smaller rooms off the main one, which was very cosy with only a few tables and less noisy than the larger space where we’d had lunch.
Favorite Dish: So, on to the food. On our first, lunch-time visit, we were looking for something light, and found plenty of choices. I had the gazpacho which was refreshing and tasty, and Chris chose a “small” salad (that is, smaller than the “big” version of the same!) of chicken, blue cheese, walnuts and salad leaves. With an orange juice for Chris, sparkling water for me, and two coffees we paid $27.
Returning for dinner two days later, and with rather bigger appetites, we were keen to try the New Mexican dishes for which they have such a good name. So we shared some chips and salsa to start with, which Chris followed with the “layered enchiladas” – two blue corn tortillas layered with cheddar cheese, onion, covered with red chilli & baked – a sort of New Mexican lasagne! I had the taco plate, made with two soft blue corn tortillas filled with cheddar cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce and a choice of meats – I opted for chicken (I could also have had ground beef) and green chilli (I could naturally also have had red). These were served with pinto beans and rice. Both meals were excellent, but mine especially so – one of the best I had on the whole trip! To drink I had a “Shed Red”, a margarita with pomegranate juice, which was very good, without reaching the dizzy heights of my green chilli version of the previous evening. Chris had a beer, we shared a cheesecake for dessert, and paid a really reasonable $45 (with tax but not including service)
We had opted not to take breakfast at the B&B owned by the same people as our Casita, and we also didn’t want to self-cater, despite having a very serviceable kitchen. Instead we preferred to sample a variety of breakfast places in the vicinity of our little home. The first we tried was one that came highly recommended in our Moon Handbook. Café Pasquale is very popular, so we were lucky to be able to get a good table without a wait – we observed that others who weren’t so lucky were quite happy to wait some time, such is the reputation of the place. It seemed to be popular not only with tourists but also locals – girl-friends meeting for breakfast, and a couple of local businessmen. I loved the colourful décor, with bright murals and Mexican tiles, and our table on a raised area at one end of the small room gave us a great view of this and of all the activity.
Favorite Dish: The breakfast menu is quite extensive, as befits somewhere famous for its breakfasts. I decided to try something different, the “Three House-made Blintzes, Golden from the Skillet, Topped with Strawberry Jam and Sour Cream”. These were good but very filling, with a bit too much cream for that time of day (regular cream, which I left to one side, as well as the sour cream promised by the menu). Chris chose what he expected to be a healthy option, the “housemade” nutty granola, with yoghurt and berries, but the portion was so huge that it probably wasn’t that healthy after all! He also had a cappuccino and I had a double espresso, really appreciating the availability of strong coffee to kick-start my day.
All this didn’t come cheap however. The cappuccino alone was $5 which is more than we pay in pricey London, and our total bill (with two grapefruit juices as well) was $50 – more than we had paid for the previous night’s dinner! So although we liked the breakfast, and loved the atmosphere, we went elsewhere on the subsequent mornings.
It's not often or EVER I see bread baked in the shapes of alligators, turtles or frogs, but at the French Pastry Shop it happens every day (picture #2)!
Delicious pastry, desserts, crepes and sandwiches can be sampled at the French Pastry Shop. It's a cozy little restaurant/bakery, accessible off E.San Francisco Street or from the lobby of the historic La Fonda Inn.
We tasted an especially creamy Montmartre (picture#3)for dessert one evening--luscious! and a raspberry crepe early one morning--disappointingly dry. The service was fine, the wait staff friendly and the atmosphere warm and inviting. Hours are until 5pm.
Favorite Dish: Pastry