DINING OUT Don't miss the grilled Maine lobster tails with an organic corn-and-caper compote and chile-garlic sauce at Geronimo (724 Canyon Rd.; 505/982-1500; dinner for two $110), housed in a courtly 1750's adobe house. The new owners of the recently reopened Compound Restaurant (653 Canyon Rd.; 505/982-4353; dinner for two $120) didn't change its whitewashed interior but did revolutionize the menu, adding stunning dishes such as slow-baked salmon with soft pumpkin polenta and a golden chanterelle bordelaise sauce.
Naysayers scoffed when yet another high-end purveyor of Nuevo New Mexico cooking debuted last summer, but the Canyon (731 Canyon Rd.; 505/984-3270; dinner for two $85) quickly proved them wrong with knockout dishes such as tangerine-glazed sea scallops over a smoky hash of parsnip purée and bacon.
Whether for a hearty weekend breakfast of blue-cornmeal waffles with honey butter and bananas, or an evening supper of thin-crust pizza or Moroccan vegetable stew, head to the homey Harry's Roadhouse (Old Las Vegas Hwy., one mile south of Old Pecos Trail and I-25; 505/989-4629; dinner for two $40).
The demure Kasasoba (544 Agua Fria St.; 505/984-1969; dinner for two $50), a noodle house with an entertaining collection of Japanese monster-movie posters, has soba- noodle bowls with tender sliced and grilled duck breast in a savory broth of roasted leeks and sesame seeds, plus traditional tempuras and rice dishes.
THE REAL DEAL: NEW MEXICAN CUISINE Debating the virtues of green-chile stew and stuffed sopaipillas counts as a serious sport in Santa Fe. New Mexico has its own cuisine, and although it shares ingredients with Tex-Mex and Mexican cooking, its loyalists will chide anybody who lumps them together. To find authentic New Mexican, venture away from the tourist haunts near the Plaza and make for La Choza (905 Alarid St.; 505/982-0909; dinner for two $30), which abuts the railroad tracks southwest of downtown and turns out sublime burritos with carne adovada (pork or chicken marinated in red chile, garlic, and oregano) and a strangely alluring green-chile clam chowder. Bobcat Bite (420 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 41/2 miles south of Old Pecos Trail and I-25; 505/983-5319; dinner for two $20) opened inside a ramshackle trading post in 1954 and has been serving Santa Fe County's tastiest green-chile cheeseburgers ever since. The parking lot is full of both rusty pickup trucks and shiny new Mercedes-Benzes.
ON THE TOWN Easygoing Santa Fe is an early-to-bed place, but night-crawlers can find a few exciting diversions, such as Paramount/Bar B (331 Sandoval St.; 505/982-8999), a dance club with a bordello-red lounge in the back.
A labyrinth of sleek salons, Swig (135 W. Palace Ave., third floor; 505/955-0400) dazzles barflies with its mod aesthetic, elaborate sugar-rimmed cocktails, and decadent Pan-Asian tapas.
Look to the historic Spanish restaurant El Farol (808 Canyon Rd.; 505/983-9912) for rockabilly, jazz, or flamenco, depending on the night. It's the oldest restaurant in town, dating to the 1830's.