For such a diminutive population of 69,000, Santa Fe has a shocking number of great restaurants. At last count, Tripadvisor rated 464 restaurants, which means that you can dine out for a year, without exhausting the options, on everything from pulled pork tacos ordered from a food truck to a five-course meal for two on Canyon Road that will cost upwards of $500. And given the artistic, fickle temperament of the chefs in town, you never know where they might show up next: One restaurateur tired of his French fine-dining cuisine and opened an all-American organic burger stand. Another, an established chef in Taos for 16 years, closed up shop and took only his famous duck-fat fries with him. A few restaurants later, he finally landed at an intimate adobe in Santa Fe where he now serves the best lamb, feta, and green chile burger in town accompanied by frites perfected over 20 years.
I fell in love with this Japanese gastro-pub before any food passed my lips. With beautiful carved wooden beams, Japanese lanterns, private tatami rooms, the flights of artisanal sake with names like “forest spirit” and “fragrant jewel” and small plates of locally sourced meat and produce—which is 95 percent organic—are almost secondary to the ambience.
A tribute to the world-famous artist whose name is almost synonymous with New Mexico, Georgia opened earlier this summer in a century-old brick building to rave reviews, thanks to its affordable and extensive wine list, cozy outdoor patio seating, and sophisticated contemporary American comfort menu that doesn’t have a speck of green chile on it.
Joseph’s of Santa Fe
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying bar menu in town. I haven’t strayed far from the New Mexico lamb, feta, and green chile burger accompanied by duck-fat frites and Planet Oregon Pinot Noir, but the pumpkin, kale, corn, and porcini enchilada sounds equally tempting.
There are two reasons to drive all the way to this restaurant nestled in the rolling hills of the luxurious Camino la Tierra neighborhood. First, Chef Mark Connell studied classical Italian cooking in Costiglio di Asti, Italy, followed by stints at French Laundry. Second, the 600-bottle fine wine shop adjoins the restaurant so if you find a favorite, you can buy a few bottles to take home.