In downtown Santa Fe, a host of award-winning chefs offer up enticing twists on fiery Southwestern cuisine. One of them, Matt Yohalem, a NYC native who’s cooked all over the world, is gearing up for the 20th anniversary of his iconic Italian farm-to-table spot, Il Piatto, which Esquire named “best new restaurant” when it opened back in 1996. Here, he offers up his favorite spots to eat around town.
"Cafe Pasqual’s is contemporary New Mexican cuisine, with a focus on freshness (all the produce comes from organic farms). The chef uses ingredients like banana leaves and tomatillos, plus tons of fresh herbs; they even make their own blue corn batter for tortillas."
"Izanami has the most amazing view: it’s halfway up the ski mountain, behind a Japanese spa (Ten Thousand Waves). The chef, David Padberg, is from Portland, and he does Japanese izakaya, with an extensive sake list. They’re open throughout the day in conjunction with the spa, so you can eat in your robe."
"The Compound’s Mark Kiffin won the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef in the Southwest” in 2005, though the restaurant’s reputation goes back to the 1940s. It sits right at the top of Canyon Road, and is the definition of a classic, high-end restaurant, with a nice wine list to boot. The staff is all well-trained, they treat you right up there."
"I’m generally not a dessert guy. I know they’re making a lot of interesting Mexican chocolates around town, though my favorite is Ecco Gelato down the street from Il Piatto. I once worked with Jacques Torres, and there’s nothing like a bowl of really good chocolate ice cream for dessert."
"The Anasazi Bar has just been redone into a large, Southwest contemporary-style lounge. I’m a tequila guy myself, and they have a great selection. My favorite is Herradura Silver on the rocks. Every now and then I’ll get mezcal, but I usually wait until I get home to drink that, because you never know where it could lead."