Here are interesting sounding restaurant picks from John Maloney. John has provided food reviews and picks in the past, most note worthy is his three part series on San Francisco restaurants, his home town. Between meals John runs KM Cluster and Colabria, among other things. I have enjoyed a number of meals with John and certainly trust his judgment on food. I went to Santa Fe a number of years ago and enjoyed the opera, mountain climbing, and some good food. This was before my blog so I did not write anything down. I appreciate this guide for when I go back. Let me know of any additions. These review are in John’s words. I simply added the links and contact information.
Tomasita's -- Located in an older building near the historic train station, this chile temple is the most appropriate venue to start a gastronomic tour of Santa Fe. The menu is extensive, and the daily specials are particularly good. You will be stopping in their seductive bar for a margarita, since they don't take reservations, and there is always a line. A gregarious bar pal we met ordered verbatim a "Wednesday Christmas." Wednesday is simmered pork and a day's special, available, well, every day of the week. "Christmas" is the Santa Fe local codeword for dishes smothered in red and green chile. This place alone is worth a trip to the New Mexican high desert. It is located on 500 S Guadalupe St., (505) 983-5721.
Cafe Pasqual's -- This legendary cafe, located just off The Plaza, is the most popular place for locals in Santa Fe. A perennial winner of the prestigious James Beard Award, Pasqual's is Santa Fe's treatment of a relaxed, friendly cafe serving the best, 100% local, 100% organic fare in New Mexico and probably the USA. Don't event think of a reservation and be prepared to wait on the sidewalk for 45 minutes or more. It is absolutely worth it for the best breakfasts, lunch and dinner available. The menu is mostly traditional, but brought to extraordinary heights by the organics, culinary craftsmanship and original touches on the classics. It is guaranteed, if God had a restaurant here on earth, it would probably be Cafe Pasqual's. It is located at 121 Don Gaspar, (505) 983-9340 or 1-800-722-7672
Maria's -- Located on the outskirts, surrounded by new banks, strip developments and wide suburban-style avenues, Maria's is an adobe refuge that has stood the test of time. Effusive local proclaim Maria's has the only worthwhile margarita in town or state. In fact, the margarita menu is four, duplexed, fine-print pages, elaborating at least sixty variations, from five bucks to over seventy five bucks each. They are never blended. Freshly squeeze lime juice only, of course. To demonstrate your margarita chops, order one with anejo (aged) tequila only. Cointreau or Grand Marnier only please, never triple sec. Note that Santa Fe is at 7000'. One margi' feels like two, and two feels like four, and so forth. Have fun, but be careful! Maria's also features a crackling kiva in reception. There is a cherubic, brightly-clad Latina in a spotless glass enclosure hand-crafting the best, freshest tortillas you ever tasted. The sublime specialty is chile rellenos. Order the staggering appetizer plate to navigate to your main course. The rustic flan is the best in Santa Fe. It is located at 555 West Cordova Road 505/983-7929
The Shed -- This charming place is the last outpost of good eating on Santa Fe's famed Plaza. It is a 16th-century building (yes, sixteenth century) with all types of small rooms, cut throughs, low ceilings and terra-cotta floors. The cuisine is solid and inexpensive. There is a spacious, popular bar. A tiny, sunken kiva gets a lot of attention in winter. The kitchen produces all the standards, such as enchiladas, stewed pork, and posole. What is positively off-the-chart and earns The Shed the James Beard recognition year over year is locally grown red-chile sauce. Wow. Because it is inexpensive and fun, the shed is popular with young people, students and artists. It is located at 113 1/2 E Palace Ave. (505) 982-9030 (505) 982-0902
The Pink Adobe -- At the end of the Santa Fe Trail, lies the legendary Pink Adobe. Long the favorite of movie stars, writers, bohemians and Santa Fe society, the Pink has not lost one whiff of authenticity. Sure, they've expanded to a cafe and sell t-shirts, but genuine, earthy quality of the setting, people and cuisine seem just to get better over the years. The Pink Adobe is really two buildings, face to face. One is the famous/infamous Dragon Bar, the other, the restaurant. What sets the Pink Adobe apart is the fusion of high New Mexican cuisine paired with authentic down-home New Orleans cooking. Normally, this type blasphemous culinary 'con'-fusion should be avoid, but this place makes it transcendental. After all, it takes New Orleans to put the pink in adobe. The specials, such as red-chile barbeque ribs with green chile corn bread are tops. Easily the best apple pie in North America. (Sorry, it is utterly indescribable. Just order it, you will agree.). It is located at 406 Old Santa Fe Trail (505) 983-7712
Note: These establishments are institutions, having remained consistently good for decades. They deserve the requisite attention and respect. The balance of dining in Santa Fe can be touristy, flat and disappointing. Beware.
Finally, for the tuxedoed set and those about to go down on bended knee, The Compound on Canyon Drive is the place, It is excellent. For stylish hipsters and art dealers, go to Geronimo's, also on Canyon. Both are expensive, but worth it for high desert elegance. Also, state law prohibits corkage, off-sale liquor and carry-out of unfinished wine. New Mexico has a severe drunk driving problem and enforcement/penalties to match. Fuego, in our hotel, had a prix fixe menu for $175.00 (sic), sans wine, coffee, tip. Yes, Virginia, there is a thriving market in Santa Fe for this sort of excess, but considering, you're wise save that kinda dinning money for New York, Paris or your congressional representative.