You could easily mistake this gable-roofed adobe cottage—set just behind the Sanbusco Market Center on the fringes of the Guadalupe District—for someone's house. And even once you’re inside among the dark-wood chairs and twinkling postmodern chandeliers, a low-key, homey vibe prevails. Friendly, easygoing staffers banter with regulars as they serve up chef Xavier Grenet's artful Southwest-meets-Mediterranean dishes—like crisp-skinned salmon served over leek risotto and lacquered with an onion-confit-and-sundried-tomato sauce. On a brittle winter night, warm up with a bowl of black mussels simmering in a slightly spicy chipotle-mint broth.
Tip: Ristra's towering napoleon, layered with sliced banana and topped with white-chocolate mousse and hot-fudge sauce, is one of the splashiest desserts in Santa Fe.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.