Where to Go Next in Santa Fe
Best New Restaurants
315 Restaurant and Wine Bar To show off his monster cellar, 315's Louis Moskow recently converted one of his restaurant's dining rooms into a wine bar. Sip New Mexico's Gruet Blanc de Blancs and sample the terrine of country ham with parsley, or try Moskow's spin on cheese fries: new potatoes laced with raclette and duck confit (315 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505-986-9190).
Cantina at El Encanto Owner Fernando Olea's El Encanto may be fancier, but his new Cantina has more zing. Located in the same rambling hacienda as El Encanto, Cantina excels with its well-priced botanas (Mexican tapas), like pellizcadas, masa cakes topped with chicken mole poblano (416 Agua Fria; 505-988-5991).
Kasasoba In this handsome noodle house, Japanese sci-fi movie posters hang above diners slurping from fragrant, beautifully arranged bowls of ramen, soba and udon soups. Sweet tofu skins, spinach and udon float in dashi; a hearty, chile-spiced pork broth is studded with supple strips of beef tenderloin (544 Agua Fria; 505-984-1969).
Sugar Nymphs Bistro You'll have to drive an hour north, but chef Kai Harper Leah's food justifies the trip. Leah prepares simple but refined dishes using local produce and meat, as in her tender pork chops spiced with ancho chiles. Your trout, stuffed with a tomato-onion compote, was probably caught earlier in the day "just up the road" (15046 Highway 75, Peñasco; 505-587-0311).
Best Coffee Shop
Jane's Jane Mitchell has lived in Santa Fe for only a year, but her new café, housed in a low-slung 1850s adobe, manages to encapsulate the city's mellow but sophisticated spirit. Inside, customers crowd into cozy banquettes; outside, the tables are shaded by trees nearly as old as the building itself. Mitchell provides homemade vegetable lasagna as well as a small selection of sandwiches and freshly grilled quesadillas. But the real draw here is the coffee: She brews only Capricorn coffee from San Francisco, and the pours are dark, rich and powerful (237 E. DeVargas St.; 505-983-9894).
Best Menu Makeover
The Restaurant at the Inn at Loretto Chef Mike Dimas has turned a once dull restaurant into one of the city's finest. His menu—pecan-smoked quail with blood-orange pico de gallo, red-snapper tempura with cabbage and snap peas—is a worthy match for the dramatic, multilevel adobe building. At Christmas the walls are decorated with New Mexican lights called farolitos (211 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505-984-7915).
Coyote Cafe and Santacafe are the two most famous restaurants in Santa Fe but not the only classics.
Cafe San Estevan At his influential five-year-old restaurant, monk-turned-chef Steve Garcia accents New Mexican cuisine with French touches, as in a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with mushroom duxelles (428 Agua Fria; 505-995-1996).
The Compound Chef Mark Kiffin took over the kitchen two years ago; now he's turning out skillful modern American dishes, such as a silky tuna tartare with preserved lemon and osetra caviar (653 Canyon Rd.; 505-982-4353).
Geronimo Considered by many observers the best restaurant in Santa Fe, Geronimo spoils diners with chef Eric DiStefano's luxurious creations: grilled tenderloin medallions with lobster sauce and seared foie gras; Mexican white prawns with chiles and basil aioli (724 Canyon Rd.; 505-982-1500).
Rociada A stellar wine list and Eric Stapelman and Nelli Maltezos's French country menu—duck breast with cherry reduction, octopus-and-calamari salad—make this a perfect stop after a visit to the nearby Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (304 Johnson St.; 505-983-3800).