Food & Drink
Paloma — Creative, upscale Mexican restaurant just up from the Railyard with top-shelf cocktails and a nice patio out back for warm summer nights. I always order the Negroni Oaxaca cocktail and steak fajitas.
Tomasita’s — Casual, colorful Railyard spot serving traditional Southwestern cuisine and strong margaritas for lunch and dinner. ☞ Every order includes a fluffy sopapilla—a traditional deep-fried, doughy pastry—in a basket with a side of honey butter.
Shake Foundation — You do need to have a chile hamburger while here. This is the place to go.
Tesuque Market — Local roadside favorite with a clutch of picnic benches outside, excellent New Mexican fare & seriously boozy cocktails. No reservations; be prepared to wait—with a drink—during peak hours. ☞ Do the Little Tesuque Trail hike first, to work up an appetite.
Paper Dosa — Flavorful South Indian cuisine, most of it paired with a dosa (a lentil and rice crêpe) in a charming spot with an outdoor patio.
Izanami — Japanese cuisine, ramen, bento boxes & more at the fab restaurant at the Ten Thousand Waves Spa. Reserve ahead. ☞ Book yourself into one of their private onsens to make an afternoon or evening of it.
Jambo Café — Delicious African-Caribbean fusion that runs the gamut from jerk chicken to goat stew, located in a strip mall south of town.
The Compound — New American cuisine and a cool sunken bar on arty Canyon Road.
Geronimo — White-tablecloth treatment on Canyon Road. Order the mesquite-grilled lobster tails with angel-hair pasta; you won’t regret it.
Arroyo Vino — If you have opera tickets and don’t want to tailgate, bookmark this spot near the Opera House for a pre-performance meal. The focus is on seasonal produce grown in the kitchen garden; they have a wine store, too.
El Parasol — “Fast Mexican” mini-chain with several locations in the area. I’m partial to the one on City of Gold Rd in Pojoaque, north of town (a good stop pre or post Bandelier or Los Alamos–area hikes); there’s a more basic outlet in Santa Fe, where you can get your orders to go.
Bakeries & Cafés
Clafoutis — The best pastries in town (yes, I have tried all the pastries in Santa Fe). Can confirm: The morning rush for croissants, pain au chocolat, and other sweet and savory treats is totally justified. Sit-down service also offered.
Sage Bakehouse — The best breads in town, including a Chile-cheese bread that often sells out by 11am.
Better Day Café — Breakfast burritos made à la carte. Order ahead for pickup and fuel up before a morning hike or ski run.
Dolina Café & Bakery — While this Eastern European café is known for doing a solid breakfast, its divine cookies and pies are what bring me back again & again.
Downtown Subscription — Beloved local hangout for coffee & snacks on the Eastside, near Canyon Road. Scores big points for its magazine selection—it carries the New Yorker, Cherry Bomb, Italian Vogue, and more. ☞ They also stock the New York Times. You have to ask for it; it’s kept behind the counter.
Wine & Cocktails
Secreto Lounge — Order the signature Smoked Sage Margarita at the Hotel St Francis’s bar and watch the world go by on their outside patio.
Gruet Winery Santa Fe Tasting Room — This family-owned New Mexico winery has been producing excellent sparkling wines in the Champagne style since 1984. You can try them all at their intimate tasting room near the Plaza.
Altar Spirits — This new distiller handcrafts its own vodka (Ritual), gin (Sigil), and soon, bitters, which form the base of their interesting cocktail menu, served in a massive lounge in the heart of the Railyard District.
Tonic — Cocktail and jazz bar right off the Plaza has an intriguing drinks menu (Negroni with saltwater? Check) and a small comfort-food menu that leans surprisingly Québécois (See: Daily poutine.)