For a city the size of Santa Fe, it is impressive just how many great restaurants there are in the New Mexican capital city! I have visited Santa Fe twice in recent years, and on each trip, I have eaten incredibly well. What I really like about the cuisine in Santa Fe is the unique blend of cultures and ingredients used here. The city sits at the historical (and modern) convergence of several influences — Spanish, Mexican, Native American — giving it a different flair that you can’t necessarily find in other places.
Dining in Santa Fe ranges from walk up windows and casual fare to high-end fine dining and tasting menus. Depending on your occasion or desires, you are bound to find delicious cuisine while traveling in Santa Fe. I will highlight 10 places I loved in Santa Fe, but you are bound to find your own favorites if you simply let your nose guide the way!
Here are the 10 essential restaurants for foodies in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
My favorite of the breakfasts that I ate in Santa Fe was definitely at Iconik. With a few locations around the city, this roastery and cafe offers up a curious assortment of globally inspired breakfast and lunch fare. Some of the items on the menu, such as the okonomiyaki, I had never seen offered at a cafe before. The spacious dining room at the Lupe location has an attached patio, and you’ll see people enjoying pleasant conversations or working on their laptops. It has the feeling of a community space. The espresso I had at Iconik was prepared perfectly, and it was exactly the kind of ambiance I wanted to start my day.
For some top-notch loaves of batch baked goods and bread, look no further than Sage Bakehouse. Located in the Railyard area of Santa Fe, this European-inspired cafe has an inviting terraced patio for dining in, or you can easily pick up baked goods to go. They prepare an excellent assortment of open-face sandwiches on their house-baked breads like sourdough or focaccia.
The colorful and charming Tune-Up Cafe has been featured on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ on the Food Network. This well-known but beloved local jaunt offers a standard menu of hearty breakfast fare, including southwestern scrambles, huevos rancheros, and burritos. After starting your day here, you’ll be full all day!
The airy and bright Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen is a perfect place for a casual and healthy breakfast or brunch. Their housemade kombucha and veggie juice was a delightful way to start my day. Plus they’ve got good, fresh food to boot! When I ate here for my bachelorette party, we ordered just about everything on the menu, as you can see from the photo. I was so inspired by their acorn squash “egg in a hole” that I now make it at home for myself!
For a cheap and cheerful lunch spot, the Shake Foundation is an easy choice. Order a classic diner style burger, shake and fries at the walk-up window of this casual eatery, and then wait for them to call your number while sitting at one of the many picnic tables on their patio. They are most famous for their green chile cheeseburger which you can get as a single, double or even triple burger.
The interior styling at Modern General Seed + Feed is straight up swoon worthy. It’s a perfectly blended combination of farmhouse and industrial design elements with exposed wood beams and metal ductwork housed in a cheerful and bright open space. The mixed use business concept houses a small cafe + coffee bar with a flower shop and a gift shop. There is a nice assortment of cookbooks and coffee table books to peruse as you wait for your pancakes or healthy sandwich. The curried chicken sandwich was simply delightful.
After two years living in Germany (which has lackluster Mexican fare), I was dying for a really good upscale Mexican meal that made me feel like I was back in Mexico City. Paloma gave that to me. The quirky decor in the main dining room creates a colorful backdrop for what will certainly be a memorable meal. The bartenders expertly mix up a variety of tequila and mezcal cocktails that shouldn’t be missed, and the menu. WOW. There are a number of traditional and surprisingly Mexican dishes on the menu that you’ll immediately be intrigued by. The dishes’ flavors are complex but come off as effortless, and each dish is better than the next. Share a bunch of things because you will want to try as many dishes as possible at Paloma.
The creative combinations of South Indian flavors coming out of Chef Paulraj Karuppasamy’s kitchen at Paper Dosa are a bright spot in Santa Fe’s dining scene. This place offers something different and delicious. I highly recommend finding time to enjoy one of the large but surprisingly light dosas, because this was one of my favorite restaurant experiences in Santa Fe (even though I got it for takeover thanks to Covid). The menu features predominantly vegetarian dishes such as green chile cheese dosa or paneer and peas dosa.
For a refined take on New American cuisine housed in a beautifully designed space, Radish & Rye is a great choice. I went to their original location on my first visit to Santa Fe, but returned to the new location on my second visit because I remember it so fondly. The menu changes regularly with the seasons and as locally available produce changes. A couple of dishes I especially liked were rustic corn chowder, fried green tomatoes and lamb chops. Their cocktail menu is also a showstopper!
If you’re feeling peckish and looking for a tapas style dinner, the tucked away La Boca on the northside of downtown fits the bill. The menu offers many of the classic tapas dishes you would expect along with a few surprises. The charcuterie items, like Iberian ham and manchego cheese, are great. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will pace your meal to perfection, ensuring that you are never left wanting for food or drink.