Santa Fe has an unexpected number of sophisticated restaurants. On this trip, I made some new discoveries and renewed my acquaintance with an old favorite that remains in fine form.
The restaurant of the Inn and Spa at Loretto has one of the loveliest patios in the city, illuminated by chandeliers, candles and an immense kiva-style fireplace. Beneath the Gothic Loretto Chapel, I feasted on oversize grilled shrimp seasoned with achiote and served over a sweet and slightly pungent pumpkin-seed mole. This was followed by an outstanding main course of “Pekin duck breast” accompanied by a cherry compote and ancho mole.
Luminaria 211 Old Santa Fe Trail. Tel. (505) 988-5531.
Occupying a converted house on a quiet side street, this Santa Fe stalwart was threatened with closure when its owner died earlier this year. But Executive Chef Xavier Grenet took the helm and now maintains the restaurant’s high standards. We ate on the covered patio and enjoyed dishes such as artichoke hearts with jamón ibérico, shaved pecorino and olive oil; and succulent rack of pork in mustard sauce with piñon and sage bread pudding.
Ristra 548 Agua Fria Street. Tel. (505) 982-8608.
This ambitious venture aims for Michelin star-style dining but doesn’t always make the mark. Our server was very slow to appear, and she subsequently disappeared for such prolonged periods that we wondered whether we’d been forgotten. An appetizer of spring pea soup with Parmesan-pepper flan, blue lump crabmeat, smoked trout roe and blue corn “crumbs” was surprisingly bland. On the other hand, my main course of Alaskan halibut with celery root purée, baby bok choy, tomato conserve, golden corn soubise and olives tasted deliciously clean, despite the overly sweet tomato jam.
Restaurant Martin 526 Galisteo Street. Tel. (505) 820-0919.
On Museum Hill, right between the Museum of International
Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, stands an unlikely candidate for a restaurant list in this publication: the Museum Hill Café. Surrounded by a mix of locals and tourists, we had a surprisingly delightful lunch on its dappled patio, sharing a plate of savory duck flautas to the sounds of live Spanish-style guitar music. The Ponderosa New Mexico Chardonnay was a well-balanced accompaniment.
Museum Hill Cafe 710 Camino Lejo. Tel. (505) 984-8900.
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