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Santa Fe abounds in dining options, with hundreds of restaurants in all categories. Competition among them is steep, and spots are continually opening and closing. Locals watch closely to see which ones will survive. Some chefs create dishes that incorporate traditional Southwestern foods with ingredients not indigenous to the region; their restaurants are referred to in the listings as "creative Southwestern." There is also standard regional New Mexican cuisine, and beyond that, diners can opt for excellent steak and seafood, as well as Continental, European, Asian, and, of course, Mexican menus. On the south end of town, Santa Fe has the requisite chain establishments such as Outback Steakhouse, 2574 Camino Entrada (tel. 505/424-6800), Olive Garden, 3781 Cerrillos Rd. (tel. 505/438-7109), and Red Lobster, 4450 Rodeo Rd. (tel. 505/473-1610).

Especially during peak tourist seasons, dinner reservations may be essential. Reservations are always recommended at better restaurants.

Downtown -- This area includes the circle defined by the Paseo de Peralta and St. Francis Drive, as well as Canyon Road.

The South Side -- Santa Fe's motel strip and other streets south of Paseo de Peralta have their share of good, reasonably priced restaurants. Take note that the Bumble Bee's Baja Grill and the Blue Corn Café have south side locations, highly recommended. Also, Mariscos La Playa has a second location out Cerrillos Road.

An Echo of Italy

If all the shopping has emptied more than your bank account, stop in at Ecco (105 E. Marcy St.; tel. 505/986-9778) for an organic espresso drink -- the vanilla latte is legendary. Alongside your hot or cold drink, sample a cup or cone of gelato, Santa Fe's finest. The mango salsa and the chocolate banana could make Michelangelo's David smile. Ecco also serves sandwiches on farmhouse bread.

Dining on the Outskirts

If you're on the south or east side of Santa Fe, you might want to try some of the excellent restaurants on the city's outskirts. Toward the east is the famed Harry's Roadhouse, Old Las Vegas Highway (tel. 505/989-4629), always packed with locals, but worth a wait to sample from their menu of inventive diner-style food. Try the burgers or the salmon with a mustard glaze. It's open daily 7am to 9:30pm. South of town, on the Turquoise Trail, check out San Marcos Café, 3877 NM 14, near Lone Butte (tel. 505/471-9298). Set in an old adobe with wood plank floors, the restaurant serves excellent cinnamon rolls and New Mexican food. Try the eggs San Marcos -- tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs and topped with guacamole, pinto beans, Jack cheese, and red chile. Open daily 8am to 2pm (the cafe stops serving at 1:50pm.) For an elegant meal south of town, try the Blue Heron Restaurant at Sunrise Springs Resort, 242 Los Pinos Rd. (tel. 800/955-0028 or 505/471-3600; www.sunrisesprings.com). Serving seasonally inspired New American food, the romantic place overlooks a series of ponds and has a ceviche and champagne patio bar open in summer. Try the grilled wild halibut with fennel, citrus salad, and green beans. It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dining with the Bishop

If you'd like to have a little history with your crab cakes or filet mignon, head north of town to Las Fuentes Restaurant & Bar at Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa, 1297 Bishop's Lodge Rd. (tel. 505/819-4035; www.bishopslodge.com). There, chef Brian Shannon, who trained with some of Santa Fe's most notable chefs, including Martin Rios, offers an imaginative menu utilizing seasonal and often organic produce. At lunchtime you might sit on the terrace overlooking grand cottonwoods while savoring a roasted red bell pepper soup or niçoise salad. Or, at dinnertime, in the dining room, with hardwood floors and pressed tin chandeliers, you might enjoy ancho chile crusted wild boar or grilled shrimp with lobster-oyster mushroom ravioli. Sunday brunch is a real treat here too. When you finish feasting, ask for a key at the front desk and then take a short walk up some quaint steps to the 1853 chapel, which once served as Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy's retreat. Near the altar, you'll see the controversial religious leader's cloak and bible, and, next door, his spartan residence. While at the Lodge, pick up a copy of From Resort to Retreat, a booklet celebrating the 90th anniversary of Bishop's Lodge. Las Fuentes is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

Blue Corn Café -- A relaxed atmosphere and their own menu pleases kids, while excellent brewpub beer pleases parents.

Bumble Bee's Baja Grill -- A casual atmosphere allows parents to relax while their kids chow down on quesadillas and burritos.

Upper Crust Pizza -- Many people feel it has the best pizza in town, and it'll deliver it to tired tots and their families at downtown hotels.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.