Santa Fe abounds in dining options, with hundreds of restaurants in all categories. That’s the good news. What’s the bad news? There are hundreds of restaurants in all categories. The fierce competition means that not all will survive. We suggest calling ahead to check not only on whether a particular restaurant is still there, but what the current hours are, since restaurants here frequently change their hours of operation.
Many of the long-time favorites serve traditional northern New Mexican cuisine, which emphasizes spicy chile sauces. If you’re not used to spicy food, you may want to ask the servers how hot the chile is; many restaurants will either bring you a sample to taste before ordering, or put the chile on the side. There are also a variety of American restaurants here, as well as those specializing in European, Mexican, South American, and Japanese cuisine. Especially during peak tourist seasons, dinner reservations may be essential. Reservations are always recommended at better restaurants.
In New Mexico you’ll find that many restaurants serve beer and wine but no spirits; that’s because a beer and wine license is easier to obtain and cheaper than a full liquor license.
Looking for a familiar chain? Many are on the south end of town, on or near Cerrillos Road. You’ll find Olive Garden ★ at 3781 Cerrillos Rd. (www.olivegarden.com; tel. 505/438-7109); Applebee’s Grill & Bar ★★ at 4246 Cerrillos Rd. (www.applebees.com; tel. 505/473-7551); and Red Lobster ★ at 4450 Rodeo Rd. (www.redlobster.com; tel. 505/473-1610). If you’re getting in late, leaving early, or just hungry at 3am, there’s a 24-hour Denny’s ★★ at 3004 Cerrillos Rd. (www.dennys.com; tel. 505/471-2152); and a 24-hour IHOP ★ at 3301 Cerrillos Rd. (www.ihop.com; tel. 505/438-3773). An excellent choice for a healthy sandwich or soup to take back to your room or on a hike (or eat on-site) is the well-respected chain Panera Bread ★★★, with its Santa Fe branch at 3535 Zafarano Dr. (www.panerabread.com; tel. 505/471-9396).
Blue Corn Café — A relaxed atmosphere and their own menu pleases kids, while excellent brewpub beer pleases parents.
Cowgirl BBQ — A casual atmosphere, lots of old photos of cowgirls, and the ice cream baked potato makes for a fun time for kids and their parents.
Plaza Café — Burgers, sandwiches, a funky atmosphere, and an old-fashioned ice cream–style counter make this a kids' favorite.
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.