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Santa Fe — Dining

(Area Code 505)

On the mountain, skiers have two choices. La Casa Cafeteria in the base lodge called La Casa Mall, and Totemoff’s Bar and Grill at the base of the Tesuque Peak Chair. La Casa, with a French chef, offers a variety of options including a pasta bar and a daily special such as fresh salmon with lemon tarragon. Its breakfast burrito is wicked good, but only for brave palates. Totemoff’s features burgers, salads, pasta, cocktails and a sun deck.

Back in the city, Santa Fe cooks and you’re in for a treat. Including fast food, Santa Fe has nearly 200 places to strap on the feed bag. From traditional New Mexican cuisine to steaks and seafood, Santa Fe has more food variety than you could consume in a year and far more good restaurants than we have room to recommend.

Geronimo (724 Canyon Rd., 982-1500; $$$$) is the spot for that special night out, with crisp linens, attentive staff and wonderfully prepared eclectic cuisine.

Santa Fe’s favorite new eatery is The Railyard Restaurant & Saloon (989-3300; $$) at – where else – the old railyard, the town’s newly revamped hip district on Guadalupe St. This American steakhouse was created by the owner/chef of the award-winning 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar (315 Old Santa Fe Trail; 986-9190; $$$) that offers French Provençal cuisine and excellent wines.

Four main hotel restaurants shouldn’t be missed. We recommend the spectacular dining room at La Fonda, La Plazuela (992-5511; $$–$$$$; above right). Breakfast lets you enjoy the colorful dining room for more reasonable prices. Baleen Santa Fe (984-7915; $$$–$$$$), at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, is only steps from the Plaza. The food, delightfully inventive, is inspired by New Mexican flavors. Fuego (986-0000; $$$$) at La Posada de Santa Fe has award-winning four-diamond fine dining with a fabulous wine list and cheese selection like no other. And the Anasazi Restaurant (988-3236; $$$-$$$$) at the Inn of the Anasazi serves a fabulous Sunday brunch and a signature dinner dish of grilled Colorado lamb.

Everyone recommends the Coyote Cafe (132 W. Water St.; 983-1615; $$$–$$$$). The main dining room has a fixed-price menu and modern Southwestern cuisine; those in the bar can order à la carte. Pasqual’s (121 Don Gaspar; 983-9340; $$$) is great for breakfast, but it’s good anytime for delicious and beautifully presented New Mexican cuisine. Call for dinner reservations or expect to wait a long time. If you want to meet people, ask to be seated at the communal table.

La Casa Sena (125 East Palace Ave.; 988-9232; $$$–$$$$) is tastefully continental with a Mexican flair. Don’t miss the adjacent Cantina ($$–$$$), where waiters and bartenders sing cabaret between food and drinks.

At Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen (555 W. Cordova Rd.; 983-7929; $; below right), you’ll probably meet the affable owner Al Lucero, who wrote Maria’s Real Margarita Book featuring history and recipes of the more than 50 “real” margaritas served in the restaurant. Robert Redford, a frequent customer when he’s in town, wrote the foreword. The food is wonderful also, especially the posole and green chile stew.

Locals flock to The Shed (113 ½ Palace Ave.; 982-9030; $$) and La Choza (905 Alarid St.; 982-0909; $$) but watch out for the green chile—it could burn a hole in your ski boots. If you dare to try the chile make sure you get lots of garlic bread to ease the pain. Los Mayas (409 West Water St.; 986-9930; $$) serves fresh Mayan food with guacamole prepared tableside.

The Pink Adobe (406 Old Santa Fe Trail; 983-7712; $$–$$$) is Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant, a local favorite and sometimes difficult to even get reservations (which are necessary). They specialize in New Mexican and Creole foods. Next door, The Dragon Room is a favorite of locals and visitors alike for cocktails. El Farol (808 Canyon Rd.; 983-9912; $$$) is the oldest Spanish-food restaurant and dates back to just a few years after the Pink Adobe. Specialties include a variety of curry dishes, hot and cold tapas as well as one of the best selections of Spanish wines in the U.S.

For a romantic evening try Andiamo (322 Garfield St.; 995-9595; $$). It is a little off the beaten track but serves unique pasta dishes with candlelight ambiance. The president of Italy gave Osteria D’Assisi (58 So. Federal Place; 986-5858; $$) the “Ciao Italia Award” for authentic Italian cuisine. The locals’ favorite for inexpensive authentic Italian food is Il Piatto (95 West Marcy St.; 984-1091; $$).

The Cowgirl (319 S. Guadalupe; 928-2565; $–$$) is what the name implies with authentic Texas-style barbecue, kid’s menu and play area. Don’t hesitate to join the tourists at The Ore House (upstairs at 50 Lincoln Ave.; 983-8687; $$) on the Plaza for free apres-ski snacks. On Canyon Road, Celebrations (613 Canyon Rd.; 989-8904; $$) is in the heart of gallery row and is jammed at lunchtime.

Tomasita’s Cafe (500 S. Guadalupe; 983-5721; $) is fast food with a twist. Portions are large, service is friendly, and it’s a favorite of Santa Fe families, so be prepared to wait. It is inexpensive, and has some of the best New Mexican fare in town. The Plaza Restaurant (54 Lincoln; 982-1664; $) is a throwback to diner days; regulars swear everything is good and very affordable. Zia Diner (326 South Guadalupe; 988-7008; $) is an easy 15-minute walk from the Plaza and features All-American favorites (New Mexican style, of course) such as meat loaf stuffed with piñon nuts, basic pastas and soups. Buzz in to Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill (301 Jefferson & 3701 Cerrillos Rd.; 820-2862; $) where you’ll find fresh fast food like fish tacos and homemade burritos.

If you want a break from Mexican food, Atomic Grill (103 E. Water St.; 820-2866; $) serves wood-fired pizza, pastas and hamburgers together with about 80 different bottled beers. There’s take-out and delivery too. Khonami (next door to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame) serves Japanese. Locals love Jinja Asia Cafe in the North DeVargas Center (510 Guadalupe; 982-4321; $-$$) where they blend cooking styles of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan for American tastes. Katrina survivor Honey Howard opened LeMoyne’s Landing (420 N. Guadalupe St.; 820-2268; $$) and cooks what she knows best New Orleans comfort food.

Bobcat Bite is a tiny diner in the middle of nowhere, and it serves only a few things, but none of that matters when you sink your teeth into the green-chili cheeseburger. Made from beef that’s ground fresh every morning, the burger is so thick and juicy it can be hard to handle. The story behind the name is that bobcats used to come down from the mountains, and the owners of the restaurant would feed them scraps of food. They would warn diners to be careful because “bobcat bite.” Information: 420 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 505/983-5319, bobcatbite.com, green-chili cheeseburger $7.50, cash only, closed Sun.–Tues. From Valerie Lefler, Tooele, Utah, in Budget Travel.

For breakfast with the movers and shakers in downtown Santa Fe, head to Tia Sophia (210 W San Francisco St, 983-9880; $). Tecolote Cafe (1203 Cerrillos Rd.; 988-1362; $–$$) is the place for breakfast just like Mom used to make if your mother liked using spices.

Dining Legend: $$$$—Entrees $30+; $$$—$20–$30; $$—$10–$20; $—less than $10