Taste the West: Santa Fe
Indulge in top-notch Southwestern fare and more in New Mexico's tastiest city
Cafe Pasqual's, a onetime fueling station, now dishes up some of the meanest huevos in town. The hordes line up before 8:00 for smoked-trout hash with poached eggs, gruyère potato cake, and tomatillo salsa, served in a cozy room decorated with hand-painted tiles and murals.
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Run by the same family for three generations, The Shed occupies a sprawling, brightly painted hacienda built in 1692. The menu hinges on the famed Hatch chiles, milled on-site before being put to good use in dishes like blue-corn burritos filled with beans and cheese and drenched with spicy red chile sauce.
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At Low 'n Slow Lowrider Bar, a tribute to Latino car culture, photos of cherry rides cover brushed-metal walls and old Pontiac hubcaps bookend the bar. The food is all New Mexico comfort—try the cheese-filled beef hot dogs wrapped in a corn tortilla, deep-fried, and served with salsa. Pair one with a Hot Wheels Margarita (chile-infused tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice) to get your motor revving.
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Azur serves up sunny Mediterranean fare like socca pissaladière—the street flatbread of Nice—alongside a list of six dozen wines that reps Old World. The diverse menu leans toward small plates from around the region, though you'll also find pasta and other mains.
A recent renovation and menu update have reinvigorated Pink Adobe, a 1944 landmark known for its arty, old Santa Fe atmosphere and Steak Dunigan entrée (mushrooms and green chile top a charbroiled New York strip). Its lounge, the Dragon Room Bar, features paintings by restaurant founder Rosalea Murphy.
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In the revamped Railyard District, the indoor-outdoor Santa Fe Farmers Market has become a bona fide tourist attraction within walking distance of the even-more-touristy historic main Plaza. Yet locals love it for its utter authenticity and regional offerings, like the nearly 60 varieties of New Mesico chiles for sale.
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At The Teahouse, you can choose from more than a hundred loose-leaf blends to savor alongside a grilled chicken sandwich on housemade sourdough wheat bread in the Zen-like lounge. For a bag to go, we like the genmaicha, a green tea, that’s pan-fried and mixed with toasted rice to create a nutty brew.
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The Tune-Up Cafe is pure coziness in a postage-stamp adobe. Quesadillas and pupusas are go-tos for lunch, but dinner is the main draw: the flat-iron organic steak topped with fresh-grilled green chile paired with an inexpensive bottle of French wine is a happy surprise, especially when the bill arrives.
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A steady stream of locals head to Whole Hog Cafe strictly for its meats and accompaniments. Pay attention to the restaurant’s name when you order—go for the pork ribs or a pulled-pork and coleslaw sandwich with a side of potato salad laced with bacon and sour cream.
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The menu at Vinaigrette boasts 10 classic and 12 original salads with names like Eat Your Peas (a mix of baby lettuce, green peas, sautéed mushrooms, and asiago cheese) and the Nutty Pear-fessor, a fresh take on the old pear-and-blue-cheese standby. Much of the seasonal produce comes from the chef’s 12-acre nearby farm.