20 of the Best Restaurants in Santa Fe for Chile

Get your fiery food fix

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Santa Fe chile fixSanta Fe has a dynamic, constantly evolving, food scene. The perennial favorites have been around for decades, but there are always new restaurants opening, often fusing traditional cuisine and ingredients to create interesting and unusual combinations.

Several of the places included aren’t much to look at. If you didn’t know about them, you would probably drive by without stopping. Others score higher on atmosphere, but often to the detriment of the chile potency.

If your favorite Santa Fe restaurant isn’t listed, please give them a shout out in the comments below. Additional details are helpful, like favorite dish.

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Café Castro is a relative newcomer compared to many of the venerable establishments referenced on this list, but it is one worth noting. Whereas both their red and green chile is delicious, it is the red that is noteworthy; flavorful, with an earthy heat that builds tempo as it dances across your taste buds. The red chile is typically hotter than the green.

Located at 2811 Cerrillos Road, this homey restaurant offers a limited menu of New Mexican standards. It doesn’t have the ambience of the establishments closer to the plaza, but it certainly has all the flavor, at prices that leave room for desert and a movie, which is a worthy consideration when dining in Santa Fe. The portions are sizeable and sharable, but make sure you save room for the complimentary sopapilla that accompanies every meal.

A few favorites: carne adovada, chile rellanos and, of course, sopapillas.

  • Tues. – Sun. from 10 am – 9 pm

(505) 473-5800.

LUNCH & DINNER

Located at 409 W Water St, the cozy adobe structure was the site of the owner, Roberto’s, birth. Though he was born in Santa Fe, Roberto spent his formative years in Chimayó where he absorbed the culture and culinary traditions of his family, emulating their dogged work ethic.

Casa Chimayó proudly serves sun-dried red chile pods and fresh, roasted green chile that is hand peeled in-house. Both red and green chiles are grown and harvested by local farmers. The only item in which cumin is used is the “Mercedes Posole.” The menu comes with a warning label about the chile. For those with timid taste buds, there is a milder alternative, called “ranchero sauce.” Casa Chimayó doesn’t have a full liquor license, but they do serve beer and wine, including a made a hand-crafted agave wine margaritas and other wine-based cocktails using house-made syrups. They make their own infusions using fresh juices, fruits, vegetables and herbs.

A few favorites: chiles rellenos en nogada, green chile stew, enchiladas de pollo en mole rojo, carne adovada blue corn enchiladas, and natillas.

  • Wed. – Mon. from 12 pm – 9 pm

(505) 428-0391

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Located at 121 Don Gaspar Ave, southwest of the Plaza, Café Pasqual is a Santa Fe favorite. Epicurious.com rated Café Pasqual as one of America’s top ten restaurants for breakfast in 2003. The menu is eclectic, offering a mix of culinary treats inspired by the culinary traditions of New Mexico, Mexico and Asia. The food is fresh, often sourced locally and mostly organic. The chile is flavorful, though from a local’s perspective, I wouldn’t describe it as ‘hot.’ The atmosphere is cozy, with seating to accommodate 50 patrons in close quarters, usually communal style where you share a table with strangers. There is often a wait unless you get there when they open. They don’t accept reservations.

A few favorites: huevos motulenos, huevos barbacoa, chile rellenos, and the Mexican hot chocolate.

  • Mon. – Sun. from 8 am – 4 pm, with dinner hours Sun. – Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Fri. & Sat. from 5:30 pm – 10 pm

(505) 983-9340

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

This perennial favorite has two locations in Santa Fe: 1833 Cerrillos Road and 298 Dinosaur Trail. Like other establishments on this list, El Parasol is a family owned, locally loved taco house. With the fourth generation learning the ropes of the business now, this restaurant had an inauspicious beginning in the 1950s, when two enterprising boys capitalized on their mother’s culinary prowess, selling her tamales and tacos on the main drag in Espanola. Their parents set them up with a table and an umbrella, hence the logo and name.

A few favorites: breakfast burritos, carne adovada, menudo, chicharon burrito, tamale, and sopapillas.

  • Mon. – Fri. from 7:30 am – 8 pm

(505) 995-8015, Cerrillos location

(505) 995-8226 for the Dinosaur Trail location

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Horseman’s Haven has been favorite among chile addicted Santa Feans since 1981. Located next to the Giant gas station at 4354 Cerrillos Road, this family owned establishment caters to diners with a penchant for piquant peppers (say that three times fast). The portions are large. It is inexpensive and the chile is unadulterated bliss for anyone with disdain for chile that doesn’t induce perspiration. Considering that the proportion of capsaicin present in chile is correlated to the body’s endorphin reaction, prepare for a rush when dining here. Their chile is a hybrid variety, grown for them by seven farmers in Hatch, and it packs a punch. This is not the place to send tourists who are unfamiliar with New Mexico’s more potent peppers unless you have a sadistic desire to incinerate their taste buds.

Favorite: breakfast burrito, slathered in green chile, which is large enough for two people.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 8 am – 8:30 pm
  • Sun. from 8:30 am – 2 pm

(505) 471-5420

LUNCH & DINNER

Casa Sena is owned by Santa Fe gallery owner Gerald Peters. He has transformed a historic property into an art gallery. The atmosphere is quintessentially “old Santa Fe” style; welcoming, rustic, yet elegant, adobe ambience, with a beautiful, private courtyard close to the Santa Fe Plaza. They draw on local growers for the freshest ingredients, incorporating distinctly New Mexican flavors, usually with their own unique flair on traditional dishes. The waitstaff regularly break into Broadway show tunes. La Casa Sena’s food has attracted national attention, from Rachel Ray’s “Tasty Travels” to Bobby Flay’s “Food Nation.”

A few favorites: La Casa Sena eggs benedict, canadian bacon and poached egg smothered with Chimayo red chile hollandaise on a buttermilk biscuit, blue corn and chile muffins, and chocolate red chile soup.

  • Mon. – Sun. from 11 am – 9 pm

(505) 988-9232.

LUNCH & DINNER

The sister restaurant to The Shed, La Choza, at 905 Alarid St., has been providing comfort food to Santa Fe locals since 1983. Like many others on this list, La Choza and The Shed have been around for decades, with the third generation of Carswell’s taking charge of the expanded operation. The bright, colorful décor at La Choza is a charming counterpoint to the secluded, cozy, historic setting of The Shed; however, both restaurants draw on the traditional cuisine of northern New Mexico, a unique combination of Pueblo, Spanish and Mexican influence. They are known for their red chile enchiladas and blue corn specialties.

A few favorites: posole, sopapillas, blue corn enchiladas and chile rellenos.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 11 am – 2:30 pm for lunch and 5 pm – 9 pm for dinner

(505) 982-0909

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

La Plazuela is a picturesque, garden-like dining space inside the La Fonda hotel at 100 E San Francisco St., on the historic Santa Fe Plaza. La Fonda opened in 1929 and, like many hotels in the Fred Harvey system, it quickly established itself as a social center in the community, frequented by local politicians and visiting movie stars. Not only did the restaurant serve the great food characteristic of all Harvey hotels, it had a romantic and upscale ambience and a prime location on the Santa Fe Plaza.

The restaurant serves sophisticated northern New Mexican cuisine.

A few favorites: tortilla soup, fajitas, posole, tamales, table side guacamole, blue corn piñon pancakes or La Plazuela combo plate with a tamale, chile relleno, cheese enchilada, posole and beans (sampler of some of the best dishes).

  • Mon. – Sun. from 7 am – 3 pm for lunch and 5 pm – 10 pm for dinner

(505) 995-2334.

LUNCH & DINNER

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, at 555 Cordova Road, has been in business for over 60 years. The tradition began in 1950 when Maria and Gilbert Lopez started a small take-out kitchen specializing in traditional, northern New Mexican cuisine. Maria’s humble kitchen grew into a restaurant that has now become a Santa Fe landmark. In the dining room a small tortillera is enclosed behind a glass wall, constantly kneading dough into small balls, rolling them into flat disks about a foot wide, and flipping them on a preheated cast iron plate to ensure they are cooked evenly. They are made to order. Delicious! The salsa is also quite good, with a respectable amount of heat for locals.

A few favorites: blue corn enchiladas, green chile stew, carne adovada, and margaritas.

  • Mon. – Sun. from 11 am – 10 pm

(505) 983-7929

LUNCH & DINNER

Mucho Gusto is another local treasure, an unassuming gem tucked away at the back of a small strip mall at 839 Paseo De Peralta. Though there are many places in Santa Fe that rank high on aesthetics, locals know that some of the best places are diamonds in the rough. Occasionally a visiting foodie stumbles upon it due to doing research, like reading this blog.

Mucho Gusto has been catering to locals since 2003. They have a small dining room, limited to 32 patrons. Everything is made from scratch.

A few favorites: dos salsas y totopos, stuffed chicken breast, pollo relleno con salsa de crema, flautas, and flan.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 11 am – 9 pm

(505) 955-8402

BREAKFAST & LUNCH

Located near the Santa Fe Plaza at 209 E Palace Ave., the Palacio Café is a small, cozy place, with friendly, efficient customer service. Due to the quality of their food, and proximity to the Santa Fe Plaza, they are often quite busy during peak hours. There are a couple of table outside, which are ideal for waiting on pick up orders and/or people watching.

Palacio Café is popular for a variety of reasons, but two of the notable cuisine perks are their sandwiches and their traditional New Mexican cuisine. An article in Thrillist, honoring the best sandwiches and sandwich shops in each state, selected Palacio Café’s Taos Sandwich as one of the best in the nation. It is a compilation of sliced roast beef, provolone, carmelized onions and green chile.

A few favorites: huevos rancheros, breakfast tacos, chicharrón burrito, and green chile stew.

  • Sun. – Mon. from 7:30 am – 5 pm

(505) 989-3505

DINNER

The Pink Adobe Restaurant and Dragon Room Bar at 406 Old Santa Fe Trail is another Santa Fe institution, open since 1944. Culinary historians credit Rosalea Murphy, the original proprietor, for her instrumental role in launching the Santa Fe fine dining scene. Rosalea was a painter who moved to Santa Fe to join the burgeoning art scene after World War II. She turned to the culinary arts to support herself and her daughter. The Dragon Room Lounge was named one of the top 19 bars in the world by International Newsweek. The patio is beautiful.

A few favorites: chicken enchiladas, blue cornbread, the steak dunigan, a steak smothered in green chile and mushrooms, and Rosalea’s famous apple pie.

  • Tues. – Sun. from 5:30 pm – 9 pm

(505) 983-7712

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

They closed December, 2018. Who should take their spot on this list? Nominate your favorite in the comments below.

Located a block from the oldest church in the continental United States, Santa Fe Bite has prime real estate at 311 Old Santa Fe Trail. The owners, formerly of Bobcat Bites, moved their restaurant closer to the high traffic zone around the historic Plaza. The new location allowed them to expand their capacity and to expand their hours. Whereas everything on the menu is delicious and they have options for people who do not want chile, they are known for their green chile cheeseburger. They win the Santa Fe Reporter’s “Best of Santa Fe” burger category every year. The beef is ground daily on the premises. They form the thick patties by hand.

Favorite: Is that a rhetorical question? The green chile cheeseburger.

  • Tues. – Fri. from 11 am – 9 pm
  • Sat. from 8 am – 9 pm
  • Sun. from 8 am – 8 pm

(505) 982-0544

BREAKFAST & LUNCH

“Tecolote” is the Nahuatl (Aztec) word for “owl.” However, the cafe was named after a town about ten miles south of Las Vegas, New Mexico…not the bird. Located at 1616 St Michaels Dr., Tecolote Café was one of three restaurants that Guy Fieri visited while filming an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for the Food Network. If it seems like the Food Network spends a lot of time in Santa Fe, that perception is accurate. It is a food city and Tecolote Café is an outstanding stop, with wonderful green chile, rivaled only by Horseman’s Haven in terms of heat. Both the bakery basket and the chips and salsa are wonderful, though it is a good idea to save room for the main course.

A few favorites: Huevos yucatecos, atolé piñon pancakes, and huevos rancheros with posole.

  • Tues. – Sun. from 7 am – 2 pm for lunch
  • Thurs. – Sun. from 5 pm – 10 pm for dinner

(505) 988-1362

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Located at 1820 Cerrillos Rd, The Pantry is another venerable Santa Fe establishment. They have been serving locals and visitors for over 60 years. It is an extremely popular place. During peak times it isn’t unusual for the line to wrap around the building.

The Pantry serves classic Americana diner delights, as well as traditional New Mexican favorites. All orders are made from scratch and the portions are generous. The hand-held breakfast burrito is a go-to when passing through Santa Fe in the morning. Travel Channel’s Burger Land showcased four of New Mexico’s best green chile cheeseburgers. One of the four burgers featured was The Pantry’s Tortilla Burger, a meaty masterpiece topped with green and red chile.

A few favorites: breakfast burritos and carne adovada.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 6:30 am – 8:30 pm

(505) 986-0022

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Located at 54 Lincoln Ave on the historic Plaza, The Plaza Café is Santa Fe’s oldest restaurant. They have been serving highly acclaimed, authentic northern New Mexican cuisine since 1905. The menu is extensive and diverse, a combination of New Mexican fare, Greek specialties and American diner classics.

The Plaza Café is very popular and waits are common. Sitting on the Santa Fe Plaza, parking is often an issue. However, they have opened a second location at San Isidro Plaza on Zafarano Drive (south side of Santa Fe). The sister establishment may be younger, but they serve the same great food and remain consistent in terms of retro diner ambience. The new location is far more spacious, with shorter wait time (or none), and ample parking. The dessert case is consistently tantalizing.

A few favorites: green chile meatloaf, calabacitas, breakfast burrito, huevos rancheros, blue corn piñon pancakes, and prickly pear horchata.

  • Mon. – Sun. from 7 am – 9 pm

(505) 982-1664

LUNCH & DINNER

The Shed is located on the Santa Fe Plaza at 113 1/2 E. Palace Ave. In 2003, the restaurant was recognized by the James Beard Foundation’s for the “America’s Classics Award,” a prestigious accolade honoring locally owned and operated regional restaurants that have withstood the test of time and are esteemed in their communities. The Shed certainly qualifies, with the third generation of the same family at the helm since the restaurant opened on July 4, 1953.

The Shed occupies a property that was once a rambling adobe hacienda, built around 1692. They excel at northern New Mexican cuisine and the places oozes with Santa Fe charm and hospitality. Red chile is ground every day in the restaurant’s mills to prevent oxidization and ensure freshness.

A few favorites: blue corn enchiladas, carne adovada, and green chile stew.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 11 am – 2:30 pm for lunch and 5 pm – 9 pm for dinner

(505) 982-9030

BREAKFAST & LUNCH

Located near the Santa Fe Plaza at 210 W San Francisco St., Tia Sophia’s is an authentic, hole-in-the-wall, cozy, diner experience. They have been serving traditional northern New Mexican cuisine to locals and visitors for over forty years. To say they have ‘regulars’ would be an understatement. Though they are near the busy shops and restaurants of the plaza, this family owned restaurant remains low-key, with friendly service, fast, delicious food, and reasonable prices. Tia Sophia’s red and green chile “sauces” were showcased on an episode of Food Paradise, aired on the Travel Channel. All of their entrees are served with sopapillas (as it should be).

A few favorites: huevos rancheros (blue corn tortillas), breakfast burritos, chorizo, carne adovada, blue corn chicken enchiladas and sopapillas.

  • Mon. – Sat. from 7 am – 2 pm,
  • Sun. from 8 am – 1 pm

(505) 983-9880

LUNCH & DINNER

Tomasita’s is a local favorite, relying on recipes that have been passed down through the family, racking up culinary accolades and recognition as the year’s roll by. Tomasita’s has been featured on the Food Network and in Bon Appetit magazine. They serve over 80,000 pounds of New Mexico grown chile yearly. There is a sign about the heat of the chile posted at the door, though that seems overblown to my taste buds. It isn’t that hot. In addition to good food, the service is outstanding, the portions are reasonable to shareable and the prices are fair, particularly considering Santa Fe prices.

Located near the Rail Yards at 500 S Guadalupe St., the building was originally the southern terminus of the Chile Line railroad, constructed in 1904.

A few favorites: enchiladas, carnitas antonio, tamales and carne adovada.

  • Mon. – Thurs. from 11 am – 9 pm
  • Fri. & Sat. from 11 am – 10 pm

(505) 983-5721

BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER

Located at 1115 Hickox St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, Tune-Up café was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in an episode called “Neighborhood Favorites.” The cozy, casual atmosphere does not reflect on the quality of the food. Everything is tasty, with ample gluten free options for diners with dietary considerations.

Tune Up Café is a great place for brunch, though the weekends can get busy, often with a wait. I have an affinity for the green chile cheeseburger. Tune-Up Café grinds its beef daily, cooking it to order, and serving it on a sesame seed covered brioche bun instead of a flimsy, boring bun. One critique…the chile isn’t hot enough. It is fine for tourists, but for locals, who want more zing, the chile is a bit tame.

A few favorites: banana leaf-wrapped tamales, mole burrito, chile rellenos, and the green chile stew.

  • Mon. – Fri. from 7 am – 10 pm
  • Sat. & Sun. from 8 am – 10 pm

(505) 983-7060.

Need Chile?

If you live in an area where chile isn’t commonly served, you can order outstanding frozen green or red chile from the Hatch Chile Store. They have mild to hot varieties available. Each package is 1 pound, which is approximately 2 cups. Check out our selection of recipes for ideas.

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