Chef Xavier Grenet gives his traditional French food a twist by incorporating New Mexican flavors, something that is all too rare on Santa Fe's upscale menus. His tender mussels in a delicate broth flavored with chipotle and mint deliver a surprisingly delicious contrast between smoky heat and the bright, cool mint. The arugula and fig salad perfectly pairs sweet figs with silky goat cheese, crunchy yucca chips and peppery arugula. At dinner, it is refreshing to see the chef isn't afraid of vegetables; lima beans, okra, cauliflower, cabbage and cactus paddles reassure you that this is a place that caters to adventurous, grown-up palates. Many of the menu's appetizers (like the mussels and fig salad) are also available in Ristra's new bar, a high-ceilinged room tacked on to the old Victorian that has housed the restaurant for years. Although the bar lacks the charm of Ristra's cozy dining rooms, or the breezy ambiance of the shady front patio, it does offer a convenient place to meet friends for a drink and enjoy Grenet's food in smaller, less expensive portions.
548 Agua Fria St., 982-8608. Dinner nightly. $$$