French food with a conservative kick of chile here and there is what makes Ristra so irresistibly different. Chef Xavier Grenet stuffs delicate squash blossoms with Boursin cheese and serves them with a restrained red chile

beurre blanc

. The crispy calamari arrives with an aïoli barely touched by lavender-a flavor that can easily overwhelm.

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The apricot/

pasilla

chile sauce on a grilled duck breast is such a perfect match that it will remind you why you love dining out in Santa Fe. Do not miss the appetizer of mussels in a broth touched with smoky chipotle and bright mint; it is a masterpiece. The light and airy dining rooms in this converted bungalow bear no trace of a kitchen fire that closed the restaurant briefly in 2006, and the still-new bar at the back of the building has become a popular, more casual room for drinks or dinner. The entire menu is served in the dimly lit, high-ceilinged bar, where the service is quick and friendly. Outside, there are a few quiet tables on the river rock-faced porch and more spread out under a ramada.

548 Agua Fria St., 982-8608,

. Dinner nightly. $$$