Its signature windmill still spins along the highway like it did when Eldorado was mostly ranch land, but as it now holds more than 2,500 homes and a smattering of businesses, the community has become more than just spacious bedroom estates for people who do most of their shopping and eating out in Santa Fe. The 2010 census put the population for the subdivision at 6,100, and that's not counting surrounding areas that are just a stitch more rural. It feels to us like the region's restaurateurs seem to finally be settling in with a critical mass. Now, some are even drawing diners from the city instead of vice versa.
Renée Fox and Dave Readyhough opened a new restaurant in the summer of 2017 at the Agora Center. It's a spot that has long been a revolving door of short-lived concepts—but this time, it seems like it will stick.
Arable (7 Avenida Vista Grande, Ste. B-6, 303-3816) is a 46-seat restaurant that's gained a loyal following from both patrons of the couple's Loyal Hound in Santa Fe and from Eldorado's residents. Fox says it's also because of a willingness to ride out the first year with vigor.
"I think you have to have a commitment to what you are doing, to what your vision is and be able to respond to the community," she says. "Like, our logo is a pig, but people come in here with the expectation of having, like, an expansive vegan selection. … So, we altered the menu to make sure that we were being inclusive, regardless of if that's our eating style or not. Because that is who is out here. So we want to be able to feed everybody as much as possible."
The Tuesday to Saturday dinner crowd, she says, is steady, but they're still working on luring brunchers.
Nearby, Harry's Roadhouse (96 B Old Las Vegas Hwy., 989-4629) isn't exactly in Eldorado, but lays claim as one of the closest long-term food and drink providers. The sprawling restaurant's brunch game remains strong. It also recently enclosed its front porch patio, adding more tables that serve as overflow for the nearly-always-a-waitlist favorite that's been in business for about 25 years.
Café Fina (624 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 466-3886) operates from the site of a former Fina gas station for brunch and dinner, too, but it's not a hole in the wall. Watch for the friendly restaurant cat who lounges all over the place, including on SFR's distribution box outside. Eldorado's other shopping center, La Tienda, is home to La Plancha (7 Caliente Road, 466-2060), serving food with Salvardoran flare for more than five years.
Two pizza joints are also on offer, and both are have operations that are popular inside the city limits. The Agora location for Pizza Centro (7 Avenida Vista Grande, 466-3161) was actually Nathan Aufrichtig's first of what became three storefronts; others are downtown and on the Southside. While having competition from Upper Crust (5 Colina Drive, 471-1111) is new in the last few years, he's not concerned it will be adverse. With about four employees, Pizza Centro opens Wednesday through Sunday and is going on 10 years in business.
Aufrichtig has weathered the storms of opening up shop with a limited pool of customers. "It's a small community," he says. "A new place opens up and it hits you for about six months and then it goes right back to the way it was. It's a little up and down."
The reason his shop stays up? "People know good taste."