Some of the best brunch spots in Santa Fe are right under our noses
What makes a brunch spot really shine? Ideally, of course, there's a menu with options hearty enough for breakfast but energizing enough as lunch. There should be a beautiful location, maybe with a gorgeous view or plenty of adjoining shops or museums to walk off the meal afterward. There should be outdoor seating, so you can wear your hangover sunglasses in peace and not look out of place. If you're so inclined, there should be cocktail options—because if you're having brunch, it should be followed by a day of rest and relaxation. This isn't your weekday breakfast, for crying out loud.
Rio Chama Steakhouse
Rio Chama is a downtown staple for brunch. Right next door to the State Capitol and a block from the Plaza, Rio Chama has plenty of parking and a cozy yet spacious interior. Slip into one of the old crinkled leather booths and enjoy a menu full of comfort food, such as catfish fish 'n' chips ($16) and blueberry flapjacks ($14) with two eggs on the side. Find plenty of lunch options at brunchtime too, such as an avocado and grapefruit salad ($15) or a buffalo burger ($16). You can even get a round of oysters on the half shell ($2 each) to go along with a mimosa ($6) or a glass of Gruet Blanc de Noir ($6), although any libation of your choosing can be made at the full bar. Best of all? The restaurant offers brunch on Saturday too, in case you need to nurse your post-Friday night hangover with a solid meal and a day of leisure.
11 am-10 pm daily
414 Old Santa Fe Trail, 955-0765
Parking is always tricky downtown, but Chez Mamou is worth the hassle on a Sunday afternoon. The quirky East Palace spot—which shares a storefront with a jewelry store, so you can get your breakfast amidst glittering displays of beaded necklaces—boasts a brunch menu full of French classics, such as a decadently bechamel-soaked croque monsieur ($10.75, $2 more upgrades it to a madame) and crepes au jambon ($11.95), served with scrambled eggs, ham and gruyere. These are some standouts in a menu of wildly decadent croissants, crepes, omelets and sandwiches that evoke shades of breakfast in Paris, especially considering the full wine list. Wine director Liroy De Lophez has curated a list chock-full of affordable, fine French wines that pair particularly well with the cuisine, especially when it comes in a range of regional sparkling styles to enjoy mid-afternoon over a croissant with ham, cheese and bechamel ($8.95).
7:30 am-9 pm daily
217 E Palace Ave., 216-1845
Museum Hill Café
At the foot of the mountains, Museum Hill Café has beautifully spacious location, a diverse menu and ample parking. The menu is light and elegant, not to mention vegetarian and gluten-free friendly, with options such as a sweet corn custard with poblano sauce ($11.95) and a red chile-flavored polenta topped with egg, cumin crema and fruit salad ($13.95). There's a few Southwestern-styled dishes such as a breakfast tostada ($11.95) and vegetarian quesadilla ($11.95), not to mention four wine and sake cocktails including a bloody mary ($7) that substitutes sake for vodka. You don't have to visit the four museums on premises to hit up Museum Hill Café, but why not start off a day of art and people-
watching with a few mimosas as an aperitif?
11 am-3 pm daily
710 Camino Lejo, 984-8900