There's over 400 restaurants in this town, so to just pick a Top 10 and call it a day won't cut it.

Every year, we send our team into the depths of the dining scene to—you won't guess it—eat, and eat our hearts out we did.

This list is the result of hours of hard work—we had to be seated and served by gracious waiters, read menus, make a few hard choices, and finally gorge ourselves on the best appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks around. We can't imagine anyone else would want to have as much fun as we did, so we compiled the highlights.

When all's said and done, we still ran out of room to rave, so check out the comprehensive restaurant directory and start planning your own adventure.

Arable

BBQ pork nachos with Talus Wind braised BBQ pork over corn chips and melted cheeses
BBQ pork nachos with Talus Wind braised BBQ pork over corn chips and melted cheeses | Joy Godfrey

Chef Renee Fox isn't messing around. One bite of the asparagus soup with buffalo bone marrow broth and spinach is enough to make you remember that for the rest of dinner. It was the soup of the night on our visit ($5), and we could have easily taken home a quart. Fox and her partner Dave Readyhough are holding it down with a single dining room and patio at the Agora shopping center in Eldorado now that they've sold Loyal Hound in the city. Arable has almost zero curb appeal, as it faces a mall courtyard rather than a curb—but it has all kinds of table appeal. Our dinner included an order of what's becoming the famous bison "poutine," ($19.50) made with house-cut fries and a gravy of red wine and red chile, and recently featured in a cable TV food show. The BBQ chicken entree came with a side of coleslaw that we're still thinking about—tangy and acidic from its combination of apples and citrus mixed with the starring cabbage ($17.50). Do you know what budino is? We're huge fans of pudding, and yes, it's what it sounds like, Italian for those sweet gooey puddles. Arable's butterscotch budino is served in an unassuming glass jar for maximum scrapability ($6.50). Don't let Guy Fieri enjoy this local food more than you do. (Julie Ann Grimm)

7 Avenida Vista Grande, B-6, 303-3816
Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, Brunch weekends
Arablesantafe.com

Cafe Castro

Triple enchilada with Christmas style chile
Triple enchilada with Christmas style chile | Joy Godfrey

Printed on coffee mugs, among little Spanish musings that read, "full belly—happy heart" and "a little green chile every day keeps you healthy," Café Castro proclaims its mission: "Serving la gente of Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico since 1990." From a little spot on the bustling six-lane road, Julia and Carlos Castro serve some of the most rib-sticking traditional New Mexican food around at prices for the people. The dining room is clad in vigas and traditional art, alongside community events posters and local artists' work. Of course, start off with chips and salsa ($3), queso ($5), guac ($6) or all three ($8.50); the queso comes with huge chunks of green chile begging to be scooped. Enchiladas ($8.50), the state dish, find themselves in their rightful position at the top of the menu, and because we went on a Wednesday, we were treated to the blue-corn variety ($8.50) served with a trifecta of beans, rice and posole. Find different traditional specials every day of the week, like fajitas (Tuesdays, $9.50), carne adovada (Thursdays, $8.50) and flautas (Sundays, $9.50). The green chile sauce includes more of those huge chunks and tastes super fresh, while the red is smoky, pungent and just spicy enough. The Castros provide a down-to-earth restaurant that's far from the pretentious food scene but still provides top-notch service. (Cole Rehbein)

2811 Cerrillos Road, 473-5800
Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday
cafecastrosf.com

Cleopatra’s Cafe

Luxor lamb kabob with two grilled spiced lamb kabobs, onions, green peppers, rice, tatziki and Greek salad
Luxor lamb kabob with two grilled spiced lamb kabobs, onions, green peppers, rice, tatziki and Greek salad | Joy Godfrey

After ages spent as Santa Fe's go-to Mediterranean restaurant in the Design Center building, Cleopatra spread to the Southside some years back, and both locations still boast some of the best dishes in town. Start with the creamy hummus ($5.50) served with warm pita, or an order of spanakopita ($6.95) with lettuce, tomato, feta and olives; or maybe some savory dolmas ($5.50) before making your way to items like the massive falafel sandwich ($6.95)—an enticing combination of flavors with falafel that's slightly chewy on the inside, satisfyingly crunchy on the outside. Mediterranean faithful will find plenty of other familiar dishes as well—like the lamb or chicken gyros ($7.95) and baba ghanauge ($5.50), but Cleopatra also does a popular burger ($9.95; add $.70 for cheese) and, if you didn't know, has great fries. It doesn't stop there, as you'll find larger, shareable dishes like the Nile and Pharaoh plates ($11.95 and $12.95), gyro meat with pita and salad and boneless marinated chicken with rice and veggies respectively, not to mention a kid's menu with familiar standbys like chicken nuggets and smaller Mediterranean items for kids out to try something different. There's a different atmosphere to each location, and it really just depends on what your day's going like. (Alex De Vore)

418 Cerrillos Road, 820-7381
3482 Zafarano Drive, 474-5644
cleopatrasantafe.com

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen

The Skinny Burger Served with red patatas bravas
The Skinny Burger Served with red patatas bravas | Joy Godfrey

Dr. Field Goods walks a fine line between hard rock dive, down-home diner and neighborhood pub offering creative, locally-sourced, seasonal dishes. Indeed, when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives made a recent pass through the city, the crew stopped at Dr. Field Goods, reportedly for a taste of its Bad Ass BLT ($14.50 + $1.50 egg), a burly 9-ounce house cured and smoked, then wood-fired, patty of bacon topped with special sauce, heirloom tomatoes, and lettuce. Whatever your interpretation, chef Josh Gerwin's is solid cooking with casual, inventive dishes aimed to fill. The kimchi patatas bravas ($10.50), hunks of fried potato slathered in a miso aioli and house-made kimchi are warm, spicy and filling, as are the vegetable egg rolls ($6.50), baby's arm-sized and filled with crunchy veggies and a delectable dipping sauce of miso and peanut. The signature New Mexican sandwich ($14) bursts from a pillowy, house-made bun, with a more-than-ample filling of green-chile-rubbed smoked pulled pork (from the Dr. Field Goods butcher shop a few doors down). A tart apple and jicama slaw topping provides texture and acid. Pizzas and enchiladas come flaming hot from the wood-fired oven anchoring the kitchen, and for those looking to walk a healthier line, the kale salad ($13.50) is served nicely warmed with generous helpings of fingerling potatoes, roasted beets, grilled Brussels sprouts, and rich miso vinaigrette. (Zibby Wilder)

2860 Cerrillos Road, 471-0043
Lunch and dinner daily
drfieldgoods.com
Twitter: @DrFieldGoods_NM
Insta: @drfieldgoods

Dolina

Langos, Slovakian street food fried bread with garlic butter, arugula, tomato confit and warm burrata
Langos, Slovakian street food fried bread with garlic butter, arugula, tomato confit and warm burrata | Joy Godfrey

Dolina is chef/owner Annamaria O'Brien's ode to the culinary riches of her homeland, Slovakia, where the food was fresh and plentiful, vegetables plucked from her grandmother's garden, and animals raised by hand. Organic ingredients dominate, with the bulk of Dolina's produce grown specifically for the restaurant on a friend's farm. This straightforward approach of simplifying ingredients to focus on freshness and flavor is evident in every dish on the menu. Lighter fare ranges from airy ricotta pancakes ($11) with berries and, of course, real maple syrup, to a spirit-pleasing bone broth morning soup ($10.50). More substantial dishes on the menu include fried chicken and waffles ($12.50), and a breakfast burrito ($8.50), the gluten-free version creatively offered in a jar. Some of Dolina's most delightful dishes boast Eastern European influences. There's savory, satisfying, paprikash ($15) topped with freshly baked dumplings, and langos ($13), a traditional Slovakian street food and the kin of fry bread. Borscht ($11.50) even makes an appearance, made even earthier with the addition of potatoes, sauerkraut, hard-boiled egg and herbed yogurt. Since you're likely to have a trek to wherever you parked your car (the location's parking issues are legendary), be sure to stop at the fresh case on your way out and partake of the beautiful baked goods to keep you company. I satisfied myself with Mexican wedding cookies ($1.50 each), a slice of summer Bavarian cake ($6) and banana cream pie ($6). Obviously, I had a long walk. (ZW)

402 N Guadalupe St., 982-9394
Breakfast and lunch daily
dolinasantafe.com
Insta: @dolinasantafe

Dumpling Tea & Dim Sum

Veggie fried dumplings
Veggie fried dumplings | Joy Godfrey

If there was one word Fen Weng, owner and chef of Dumpling Tea & Dim Sum, could say to you about her little restaurant, tucked in a back corner of the Plaza Galeria, it would be "homemade." Weng, a native of Dalian, China, has made an art of homemade Chinese comfort foods—from potstickers to dumplings, noodles to soup buns. Her expertise, as well as that of her staff, is on full display at the entry of this small space (which, coincidentally, expanded within its first two months of business). Place an order and watch as the dough is hand-rolled, filled and formed just minutes before the finished product appears on a plate before you. Menu choices are simple, basically selecting between pork, shrimp, or vegetarian, steamed or fried (ranging from $7.99 to $9.99). You can't go wrong with any of the dumplings or soup buns; all come expertly cooked, filled with crunchy, lovingly seasoned chunks of pork and/or veggies. The noodles are also homemade and the spicy dan dan variety ($7.99) are a favorite, with noodles, salty pork and crisp veggies swimming in generous sauce ("Sauce, not soup!" Weng will tell you). Don't be shy about over-ordering. You won't be the only one. (ZW)

66 E San Francisco St. #10, 646-945-5000
Lunch and dinner daily
dumplingtea.wixsite.com

Eloisa

Ruby red trout with pan fried trout, Peruvian pepper sauce, calabacita risotto and arugula
Ruby red trout with pan fried trout, Peruvian pepper sauce, calabacita risotto and arugula | Joy Godfrey

An upscale take on coming home to grandma's house, Eloisa greets guests with a shiny open kitchen at the head of the restaurant, a cool, huge dining room and unassuming table settings, right down to blue china plates that could be straight out of Gram's cupboard. Located in the Drury Plaza Hotel just east of the St. Francis Cathedral, the menu is divided into four sections: Puebloan Native American, Spanish Colonial, Western/Territorial, and Mestizo, reflecting the culinary traditions of New Mexico's past. The Zuni tamalli ($14) with nixtamal masa, smoked trout and horseradish crema is one of the more unique offerings, and for something more savory, the pastrami tacos ($14) come in mini blue-corn shells and are plated on a photo of chef John Sedlar's Grandma Eloisa herself. The grilled venison chop ($36) pays homage to our mountain communities with super smooth mashed potatoes and roasted carrots, while Eloisa's red chile in the chile-braised brisket ($32) is made with a New Mexico cabernet and makes us wish some auntie was around to jot the recipe down on an index card for us. And you can't leave grandma's house without cookies; the biscochitos ($9) are served with popcorn-flavored ice cream and stir up the fondest feelings of nostalgia. (CR)

228 E Palace Ave., 982-0883
Lunch Monday-Friday; dinner daily; Sunday brunch
eloisasantafe.com
Instagram: @eloisasantafe_

El Milagro

Chicken guac taco plate with green chile chicken and topped with guacamole
Chicken guac taco plate with green chile chicken and topped with guacamole | Joy Godfrey

It might just be a miracle that you can still sit down in a place like El Milagro Restaurant and enjoy a green chile cheeseburger of this caliber for $6.95—including home fries. We know it's cliché, but we almost didn't want to tell you about this deal. The Southside eatery is located in the shopping center that also houses the Regal Stadium 14 movie theater, where mother and son duo Anthony and Frances Armijo have been at it for more than a decade. Its menu is practically bigger than the dining room and includes every New Mexican favorite you're looking for. Fast service means you won't miss your show, or you can get back to your day without too much fuss. For something different, we recommend the spicy cream of potato soup, made exciting with toppings of real bacon and a hot twist of chopped green chile, and served with a few fresh fried tortilla wedges ($4.25 cup). It's one of six soups on the menu, just to show off how much there really is to choose from. If you've taken a friend or two, share a sopaipilla sundae for dessert. They come in caramel cinnamon with whipped cream and strawberry with more strawberry ($6.50). (JAG)

3842 Zafarano Drive, Ste. C, 474-2888
Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, Lunch only on Sunday
elmilagrosantafe.com

Jambo Café

Moroccan lamb stew slow cooked with chickpeas, raisins, apricots and sweet potatoes, with curried couscous
Moroccan lamb stew slow cooked with chickpeas, raisins, apricots and sweet potatoes, with curried couscous | Joy Godfrey

Having just celebrated its 10th year in business, famed Afro-Caribbean fusion eatery Jambo is riding high. Same goes for owner/chef Ahmed Obo, a mainstay in SFR's Best of Santa Fe issue over the last decade and, as pretty much everyone agrees, as talented and creative a chef as can be. Jambo's menu is tight and focused, but still somehow it runneth over with enticing combinations to sample each time you visit. Looking for curry? Try the coconut organic tofu curry with tomatoes and basmati rice ($13.95). Goat? Jambo's Caribbean goat stew ($13.95) with carrots, potatoes and island curry drops jaws on the regular. Ditto the island spiced coconut peanut stew ($13.95), a dish that a dining companion once told us they had been "dreaming about." Then there are the appetizers, sandwiches, salads and desserts—from which we cannot recommend enough items like cinnamon dusted plantains ($5.95) and the banana coconut cream pie ($6.95). This is only just the beginning, of course, and other dishes beckon, be they kebabs, other stews or shrimp served with a sauce of East African coconut and tomato hot spice. Just do yourselves a favor and make sure to order the mixed fries ($5.95)—a tempting combination of cumin-dusted and sweet potato fries. (ADV)

2010 Cerrillos Road, 473-1269
Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday
Jambocafe.net
Twitter: @JamboSF

Harry’s Roadhouse

Lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh strawberries
Lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh strawberries | Joy Godfrey

Each of the rooms in Harry's Roadhouse has its own personality. There's the formica and silver of the entryway to the kitchen, the fireplace nicho in the front of the bar with intimate two-tops, the family style dining room, and the narrow window ledges of the back hall that pour onto the rear patio. And now, the front patio that faces I-25, the road part of the roadhouse, is also enclosed. Diners hit up Harry's no matter their mood, as the restaurant is serving up three meals a day with from-scratch favorites all week. On a health kick? No problem, we applaud you for leaving that last piece of banana cream pie ($5.95) for us. The menu's standards have lots of vegetable forward dishes. Once we had a special seasonal beet Neapolitan with goat cheese and herbs that blew us away with its artistry and flavor. The transplanted writer of this review can attest to the general authenticity and goodness of both Harry's smoky St. Louis-style ribs ($15.95) and his scrapple, a homemade version of a Pennsylvania Dutch sausage with cornmeal (order it at breakfast a la cart for $3.75). Don't miss legendary bloody marys that we hear tell have come from the same recipe for nearly 20 years ($8). They're loaded with horseradish and Marie Sharp's hot sauce. But don't forget the pie. (JAG)

96 B Old Las Vegas Highw, 989-4629
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
harrysroadhousesantafe.com
Insta: @harrysroadhouse

Palacio Cafe

Steak tacos with sirloin steak strips, Cojita cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and chile
Steak tacos with sirloin steak strips, Cojita cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and chile | Joy Godfrey

This small space on the outskirts of the Plaza dishes up New Mexican favorites, and some of Santa Fe's finest spicy chile, along with time-tested 'merican diner classics. Being one of the few restaurants open for service in the wee hours, beginning at 7:30am, Palacio Cafe's breakfast burritos ($8-9) are among the best, and biggest, in town. Breakfast tacos are a good option if you are eating in ($9) as are American breakfast standards, including waffles ($8), eggs Benedict ($9.50) and even French toast ($8.50). The long list of options—both New Mexican and American comfort food—extends to the lunch menu. Daily specials can include tamales and a spot-on Frito pie, while regular menu items range from a veggie enchilada plate and a smothered chicharron and bean burrito (both $10.50) to deli-style sandwiches, such as a straight-up classic tuna salad sandwich on wheat bread ($9), and large salads including an oft-ordered pear salad piled high with candied pecans and crumbled blue cheese ($9). Palacio Cafe's homemade foods play to the needs of all who are hungry: locals and visitors, adults and kids, those who can take the heat, and those who can't; all of which are reasons why you'll frequently find a line out the door that's most definitely worth waiting in. (ZW)

209 E Palace Ave., 989-3505
227 Don Gaspar Ave., 820-7888
Breakfast and lunch Wednesday-Monday; closed Tuesday
palaciosantafe.com
Insta: @palaciocafesf

Pizza Centro

Tomato basil pizza
Tomato basil pizza | Joy Godfrey

Pizza may just be the great culinary leveler, the one dish everyone everywhere has in common. But finding the good stuff proves elusive. Still, it's true what they say—even bad pizza is still pretty good, but great pizza, the kind you long for and exhaust your friends with tales of … well, that's a whole other can of olives. In Santa Fe, that place is Pizza Centro, an homage to New York City style that practically insists you fold your slice to eat it properly. Find those, by the way, until they sell out daily across three locations: downtown, on the Southside and in Eldorado, alongside a vast menu of creative concoctions, all running $17-$26 (before additional toppings). We're partial to the Alphabet City, a vegetarian's delight with flash-fried eggplant, mushroom, spinach, artichoke, garlic, roasted red pepper and a balsamic glaze—we also like to dip our crust in a side of the balsamic—or the Central Park with spinach, basil, garlic, sundried tomato and ricotta atop whole milk mozzarella. Centro has much for the carnivores, too, from classics like pepperoni and sausage to more fanciful orders like The Village with prosciutto, eggplant and gorgonzola. Then there's a full menu of sandwiches, hefty salads served with house made bread and, at least downtown, gelato for afterwards. (ADV)

418 Cerrillos Road, 988-8825
7 Avenida Vista Grande, Eld
orado, 466-3161
3470 Zafarano Drive Ste. D, 471-6200
Lunch and dinner daily
pizzacentronys.com
Insta: @pizza_centro

The Ranch House

House smoked wings; Southside Manhattan
House smoked wings; Southside Manhattan | Joy Godfrey

We're doing it. The Ranch House has been around long enough that we can declare it The Santa Fe BBQ Joint. Going on 14 years, with nine of them at its current location on the Southside, the spacious restaurant brings reliable, ample portions. There are so many favorites on the menu from Josh Baum and his wife, Ann Gordon that it's hard for us to narrow it to a few. If you have to pick just one thing: brisket, brisket, brisket. Baum smokes it all in Texas brown oak. Good thing, too, that one order comes with a choice of two sides ($14) and we'll make that easy too: corn bread (the kind that is moist, buttery and thick, with green chile tucked inside for flavor) and BBQ beans that make the plate even more toothsome. Start with queso waffle fries ($8) and add brisket ($3)—do you detect our theme? The menu's also loaded with salads and sammies, and one of our companions can't get enough of the steak and butter-glazed shrimp entree ($19). We can't believe there was even a conversation about dessert. We got the brownie sundae with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce anyway ($5.95). Three spoons and top pants buttons unbuttoned. (JAG)

2571 Cristo's Road, 424-8900
Lunch and dinner daily
theranchhousesantafe.com 

Santacafé

Grilled halibut with shrimp and corn tortellini, eggplant purée, mint and yogurt emulsion, and anise hyssop
Grilled halibut with shrimp and corn tortellini, eggplant purée, mint and yogurt emulsion, and anise hyssop | Joy Godfrey

A change of ownership in the late summer swept this downtown, high-end power lunch locale back into the local culinary spotlight. Its reopening just before Indian Market brought full-house crowds to the historic white-walled home and its radiant courtyard. We squeezed in at the bar and enjoyed watching as a rainbow of cocktails and aperitifs designed by new owner Quinn Stephenson sailed away. Ours was a purple-hued plum martini with spiced plum bitters and citrus ($18). We tackled the lunch choices from the single-page menu by executive chef Kelmin Rosa with a shared-plate plan, dividing up three dishes between two people: the sumptuous Talus Wind Ranch pork dumplings with a thick and savory sesame dipping sauce ($14), a side of roasted cauliflower and broccolini ($12) with a deep flavor, seasoned with garlic, parsley, chiles and vinegar, and an order of avocado tartine—that's fancy speak for toast laden with garlic cream and pickled vegetables ($12). The fancy didn't stop when we took a gander at the dessert menu ($13 each), from which we chose cookies and cream. A pile of cookies and a dollop of fresh whipped cream arrived with a small glass of milk—all atop a gold doily that was totally unnecessary given how much the cookies shined on their own. (JAG)

231 Washington Ave., 984-1788
Lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday
santacafe.com

The Teahouse

Fresh peach shortcake
Fresh peach shortcake | Joy Godfrey

It's hard to believe The Teahouse has been around for the better part of two decades. Opened by Dionne Christian (now of revived Revolution Bakery fame) in 2003, she sold the rambling old house to Rich Freedman (now of El Farol) seven years ago. Freedman has wisely kept the expertly crafted tea list, while adding drink options expanding the kitchen's offerings. The drink menu is now a whopping 10 pages, highlighted by teas ($3-$6) and crafty offerings like the Bazaar Fog ($4.50), a more international take on the London Fog. It arrives surprisingly nuanced, with subtle spice notes and not the thick, sumptuous drink imagined. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day, and the wintertime favorite spot to spend a snowy day working, sipping or lazing also offers a terrific patio, replete with fruit trees, at the top of Canyon Road. Eggs Catalan ($13.50) arrive poached on a house-made polenta set in savory Romesco sauce, and the warm green beans and squash, along with a salad, are a twist for breakfast, but at home on plate and palate. Lunch and dinner feature an assortment of salads ($14), Italian entrees such as meatloaf, lasagna and eggplant parmigiana (all $16) and salmon ($20). Dessert is highlighted by the Earl Grey creme brulee ($8). (Matt Grubs)

821 Canyon Road992-0972
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
teahousesantafe.com
Twitter: @Teahouse821
Insta: @teashouse821
>> READ MORE: 2019-2020 Restaurant Guide >>