Best New Mexican Food in Santa Fe - Where the Locals Eat

Where the Locals Eat

The chile at Santa Fe staples La Choza, The Shed and Maria’s is not to be missed, but there’s something to be said for a little less ambiance, a few fewer tourists and a little more down-home authenticity.

Rub shoulders with the locals at these far-from-the-Plaza hidden gems. They're so tasty, they should be on any chile head's bucket list.

 

Horseman’s Haven

This green-chile Mecca, located behind a gas station off of Cerrillos Road, opened in 1960 and has remained a hotspot ever since. The interior is nothing to shout about. A dozen-odd booths and about as many tables flank a no-frills diner-style bar. But staffers are friendly and on any given day the place is packed with regulars.

At The Haven, “Red or Green?” is a two-part question. Order green, and you’ll have to pick between Level 1 and Level 2, the former being spicier than most and the latter being hell-fire hot. Level 2 is so intense, in fact, that even hard-core chile heads often shy away from it.

If you go
Horseman’s Haven
4354 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Phone:            (505) 471-5420
Hours:             M-Sat, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
                        Sunday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Don’t miss:     The green chile

 

Posa’s El Merendero

Tamales are the name of the game at this Santa Fe institution on Rodeo Road. Posa’s first opened in 1956 and has remained a family-run operation ever since. There are a few locations around town, but at the Rodeo Road facility diners can view tamale production through a wall-to-wall window looking out onto Posa’s factory facility. The company ships tamales nationwide. The masa-encased delicacies also are on the menu at a handful of top-notch Santa Fe restaurants.

Go for the traditional red-chile pork -- or for something unique, try the vegan option. It's loaded with calabacitas -- a traditional mix of squash, corn and onions.

If you go
Posa’s El Merendero
1514 Rodeo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone:                        (505) 820-7672
Hours:             M-Sat, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
                        Sunday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Don’t miss:     The tamales. Especially the red chile pork and vegan varietals.

 

PC’s Restaurant and Lounge

PC’s is where politicians go when they want to put off a laid-back, “from here” vibe. This family-run joint near the busy intersection of Rodeo and Cerrillos roads has a little something on the menu for every one. But its New Mexican food stands out.

The green chile stew is spicy, savory and flavorful. The red chile, smooth and rich. This is no-frills dining at its best. Want a low-key place to watch the big game? Get your chile fix while cheering on your team. PC’s features a bar and several big screens.

If you go
PC’s Restaurant and Lounge
4220 Airport Road
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Phone:                        (505) 473-7164
Hours:             11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Don’t miss:     Green chile stew
                       Chicharron burrito (It’s straight-up massive.)
                       Stuffed sopaipilla

 

Rancho de Chimayo

This more than 100-year-old family home-turned-restaurant is a 45-minute haul from Santa Fe, but it’s not to be missed. Winner of the 2016 James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award, it’s cozy home cooking at its best. The red chile is especially exceptional – it’s from Chimayo, after all.

Some of the best red chile in the world comes from Chimayo, a fertile town of some 3,000 residents nestled in the Chimayo Valley beneath the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo range. While you’re there, be sure to check out the beautiful Santuario de Chimayo, an adobe chapel built in 1816. Every Good Friday, tens of thousands of pilgrims descend on the church to give thanks to Santo Nino, a statue of the Baby Jesus revered in Spain, Latin America – and Northern New Mexico.

If you go
Rancho de Chimayo
300 Juan Medina Road
Chimayo, NM 87522
Phone:                        (505) 351-4444
Hours:             T-Sun, 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (November through April)
                        M-Sun, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. (May through October)
Don’t miss: The ultimate New Mexican meal: Blue corn carne adovada enchiladas with red chile sauce and an over-medium egg on top. Just like abuelita made.

Sarah Graham