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Santa Fe's culinary scene populated by gastronomic maestros

13 Jan 2014 8:01 PM
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As fine dining has long been a favorite activity of many affluent individuals, numerous major metropolitan areas nationwide now feature a plethora of gourmet restaurants where patrons can enjoy feasting on cutting-edge cuisine created by innovative chefs using fresh ingredients. One such city that has witnessed a resurgence in its gourmet offerings during recent years is Santa Fe, New Mexico. With its southwestern location, exquisite scenery and cultural diversity, area gourmands have flocked to the region's unique culinary scene, which is considered second to none by many residents, as well as visitors. 

If you are planning an extended tour of the Land of Enchantment's capital city in the coming year, you would be remiss to let the opportunity to dine at one of the following establishments pass you by, as they have been repeatedly recognized by locals and lauded by critics for their refined flavors and distinct dishes. 

Geronimo
Boasting an upscale aesthetic, the ambiance this restaurant creates for diners serves as the perfect venue to showcase the distinct food items produced in the kitchen. Located on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, this elegant "Borrego House" was constructed in 1756 by Geronimo Lopez, and features thick adobe walls, exposed wooden beams and stylish kiva fireplaces. Eric DiStefano, who serves as both a managing partner and the executive chef, regularly works closely with the restaurant's chef du cuisine Paul Novak to create what they call a "global eclectic" menu, which changes as frequently as the seasons.

Popular orders here include the pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras and fujisaki Asian pear salad, as well as the Vermont maple-scented teriyaki Scottish salmon, green miso sea bass and peppery elk tenderloin with applewood-smoked bacon. These dishes, and other intricate dinners are offered nightly, but for those individuals seeking an even more intimate experience than that which the main dining rooms and chic lounge provide, private spaces are also available. To view the complete menu, or make reservations for an upcoming meal, visit the establishment's official website.

The Compound
Another fixture along Santa Fe's Canyon Road is known simply as The Compound. This restaurant has been highly regarded for its distinctive style and elegance since the 1960s, and to this day, maintains a heritage that is rich in history as well as regional influences. With a menu curated by chef Mark Kiffin - one of the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chefs of the Southwest" - the list of offered items serves to preserve the business' tradition of providing fine foods in a comfortable setting with quality service. 

Dishes most often ordered here range in variety substantially, as the orange-roasted beet salad, muscovy duck breast and wild mushrooms with organic stone-ground polenta are all popular. As the largest free-standing, fine dining establishment in the city, the location doubles as a comprehensive venue for wedding celebrations, corporate events and social gatherings. Private dining is available for patrons hoping to make their visit an even more memorable experience. 

Restaurant Martin
Founded by chef Martin Rios and his wife Jennifer, this restaurant on Galisteo Street in Santa Fe has been named as one of the city's 10 best by USA Today, and routinely offers its guests the chance to experience sensual flavors, vibrant colors and pleasing dish presentations. A true embodiment of the hard work Rios has put into the business, the intricate dishes offered to diners represent the formal training he received at the Culinary Institute of America, as well as the tricks he picked up during the last 20 years he spent an executive chef at some of the country's finest restaurants and hotels. 

As Rios has been honored as Chef of the Year by both the City of Santa Fe and State of New Mexico on multiple occasions, a visit to this establishment - whether for brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert - is a sure bet on a good time. Popular meals include tempura blue point oysters, New Zealand venison, Berkshire pork chops, truffled orzo mac and cheese as well as the delicious vegetarian tasting plate.

Fuego Restaurant
As a beloved fine dining establishment for years, this upscale restaurant located within the La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa on East Palace Avenue has continuously provided its patrons with interesting flavor combinations and rich textures that are representative of the state's history. As one of the area's premier eateries, the interior atmosphere is contemporary yet classic, and creates an accommodating atmosphere in which to enjoy a meal. 

Having received numerous awards and designations, the cuisine speaks for itself, and never disappoints. Diners often order locally inspired dishes such as the smoked Portobello and black bean gorditas as well as the green chile relleno burgers, pepita pesto chicken and cold avocado cucumber soup. To view the other award-wining offerings, or to make a reservation, visit the resort's official website.