Santa Fe dining: casual patio dining

This is the second of a three part series on outdoor dining in Santa Fe. Read part one. Read part three.

Santa Fe’s a town that loves its outdoor dining. If you want casual food and ambiance, here are some places that fit the bill. You’ll find that outside space is at a premium so prepared to wait. Even restaurants that take reservations will not promise patio seating due to limited space; they cannot predict with accuracy how fast tables will turn over. If patio seating is crucial to your Santa Fe dining experience, have a seat at the bar and sip a cool drink while you wait for your table.

The Anasazi patio on Washington Avenue Santa Fe, photo courtesy/ Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

The patio at the Anasazi Restaurant at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi offers casual dining with a casual menu. The inn’s restaurant, offering New American fusion with New Mexican accents is more formal. For a casual meat, sit on Washington Avenue and watch Santa Fe walk by. Sometimes you may even see a face you recognize. All sorts of celebs have stayed at the Anasazi over the years. Argentinian Chef Boshensk’s food is an interesting fusion of his native cuisine and creative American food and they mix a mean margarita. While the Anasazi welcomes reservations for their restaurant, patio seating is based on availability. They have full bar service.

Soaking up the sun on the front patio of The Cowgirl, photo courtesy/The Cowgirl

The Cowgirl BBQ is a popular Santa Fe spot. The large, eclectic menu runs from BBQ (smoked on-site) to Tex-Mex with lots of options in between. There are two outdoor dining areas here, the front patio and the kiddie corral in the back forty. The patio, overlooks Guadalupe Street, and is where almost everyone wants to sit in warm weather. If you are with younger children, head for the back forty. Kids (up to age seven or eight) love this small, enclosed space with picnic tables and neat things to play on. When our grandsons visited when they were younger, their first words when they got off the plane were “Kiddie corral, kiddie corral”. Their parents liked it too; they could sit and relax over margaritas and food while the kids enjoyed themselves. Cowgirl has live music in the bar most nights and sometimes there’s live music out on the patio. Reservations are recommended, especially for the kiddie corral; call (505) 982-2565. They have a full alcohol license.

Enjoying the food at Coyote Cafe’s Rooftop Cantina, photo/courtesy Coyote Cantina

Coyote Café’s Rooftop Cantina is a hopping place on summer nights; a place to see and be seen. There are tables if you are there to dine as well as bar-style seating around the roof-edge if drinking is your preference. The same Mexican-influenced menu is served all day. Coyote Café partner and Executive Chef Eric DiStefano has come up with a great, reasonably priced menu. Quinn Stephenson, another of the restaurant’s partners and bartender extraordinaire, has created great specialty drinks. The Cantina is open for lunch and dinner seasonally from mid-April to mid-October.

Santa Fe dining, Harry's Roadhouse,

Patio, Harry’s Roadhouse Cafe, photo/Steve Collins

Harry’s Roadhouse is a local legend. No matter what time you get there it’s bustling. The reasonably priced menu is eclectic, from enchiladas to steak, pizzas and burgers and lots in between. Check out the weekly specials. Sometime they’re incredible, sometime they miss the mark, but they are almost always worth a try. The busy staff is friendly and accommodating. Dining at Harry’s is always an interesting experience. The place is funky and each room has its own character. In warm weather the back yard is the place to be. Tables are set amidst lush plantings, trees and water features. Plan to wait if you want to sit out here, Harry’s does not take reservations unless you have six people or more. At mealtimes there is often a wait for inside tables, too. Word of Harry’s has spread. They were featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. If you don’t want to wait, come early or later when the crowds have thinned. The restaurant is open daily. They have full alcohol service.

Sitting in the shade onLa Choza Patio, photo courtesy/La Choza

La Choza, the sister restaurant to The Shed (featured in part two of thus post on casual patio dining), is located trackside on a small street at the western edge of the Railyard District. It has long been popular with locals. It was never as crowded as The Shed, but with the coming of a full bar license and the growing popularity of the Railyard, that’s changed. The good news is they now accept reservations. The tree-shaded patio is a wonderful oasis. Sit and enjoy a margarita and the New Mexican cuisine. Both restaurants are known for their NM chile. Order the Stacked Blue Corn Carne Adovada Enchiladas smothered in green or red chile and prepare to enjoy. Warning; taste the chile first, it can be hot. A side of sour cream will cut the heat or take a sip of beer or margarita. They accept dinner reservations and they are strongly recommended; call (505) 982-0909. They have full alcohol service.

Lunch on the patio at the Museum Hill Cafe, photo/Steve Collins

The patio at the Museum Hill Café has some of the best views in town. The café, on Millman Plaza off Camino Lejo, sits between the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Art and Culture. There are two other museum, Spanish Colonial Art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, also call Museum Home. This is a great place to dine whether you need a break while visiting the museums or just want to eat enjoying the scenery. The sunset views are spectacular. Their hours change seasonally. Serving wine and beer.

Authors’ note: As former hotel concierges and owners of a travel-related business in Santa Fe, the writers may have been guests of restaurants mentioned in this post. This generous hospitality has not influenced this post in any way.


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2 Responses to “Santa Fe dining: casual patio dining”

  1. Lance
    June 11, 2019 at 8:45 am #

    Great view of many patio dining locals in town. Thanks. I think that one left off was Caffe Greco which has by far the best patio with a view to Canyon Road and for people watching on Canyon Road. PS. They boast the ‘best frito pie in Santa Fe’
    thanks for all you do.

    • Billie Frank
      June 15, 2019 at 8:13 am #

      We left a lot out, Lance. There are so many here. I love watching people go by sitting on Canyon Road. Thanks for adding the Greco here.

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