Tiny hanging tea lights cast orange orbs onto the lavender-hued walls. Thatched wicker chairs gather around tables, round and tapered like the heels of giant boots. Though these decorative embellishments may seem bold, the Martinez family wants them to be fixtures of a much greater statement—a culinary statement, one that won Los Equipales the title of 2011's Best Mexican restaurant according to Weekly Alibi.
The Martinez family changes the menu every three weeks to focus on the specialties of a different state of their native Mexico. Homemade sauces such as sweet mole and spiced tequila cream marinate fresh fillets of red snapper, salmon, and spice-infused chicken. While waiting on sizzling plates of fajitas to cool, patrons can also ask servers about their private rooms, which accommodate up to 110 guests or 500 tapped telephones.
During peak season, 70% of Vinaigrette's fresh produce is produced in the fertile fields of owner Erin Wade's organic farm, and unfilled ingredient niches are plugged with the harvests of other organic local farmers when possible. Besides the stable of classic salad staples ($8.95–$10.95), the hearty yet healthy meals of this walk-in cornucopia include signature salads ($8.95–$15.95) such as the Bell & Cheese, where flame-kissed red and orange bell peppers make curd angels out of goat cheese in a field of fresh greens during a rain storm of ruby-port vinaigrette ($10.95). Experience the lemony-dill tang of the veggie-packed Tuna Salad Salad ($8.95), or slip south of the border with the verdant romaine and crispy red cabbage of the Salacho, peppered with seasoned beef and chorizo and doused in a vinaigrette of honey, cumin, and lime ($11.95). Besides flagship salads, Vinaigrette's chefs can whip up gourmet dinner specials including well-topped crostini ($10) or goat-cheese potato gratin ($6).
Fat Sat's Bar and Grill conjures memories of the jazz age with its 1920s-style ornamentation and murals of old-time Chicago street scenes, each hand-painted by world-renowned artist Michael Ostaski. The owners named the bar in fond remembrance of their grandfather, Uncle Saturnino Trujillo, who grew up in the era of prohibition and speakeasies. Inside the kitchen, chefs bustle day and night, twirling pastas, hand-cutting rib-eye steaks, and grilling seafood. Bartenders behind three separate bars communicate to one another by angling mirrors as they fill cups to the brim with margaritas and 14 draft beers. Nineteen flat screens beam down upon the bars and tabletops, and a fire pit blazes amid two large outdoor patios. Live bands serenade guests Thursdays through Saturdays, while Friday nights entertain guests with games, trivia, dancing, and karaoke, offering them a welcome reprieve from evenings spent thumb-wrestling their aunts.
Inspired by the seafood of the American Northwest, the culinary team at Desert Fish prepare exclusively wild-caught catches using fresh, contemporary seasonings. The cucumber-melon finish of their Shigoku oysters from Washington State’s Willapa Bay prime palates for kona coffee-crusted Hawaiian snapper or house-made gnocchi with littleneck clams and pan-roasted brussel sprouts in brown butter sauce. Behind the bar, bartenders compliment the dishes with wines and specialty cocktails mixed with fresh fruit juices and herbs, such as the Mint Mirage martini, whose basil Hayden Bourbon and fresh mint magically disappear before diners’ eyes over the course of about 20 minutes. The restaurant also serves weekend brunches, offering a diverse selection that spans from fried oysters with biscuits and gravy to crab cake Benedict.
A native of Santa Fe, Chef Charles Thompson shares his passion for traditional native cuisine with visitors. At Tabla de Los Santos, located in the Hotel St. Francis, he puts an elegant spin on traditional northern New Mexican cuisine using organic and local farm-to-table ingredients and French cooking techniques. Starting at 7 a.m., the restaurant fills with spicy aromas as his kitchen staff prepares breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch entrees. For dinner, they fire up the grill to prepare Angus rib-eye steak that has been aged 21 days as well as lamb chops accompanied by peppercorn demi-glace spinach, which the wait staff brings to indoor fireside tables or a secluded outdoor patio. For dessert his signature organic flan is made with goat’s milk from Sweetwoods Creamery.
The aromas of sizzling fajitas and marinated shrimp mingle in Mariscos Altamar?s dining room while hosts welcome diners with charming Spanish greetings. Along with the Aztec paintings, Owner Hector Hernandez?s menu, with seafood as the primary focus, hearkens back to northern Mexico where he grew up. Along with grilling steaks and spooning ranchero sauce over chiles rellenos, chefs also stuff saut?ed crabmeat into enchiladas and fry platefuls of breaded shrimp.
The dining room maintains an airy ambiance with its light wooden tones and neutral-colored walls, and an aquarium full of small fish and adorable baby Poseidons catch diners' eyes at the entrance. On Thursday and Saturday evenings and Friday afternoons, the restaurant regales guests with the lilting melodies of live musicians.