Best Places to Live

Santa Fe, NM

Population: 83,008
Photo: Eric Swanson

Santa Fe, NM is one of the best food cities in America. Innovative Southwestern cooking reigns in Santa Fe, where the chile pepper plays a starring role in many recipes. Santa Fe's restaurants complement the city's vast art scene, with chefs creating combinations of flavors and dishes that often look too good to eat. A recent culinary awakening brings Santa Fe routine accolades from national food critics. Foodies flock to this desert oasis for everything from burritos, barbecue and burgers to Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine.

The tables at Restaurant Martin become mini galleries of food art prepared by Chef Martin Rios, who serves progressive, colorful arrangements of vegetables, sauces, seafood and meat.

Chef Mark Kiffin, winner of the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef of the Southwest 2005, rejuvenated The Compound Restaurant, a prominent eatery in the 1960s, by creating a menu layered with bold, contemporary flavors.

Intimate Spanish tapas pair with fine European wines at La Boca, a restaurant rarely less than full to capacity. Chefs at Café Pasqual's, The Shed and Maria's New Mexican Kitchen carefully craft dishes with a delicate blend of spices, sweetness and zest.

People can pick up regional wines, grassfed meats, fresh produce, eggs and honey year round at Santa Fe Farmers Market. Cooking schools like the Santa Fe Culinary Academy, Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe, and the Santa Fe School of Cooking teach aspiring chefs the ins and outs of preparing fine meals.

 

See where Santa Fe ranked on these lists:

Top 10 Cities for Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Top 10 Cities for Historic Preservation

Top 10 Romantic Cities