We took a stellar restaurant tour of Santa Fe this December, and I thought I'd share our reactions...
Eating at the bar, we had great experiences both at Bistro 315 and The Compound. The courses I myself chose at the Compound weren't that great (the bartender, who advised a dried-out pork loin and not-great apple dumplings, steered me wrong) but my inlaws all adored their food. My mother in law especially had a fish prepared in red wine that she raved about. And my 7 year old's Niman Ranch hot dog was great too. Altogether, the bar seems to be an inexpensive and informal (i.e., more fun) way to have a relaxed time at the Compound, and I'm sure we'll be back.
We always love Pasqual's, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. It's so great to look at, the vibe is so relaxed and friendly, and the food at its best is vibrant and imaginative without being outrageous or pretentious. A green salad I had there for lunch with a Reuben sandwich was phenomenal, and I'm a big fan of their baked brie with two salsas at dinner.
Blue Corn Cafe was only so-so. Bumblebee Diner on Jefferson was amazing value, and highly recommended. La Casa Sena on Xmas Eve was delicious: mother-in-law didn't love her food, but the rest of us really enjoyed a lobster enchilada with a really interested chilied sauce, and a steak with blue cheese crumbled on top. Setting was cozy and service (despite challenging behavior by in-laws) was great.
Casa Nostrani was excellent too. We had a very memorable panna cotta with caramel and tangerine sauce for dessert. The food's not as much my style as Pasqual's--too subtle--but ingredients and prep were essentially perfect. It's wildly expensive and a little formal, though the service is good and not unfriendly.
Hardly a bad experience, in 10 days. We are dying to go back!