Last evening, being alone but with a book, I decided to try a "newish" restaurant in Santa Fe within the recently refurbished Hotel St. Francis. The hotel is located diagonally across the street from the well known and well regarded Cafe Pasqual.
The restaurant is called Tabla de Los Santos and I had an excellent meal.
The Executive Chef is Estevan Garcia, a New Mexico native who established himself 20 + years ago when partnered with another chef, John Sedlar in a Manhattan Beach restaurant called St. Estephe. Back then, I ate and entertained often at St Estephe.
While Mark Miller was defining southwestern cuisine at Coyote Cafe here in Santa Fe, Garcia and Sedlar were doing their part in California. All three in there own way brought Southwest food and flavors to serious eaters throughout the west and raised expectations way beyond the then prevalent Mexican restaurants featuring "combination plates".
Time has past, St. Estephe closed; Sedlar remains in southern California with two highly acclaimed restaurants and Garcia is running the show here at the Hotel St. Francis.
Tabla de Los Santos being in a hotel is, of course, competing with the top tier restaurants so often asked about on ChowHound by people who will be visiting and who are seeking a defining experience. (Geronimo, Coyote Cafe, Ristra, Nostrani Ristorante, Bistro 315, Casa Sena, etc.).
I did not order extravagantly or adventurously... I just wanted a competent, good meal... and a few glasses of wine.
I had a plate of three different crostini first, then a salad and a grilled pork chop entree that was -simply - great. I believe the crostini were $9, the salad $8 or $9 and the pork chop $29. These prices, while not inexpensive, are slightly below the typical prices at the restaurants mentioned above.
Below is a link to the Hotel St. Francis website from which one can look over the menus.
I will certainly return to try several of the more traditional, and authentic - if fancy - New Mexican dishes Garcia has put on these menus. I'm told that the new owners of the hotel specifically sought out Garcia to do something atypical of the usual hotel menus. They wanted something more authentically New Mexican.
Passover and the approaching Easter Holidays had the town very busy last night. Tabla de Los Santos was a table or two shy of being full and the adjacent bar and lounge where food can also be ordered was jammed.
A note on the interesting wine list... there are NO American wines on the list but for four made here in New Mexico. That will surprise many and probably frustrate some, too. Every wine is from either Spain, Argentina or Chile... and Italy.
The wines are all good and reasonably well known. Know that wine in New Mexico must be handled by a distributor in order to be served. Restaurants cannot go outside of the distributor system to secures wines they wish to serve just as I as a consumer cannot pay a corkage fee and bring my own bottle into a restaurant to enjoy with someone else's food.
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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