Some of our favorite Santa Fe breakfast restaurants

This post featuring some of our favorite Santa Fe breakfast restaurants was originally published in 2012. It was updated and replublished on 8/16/16. Not much has changed!

Breakfast in Santa Fe is way more than eggs, meat and potatoes. There are truly wonderful dishes to be found. For me (and a lot of others) the thing that makes breakfast really special is chile. While you’ll find chopped green chile or red chile  inside handheld burritos, if you are dining in, you can enjoy your burritos (or any other dish) smothered in red or green chile.  This spicy sauce, made from either red or green chiles is addictive.  Green uses freshly roasted or frozen chiles; red is made from either dried chile or caribe (chile powder). People joke that the official state question in “Red or green?” It certainly is frequently asked at Santa Fe breakfast restaurants.  Which is hotter? It depends on the variety of chiles used. Ask for a taste of the chile before having food smothered in it. Too hot is not considered an excuse to return food here. If you err,  sour cream goes a long way toward cooling that heat.  Or, ask to have your chile on the side.  If you want to try both, and want to sound like a local, ask for “Christmas.” Not a fan of heat? There are lots of great and unusual dishes on Santa Fe breakfast restaurants’ menus, some with no heat in them at all. Each eatery has it’s own specialties.  Start your day at some of Santa Fe’s best breakfast restaurants.

Our favorite Santa Fe breakfast restaurants

Cafe Pasqual’s

A half order of Huevos Barbacoa at Cafe Pasquals, photo Steve Collins

A half order of Huevos Barbacoa at Cafe Pasqual’s, photo/Steve Collins

Cafe Pasqual’s, a popular eatery, has been lauded for years and it should be. Chef/owner Katherine Kagel has long supported fresh, local and organic in her small corner café in downtown Santa Fe. Breakfast here is a tradition with locals and a destination for visitors. Cafe Pasqual’s has gotten a lot of  good press and it’s deserved!  If you’re dining alone or want to meet people, try the community table. By the time you’ve finished breakfast, you may know your table mates. I know people who’ve started friendships here; according to Kagel people have met their spouses at the table.  The breakfast menu is diverse. They have the usuals like breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, but i you’re adventurous,  try something different.  The Huevos Barbacoa (my favorite), a delicious combination of marinated, slow-cooked shredded beef  served on corn tortillas with chile d’arbol salsa and topped with with eggs is a great choice. I ask for a side of the tomatillo salsa with it because I love the tart taste mixed with the chile d’arbol. Another popular breakfast dish is Huevos Motuleños (eggs over easy on a corn tortilla topped with sautéed banana, feta cheese, green peas, roasted tomato/jalapeño salsa served with green, red chile or tomatillo salsa). If spice is not your thing, try the smoked trout hash (they also offer the corned-beef variety), pancakes or brioche French toast. Portions are HUGE. If you don’t have a big appetite, many dishes are available as half orders. Like a late breakfast or breakfast for lunch? You’re in luck; it’s served until 3pm. Plan to arrive when they open the doors in the morning or be prepared to wait.

Harry’s Roadhouse

Santa Fe breakfast places - Harry's Roadhouse

Harrys Roadhouse, photo/Steve Collins

Harry’s Roadhouse seems to be busy no matter what time of day you go. The quirky joint offers four distinct dining areas, each with it own character and one of the best outdoor dining areas in town.  Breakfast ranges from house-baked goods to New Mexican and Mexican fare including burritos, migas (scrambled eggs with onion, green pepper, tomato, pickled jalapeño, tortilla chips and cheese), chilaquiles (while it can vary from place to place, at Harry’s it’s eggs, fried tortilla strips, tomatillo salsa and asadero and cotija cheeses) as well as the simple, beloved American breakfast (eggs, meat and home fries). Not an egg-lover? There are pancakes (including lemon ricotta), waffles and French toast.

Plaza Cafe

Santa Fe breakfast restaurants the historic Plaza Cafe has been serving Santa Fe for almost 100 years photo Steve Collins

Plaza Cafe may be the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe photo/Steve Collins

If you want to mix a bit of history with breakfast, eat at the Plaza Cafe, on the west side of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza. The owners say it’s the oldest restaurant in town. Originally opened in 19o5, it’s been owned by the Razatos family since 1947. Inside, it feels like an old 50s diner. Check out the vintage photos of the café from earlier days on the walls. The extensive breakfast has many typical breakfast dishes such as”The Traditional” The standard American eggs breakfast, but be adventurous and try one of their  more unusual  breakfast offerings such as Huevos con Nopalito (scrambled eggs with cactus, chopped steak, tomatillo salsa, cheese and Mexican sour cream),  posole (traditional New Mexican stew made with hominy offered here with a choice of pork or menudo) or the Huevos Divorciados (two eggs served on corn tortillas topped with chipotle and tomatillo salsa).  A few breakfast dishes are served all day. Be prepared to wait. They can get really busy. Another branch of the Razatos family operates the Plaza Café Southside, located in the San Isidro Plaza way out on Cerrillos Road.

Tecolote Cafe

Santa Fe breakfast restaurants- The counter at Tecolote Cafe at breakfast time photo Steve Collins

The counter at Tecolote Cafe at breakfast time photo/Steve Collins

Tecolote Cafe started out on Cerrillos Road in 1980. After losing their lease in April 2014 (they closed the doors on Easter Sunday), they finally reopened in July 2015 after a search for the perfect location. The much larger digs are in the Village West Shopping Center  at 1616 St Michaels Drive. This  hot spot, has always been popular with locals and visitors. On weekends there’s often a wait for a table, but it’s worth it! The restaurant’s motto is “Great Breakfasts, No Toast” but don’t despair. All breakfasts come with a choice of the bread basket or tortillas. Go for the basket with its selection of house-made muffins and biscuits! On Sundays they add cinnamon rolls  to the mix. The breakfast burritos, smothered in green (our favorite chile), red or Christmas, are wonderful. If you like your potatoes inside your burrito as we do, ask; otherwise they serve them on the side. Their cottage fries  may be the best breakfast potatoes in town (but that may be me- my dad used to make these and I get nostalgic). We’re big fans of their ham steak and egg special; if it’s on the specials board we both order it. For something different, try the nutty Atolé Piñon Hot Cakes made with blue cornmeal. Tecolote is also known for their French toast made from  a selection of delicious-sounding breads, posted on the menu board. If you’re a fan of real maple syrup, you can order it for an extra charge.

The Pantry

The Pantry on Cerrillos Rd. is a Santa Fe breakfast favorite, photo Steve Collins

The Pantry on Cerrillos Road is a local favorite, photo/Steve Collins

The Pantry, a local fixture is almost always busy at breakfast time. They’ve been feeding hungry Santa Feans since 1948. Originally a breakfast and lunch joint, they added dinner a few years ago. Our favorite dish here is the fresh corned beef hash topped with eggs. The breakfast burrito smothered in your favorite chile is also a winner. Their red chile is one of the best in town.  For something different, try the Huevos Consuelo, a Pantry original named for the cook who invented it. It features eggs with tomatoes, onions, garlic and spicy yellow peppers. Not in the mood for heat? Try an all-American breakfast. Pick from favorites including chicken-fried steak, biscuits with country sausage gravy, pancakes or waffles. The choice of breakfast meat goes beyond the usual bacon and ham, offering carne adovada, slow-cooked corned beef or chorizo.

Tia Sofia

Breakfast at Tia Sophia's is a Santa Fe brealfast tradition courtesy Tia Sophia's

Breakfast at Tia Sophia’s, photo/courtesy Tia Sophia’s

Tia Sophia, on West San Francisco Street just a few blocks west of the Santa Fe Plaza, has been luring locals for breakfast since 1975. One of the most written about (and televised) Santa Fe breakfast restaurants, it also attracts flocks of tourists;  a few Hollywood folks have been spotted over the years. If you know who to look for, you’ll also see local movers and shakers, from the worlds of business and politics. Many deals have been struck here over a power breakfast. Owner Nick Maryol says his dad, Jim, came up with the name “breakfast burrito” for the delicious concoction that Santa Feans had been eating at home “forever” and put it on the menu. Tia Sophia’s also claims that the term “Christmas” for a mix of red and green chile originated there as well. True or not, they’re great stories!

What are your favorite Santa Fe breakfast restaurants?

Read about our search for the best Santa Fe breakfast burritos.

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19 Responses to “Some of our favorite Santa Fe breakfast restaurants”

  1. Payje
    July 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    You guys make me so stinking hungry all the time! I miss green chile so so much! I bought some anaheims from the grocery store here the other day and roasted them in the oven, it was not a good experience. I’m going to have to order some to be sent here! Those breakfasts looked so good, especially the huevos motulenos!
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  2. Alex Gildzen
    July 17, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    & then there’s the cinnamon roll at Counter Culture
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    • Billie Frank
      July 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. We didn’t even scratch the surface. Counter Culture is definitely on our list for future breakfast posts.

  3. Edwin Roman
    July 17, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    I first visited Santa Fe five years ago, dined at the Plaza Cafe and just loved it. I returned for my 45th birthday earlier this month, on July 4th, and they were closed for renovations! I was so disappointed. I plan on returning for my 50th birthday—-take note Plaza Cafe: July 4, 2017! Please be open!

    • Billie Frank
      July 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      Good news for you. The Plaza reopened on Joly 9th. It’s going into our Tidbits to be posted later. They’ve been here over 100 years and God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, they;ll be here in 2017. It’s a LONG time to wait to come back to our great city! Happy belated birthday!

  4. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    July 22, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    The breakfast in Santa Fe looks amazing! I’m glad you warned me about asking to taste the chile first– that would be embarrassing if you try to return a dish for bring too spicy and they say no 😉
    Leslie (Downtown Traveler) recently posted..PHOTOS: Exploring New York City by bicycle – from Wall Street to DUMBOMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      July 23, 2012 at 7:06 am #

      Breakfast is definitely worth eating here! And be warned, they won’t take a dish back for being too hot. Many of the restaurants warn you on the menu and I think I’ve seen signs on the wall. Years ago when we were visiting in NM, we ate in a famous Albuquerque restaurant. When I ordered green chile w/ something he asked, “Mild, Medium or hot.” Being a total wuss I ordered mild. It was the hottest thing I never ate. Even sour cream, known to go a long way to cooling things off didn’t make it edible. In NM, there is no mild, depending on the chile itself, you may get medium. Most of it’s pretty hot for many Gringo palates.

  5. Karen Warren
    April 25, 2016 at 7:07 am #

    Wonderful! I love Mexican style food – if I ever get to Santa Fe I’ll look out for those breakfasts.

    • Billie Frank
      April 25, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

      There’s a great mix of Mexican and New Mexican breakfast options depending on where you go. Some offer both. Breakfast in Santa Fe is an occasion.

  6. Janice Chung
    April 25, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    These places and foods beat the basic bacon and eggs! So, I have a question about chiles. I’m a wimp with spicy foods but want to eat more….what’s the different between the red and green? Is one “hotter”?
    Janice Chung recently posted..What Other Places In France Should You See?My Profile

    • Billie Frank
      April 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      Chiles vary. Some say green is hotter, some say red. I personally think it depends on the year and where they are grown- that French concept of terroir is true here as well. You can get two different heat levels from two chiles from the same see stock growing near each other. The soil is really one of the key factors as are moisture levels, amount of sun that year and more. I bough hot and mild chiles at the same place and the “mild” were hotter than the “hot.” I often taste or order the chile on the side. Sometimes it’s so hot it brings tears to my eyes- I usually eat it anyway.

  7. Susan Moore
    April 25, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    You are definitely making me hungry with these breakfast spots in Santa Fe, hungry for food and another visit to Santa Fe! Thank you for the travel and gastronomical inspiration 🙂
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    • Billie Frank
      April 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      The food here certainly is unique. Come back and have some chile!

  8. Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    April 25, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    I love to go out for breakfast, and this list will sure keep me happy next time I’m in Santa Fe. BTW, I wrote a similar article for San Francisco, and your last entry, Tia Sophia on San Francisco Street, reminded me!

    • Billie Frank
      April 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

      I’ll check it out. I’m a big breakfast fan and try to get out and have at least a few breakfasts when we travel.

  9. The GypsyNesters
    April 25, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    Boy do we miss green chili. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner… doesn’t matter. Any meal, any time, love some green chili.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted..Looking Into IndonesiaMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      April 26, 2016 at 10:57 am #

      It sounds like you need to come back to Santa Fe! We’ve got green chile for every meal!

  10. Sue Reddel
    April 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

    I just love Mexican breakfasts! Great way to start to day. Give me fresh made tortillas and hueva rancheros and I’m good.
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    • Billie Frank
      April 27, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

      Santa Fe is great- you can get Mexican breakfasts, New Mexican breakfasts, French breakfasts, Salvadoran breakfasts the the old Amer4ican stand-bys. It’s a great breakfast town!.

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