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 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 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.
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 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, 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 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.