Putting on the Ritz: dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants

This post is on the dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants. For more reasonably-priced or more casual outdoor dining options, read Casual Patio dining in Santa Fe, and Santa Fe’s casual dining patios

When temperatures warm up, people love to dine al fresco. Santa Fe offers some excellent outdoor dining options ranging from a front porch with great people-watching to a lush courtyard with a fountain with lots of great options in between. Whether you’re having a cup of coffee, an afternoon drink or an elegant four-course dinner, The City Different has an outdoor spot perfect for you. Here are some of our favorite dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants.

315 Restaurant and Wine Bar

315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Photo/courtesy 315 Restaurant

The inviting patio at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar on historic Old Santa Fe Trail is separated from the street by plantings and shaded by big umbrellas. The restaurant started over two decades ago as a French bistro and wine bar. Things have changed over the years. The bistro influence is still found on the seasonally-changing menu, but overall, it’s now more eclectic. And though wine remains important and the restaurants hosts frequent wine dinners, there’s now a full bar with its own casual menu. Chef/owner Louis Moskow is a big fan of fresh and local and you may see him buying fresh produce at the Santa Fe Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Two summer menu favorites: Squash Blossom Beignets and soft-shell crabs. Dinner is served nightly. Reservations are recommended.

The Compound

The Compound’s secluded back patio, photo/courtesy The Compound

The peaceful, stucco-wall enclosed back patio at The Compound on historic Canyon Road feels like it’s somewhere in the Mediterranean. Dine under fruit trees amidst pots of ivy and colorful flowers artfully places around the intimate space. Enjoy chef/owner Mark Kiffen’s James Beard Award-winning food for either lunch or dinner.


Geronimo’s Portal, photo courtesy/Geronimo

The casually elegant Geronimo on Canyon Road is on just about everyone’s Santa Fe dining bucket list. The restaurant offers outdoor dining on their front portal (New Mexico for “covered porch”). Located at the front of the historic building,  the portal is a great place for people watching especially on summer Friday Friday evenings when this historic street, the primary gallery area in Santa Fe, is hopping with people going to art openings, strolling or shopping. Dinner is served nightly.

La Casa Sena

La Casa Sena patio, photo/courtesy La Casa Sena

La Casa Sena might be the best courtyard dining spot in town. It’s secluded lavishly landscaped and boasts some of the oldest trees in the city. Plus, it’s rich in history. Don Juan Sena bought a small building on Palace Avenue in 1796 and by the 1830s it had been expanded to the large family compound (44 rooms) that surrounds this beautiful courtyard. Enjoy lunch, brunch or dinner daily in this tranquil oasis.

Luminaria Restaurant & Patio

Luminaria’s exotic patio, photo/courtesy Inn and Spa at Loretto

The patio at Luminaria Restaurant & Patio, at the Inn and Spa at Loretto makes you feel as if you are dining on a Caribbean Island or even somewhere more exotic. The wood pergola with flowing curtains gives the secluded patio a romantic feeling making it the perfect place for a that special dinner au deux or to dine with six or eight of your closest friends. Enjoy a tropical drink or a Margarita and relax while you savor the perfect ambiance. On cooler evenings they light a wood fire in their outdoor fireplace. You can also enjoy breakfast and lunch on the patio. It’s the perfect spot no matter which meal you choose to eat there.

Restaurant Martin

Restaurant Martin, photo/courtesy Restaurant Martin

Martin Rios, the multi-talented chef/owner of Restaurant Martín, built and planted most of this large, inviting patio and garden with his own hands. There are two distinct dining areas; the back one is shaded by a portal and the side has huge umbrellas to protect diners from the sun. If you keep watch on the kitchen door, you may see the chef pop out to pick herbs for his “progressive American cuisine. They serve lunch, brunch and dinner.


Santacafe’s courtyard, photo/courtesy SantacaFe

The courtyard at Santacafe is a perfect spot for al fresco dining. The restaurant is located in the historic Padre Gallegos House built between 1857 and 1862.  The original well is in the courtyard, but this upscale eatery is famous for the glassed-over well in the bar. According to Bobby Morean, one of the restaurant’s owners, the controvercial Padre Gallegos had so many enemies he didn’t trust the outside well to provide safe, potable water so he had one dug inside his home. Santacafe’s tented courtyard and covered portal offer a shady respite at lunch and protection from the summer monsoons.


The bar patio at Terra at Encantado, an Auberge Resort, photo/courtesy Auberge Resorts

Terra, the award-winn restaurant at Four Seasons Resorts Rancho Encantado, is about 20 minutes north of Santa Fe just outside the small village of Tesuque.  Though the trees have become more mature since the resort’s 2008 opening you can still see stunning mountain views from the stone patio; the sunset views are superb. Executive Chef Andrew Cooper is a big proponent of farm-fresh foods. He’s often seen at the Santa Fe Farmers Market stocking up on fresh produce, but this energetic cook takes it a step further: he has his own raised-bed gardens adjacent to his kitchen. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Check with the restaurants for days and hours of service. Santa Fe is a tourist town and can get busy, especially in summer; reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends.

Some tips for getting a table on the dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants

  • Make an early reservation with a patio preference — if you arrive before all the patio tables are taken, you’ll get one.
  • Make a later reservation with a patio preference and be willing to wait until a table turns over
  • Have drinks and appetizers at the bar or in the lounge area while waiting for your table

What are your favorite dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants?

Authors’ note: As a former hotel concierges and owners of a travel concierge and trip-planning business in Santa Fe, the writers may have been guests of business or services mentioned in posts on this site. While these experiences have not influenced us in any way, this information is provided in the spirit of full disclosure.



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2 Responses to “Putting on the Ritz: dining patios at Santa Fe’s upscale restaurants”

  1. miriam
    August 12, 2013 at 2:47 am #

    Thanks for posting!!

    Some of the photos have give me ideas for a patio restaurant I am helping a friend build
    in ghana, west africa.

    wishing you safe journey in all your travels


    • Billie Frank
      August 12, 2013 at 7:47 am #

      Thanks for letting us know, Miriam. We are always excited to offer inspiration. Good luck with the patio. We’d love to see photos when it’s completed.

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