Geronimo: A Santa Fe Culinary Mecca

Lynn Cline - April 12, 2017

Savor creative cuisine,elegant ambiance and the camaraderie of happy diners

In a city renowned for fine dining, it's not easy to stand out among the crowd of James Beard award-winning restaurants and chefs. But for more than a quarter of a century, Geronimo has remained one of Santa Fe's most revered restaurants, widely considered the best in New Mexico.

Part of the reason for Geronimo's success might be its elegant, romantic setting—a historic Territorial-Style hacienda adobe dating to 1756, with Santa Fe style vigas, kiva fireplaces and wood floors combined with a minimalist décor.

Or perhaps it's the signature dishes, including Telicherry Rubbed Elk Tenderloin with Roasted Garlic Fork-Mashed Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Creamy Brandied-MushroomSauce, named the best steak in New Mexico by Zagat. The Durham Ranch Pan-Roasted Organic Chicken with Cavatelli Pasta, House-Made Spicy Italian Sausage, Morel Mushrooms Sherry Chicken Au Jus is another bestseller. The secret's in the sauce, as the meat is slowly brined and finished with sherry au jus. And I've seen crowds at the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta line up for hours just to taste the Mesquite-Grilled Maine Lobster Tails with Hand-Crafted Thai Basil Pasta, Spinach, Edamame and Creamy Garlic Chile Sauce.

The impeccable service plays a role, too, from the valet parking to the friendly servers who know every detail about each dish and bottle of wine the restaurant offers. All of these ingredients contribute to Geronimo's longtime recipe for success, making this one of Santa Fe's most lauded restaurants. One of just two restaurants in New Mexico to earn the prestigious 4-Star designation from the Mobil Travel Guide, Geronimo is on OpenTable's list of the 100 Best Restaurants in the U.S. and was named New Mexico's best restaurant by Business Insider. Food & Wine tapped it as one of Santa Fe's most romantic restaurants. Vogue recently waxed eloquent about its handsome bar , a “Santa Fe stalwart serving perfect cocktails,” and readers of The Santa Fe Reporter consistently give Geronimo the Best of Santa Fe Fine Dining Restaurant Award.

In the kitchen, you'll find the source of some of Geronimo's magic—Executive Chef Slin Cruz, who took the helm after longtime chef and co-owner Eric DiStefano passed away in February , 2016. Cruz, who grew up in a village in the western state of Michoacan, Mexico, learned all about the region's traditional foodways before coming to the U.S., where he worked in restaurants and, by the age of 16, knew he wanted to be a chef. His impressive resume includes stints at Daniel Boulud's Daniel and DB Bistro in New York and, in Santa Fe, at The Compound and Bouche Bistro before becoming chef de cuisine at Geronimo.

Cruz's signature dishes include the Durham Ranch Pan-Roasted Organic Chicken, mentioned above, and the New Mexico Four Corners Grilled Rack of Lamb with Fresh Pea Puree, Parmesan Polenta Cakes, Roasted Leeks and Merlot Lamb-Reduction. He's also assembled a delectable vegetarian tasting menu devoted to mushrooms that includes Oven-Dried Shiitake Mushroom Organic Wedge with Bleu Cheese Dressing, Toasted Walnuts and Pickled Sweet Bermudas; Wild Mushroom and Sherry Bisque; and House-Made Potato & Parmigiano Gnocchi with Fresh Wild Mushrooms, Pistachio-Basil Pesto, Mornay Sauce, Fresh Truffles and Burrata Cheese .

The kitchen often serves more than 200 meals a night and the menu changes with the seasons, offering Global Eclectic cuisine with a French-inspired focus. Try the Wasabi Caesar Salad with Organic Romaine Spears, Crispy Rice "Dice" and Japanese Horseradish-Infused Caesar Dressing, or the Maryland Blue Crab Cakes with Caviar Dill Sauce. The Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Sashimi and Tartar with Buttermilk Scallion Pancakes, Wasabi Crème Fraiche, Avocado, Soy Lime Syrup, Shiso Leafs and Caviar is another dish that flawlessly combines flavors and textures, along with Waagyu Beef Carpaccio with Mustard and Horseradish Sauce, Herb Oil, Baby Mache and Classic Garnitur.

There's inspired creativity behind dishes such as Green Miso Sea Bass with Bok Choy, Scallions, Ramen Noodles, Truffle Essence, Lobster Miso and Citron Rouille; and Garbanzo Bean and Eggplant Croquette with Italian Squash Ratatouille, Crispy Artichoke Hearts and Romesco Sauce. Executive Pastry Chef Ericka Rodriguez also displays brilliance in her Fresh Meyer Lemon Crepe with Candied Lemon, Limoncello Syrup and Lemon Curd; Flourless German Chocolate Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream; and Orange Creamsicle Cake with Lemongrass Ice Cream, Cardamom Sauce and Sesame Florentine.

Every meal at Geronimo is a reflection of perfection, whether you're seated on the romantic portal or at a table in one of the intimate dining rooms. Arrive early so you can relax in Geronimo's famous bar over craft cocktails such as the Hatch green chile-infused Silver Tequila margarita. The restaurant's interior features wood floors, beams, kiva fireplaces and other Santa Fe Style elements that date to the building's origin as the home of Spanish settler Geronimo Lopez, the restaurant's namesake. He was a farmer who tended crops, pastures and an orchard, growing some of the same seasonal ingredients you might find on Geronimo's menu today. Reportedly, his ghost haunts the premises, perhaps because—like everyone else who visits Geronimo—he's enchanted by the creative cuisine, the elegant ambiance and the camaraderie of happy diners.

Photos courtesy of Geronimo