Shedding light on the holiday fare at The Luminaria Restaurant

Lynn Cline - November 28, 2017

Celebrate the season in style at the Inn and Spa at Loretto's Luminaria Restaurant & Patio

Dining out during the holiday season in Santa Fe offers a Santa-size bag of options, whether you're in search of the utmost elegant experience or simply a place to bring the whole family for festive fun. However, when you're looking for that just-right spot—romantic enough to bring the one you love, relaxing enough to gather with family and friends—Luminaria Restaurant and Patio at the Inn and Spa at Loretto may be just the place for you.

The restaurant's warm and inviting interior blends contemporary sleekness with traditional Southwestern charm, including design elements inspired by Ancestral Puebloan people. The ancient ones used mineral-based paint and that is reflected in the dining room, from the kiva fireplace to the white-washed pine floors and latilla-and-viga ceiling. In nicho-like areas hang vibrant paintings by Santa Fe-based artist Mateo Romero. (You may recognize his work from the 2008 Santa Fe Indian Market poster, which featured a detail of his“Deer Dancer Series.”) Around the room, wood tables and wicker chairs are grouped in intimate arrangements, allowing you to accommodate any seating need.

Before you think about booking your table, though, you might want to consider the holiday menus because...well, 'tis the season and Luminaria's offering enticing options for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. Each menu is available from 5 to 9 pm, featuring fare prepared by Executive Chef Arturo Urreola, from Mexico City.

The Christmas menus are identical, with starters such as lentil cream soup and a plantain banana garnish and Caesar Salad with cilantro pesto, saffron aioli, roasted heirloom tomato, Parmesan crisp and poblano Caesar dressing. Entrées include the star of the holiday season—traditional slow-roasted turkey breast dressed up with sage gravy, apricot walnut stuffing and an orangey cranberry Grand Marnier sauce, served with buttered broccolini. Other choices include seared salmon with citrus dill butter, a risotto made with goat cheese and toasted pumpkin seed, and a side of grilled calabacitas. Vegetarians might want to try roasted acorn squash with wild rice, tofu with quinoa, cranberry, pear and pecan, and plum chile de arbol sauce.

The New Year's Eve menu includes the same appetizers as the Christmas menus. It also offers two top-of-the-line items that generally give diners a hard choice. The first, the much-loved lobster tail, is served here with Hatch green chile hollandaise sauce, cilantro cream basmati rice and roasted calabacitas on the side. The second option, filet mignon, is prepared with a trio-of-mushrooms and merlot demi and paired with Yukon and corn scallop potato cake and grilled asparagus.

The desserts, featured on all three menus, undoubtedly will end your dinner on a sweet note as they include pumpkin cheesecake topped with French Vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon sugar, and a trio of chocolates with anise caramel sauce.

If these holiday menus whet your appetite, remember that you don't have to wait to visit Lumninaria until Christmas and New Year's roll around (though that will happen before you know it.) The restaurant's busy schedule covers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as weekend brunch. There's even a two-course Performance Menu, available from 5 to 6:30 pm, so you'll have time to dine and make a seasonal show at The Lensic, attend GLOW, the winter lights event at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, and take in the array of holiday events at the various museums in and around Santa Fe.

Stop in for breakfast or brunch and you can kick off your day with a healthy Green Monster Vegan Shake, a concoction of spinach, cucumber, soy milk, strawberry and banana. Or, indulge yourself with pumpkin waffles topped with ginger cream, candied pecans and warm maple syrup. Pop in for lunch and you'll find the ultimate Santa Fe comfort food on the menu—grilled chicken enchiladas stuffed with cheese, served with Spanish rice and black beans, and smothered in your choice of red or green. And because it's the season...why not order Christmas?

Dinner at Luminaria might begin with a bowl of hearty tortilla soup, studded with grilled chicken and avocado as well as corn and cilantro. You might then move on to Santa Fe spiced organic chicken with patatas bravas, black bean and corn succotash, and mole (one of my all-time favorite sauces). Or dive right in to jumbo sea scallops with sweet pea risotto, chilied pepitas, grilled spring onions and brown butter. For a decadent dessert, delight in Baileys' Flourless Chocolate Cake with chocolate sauce, chocolate crumbs and chocolate ice cream. The Strawberry Tres Leches offers a creative twist on a local favorite with the addition of strawberry peppercorn.

During seasonal weather, don't miss the serene setting of The Patio, popular with locals as well as visitors who enjoy dining al fresco beneath the stars, next to the renowned Loretto Chapel, surrounded by sumptuous fabrics and hanging lanterns.

Luminaria's eclectic progressive Southwestern cuisine includes local ingredients from area farmers' markets, and is infused with notes of global inspiration. It's a great place to ring in the holidays, perhaps with a Strawberry-Jalapeño Margarita in hand because it's included on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. Cheers!