Outside Dining in Santa Fe

Lynn Cline - March 15, 2017

Where to dine when the weather's fine...

It's hard to believe that winter's still here or that spring officially arrives on Monday. For days, it's felt like early summer and all of our fruit trees are blooming. I've noticed the warm weather has prompted a few restaurants to open their patios, including The Compound Restaurant, which served lunch al fresco last Friday.

So, even though the calendar clearly says mid-March, let's take a look at some of Santa Fe's favorite patios, where you might be able to enjoy lunch, or even an early dinner, before the snow and cold weather returns. At the very least, bookmark this page for easy reference so you'll have a list of places where you can enjoy outdoor dining in fine weather, whenever it's here. And remember that most of these restaurants change their menu seasonally, so not all of the dishes described below may be available year-round.

Dining on the patio of The Compound is a romantic, elegant affair, with crisp white linen, flawless stemware, flowers and greenery and umbrellas for shade. If you're here for lunch, the menu offers one of my favorite dishes in Santa Fe—Chicken Schnitzel, accompanied by capers, parsley, lemon and sautéed spinach. The Jumbo Crab & Lobster Salad with mango, red onion, butter lettuce and tangerine vinaigrette is also delicious andThe Compound Burger—made with Lone Mountain Ranch Waygu beef with avocado, tomato, griddled bulb onions and aioli (order yours with roasted poblanos and white cheddar cheese!)—is perfect for hearty appetites. Brioche Pain Perdu with rum raisin gelato, house made ricotta and Riesling-thyme poached pears provides a sweet endnote to your outdoor feast.

Bouche Bistro has a romantic covered patio with hanging flower baskets and candlelit tables. Dining here, you'll feel as if you're in a Parisian neighborhood bistro, especially when you order the Wagyu Hanger Steak “Au Poivre” with Pommes Frites or Cassoulet de Carcassonne with Lamb Shank, Garlic Sausage and Duck Confit. You can share small plates, too, such as Classic Escargots à la Bourguignonne and Grilled Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto, Brioche Toast and Hollandaise. For dessert, Profiterole au Chocolat or Nutella Chocolate Mousse are favorites here, with good reason.

Loyal Hound has a sweet little patio where you can relax and enjoy the legendary Pork and Waffles as I recently did. This delectable dish—a thick herbed Belgian waffle heaped with braised Kaiser Farms pork in house-made spicy BBQ sauce and maple syrup drizzle—will dazzle you with flavors. And the green chile slaw is addictive. The house-made German-style soft baked pretzel is darn good, too, paired with spicy French Dijon. And the Loyal Hound Spicy Green Chile Mac'n'Cheese, made with Tucumcari Cheddar and Gruyere is out of this world, especially if you order it topped with bacon.

Seated at a table on 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar's patio, you may feel as if you're at a Parisian bistro, with chalk-board menus and classic French fare such as Chicken Cordon Bleu stuffed with house-smoked ham and fontina cheese, Steak Frites and Bouillabaisse with scallops, shrimp, mussels and sea bass. You could bring a friend and share small plates, including the signature Basil-Wrapped Shrimp with apricot chutney and Madras curry sauce and the House-made Charcuterie with pickles and mustard, country pate, duck rillettes, cacciatore, salume, bresoala and mortadella. For dessert, be decadent and order Chocolate Pots de Crème with whipped cream and chocolate marble.

For live music, cocktails and a Western ambience, head to Cowgirl BBQ. You can sip a thirst-quenching margarita and tap your feet to songs from country or rock bands, singer/songwriters and even Cowgirl Karaoke, while you dine on burgers, BBQ, thick, juicy steaks and other fare. Or push the envelope and try the Yak Meatloaf with stout and molasses demi-glace. There are daily specials and seasonal menus to choose from along with great desserts, including the Cowgirl's famous Ice Cream Baked Potato.

If the weather's not cooperating for al fresco dining, you can enjoy the closest thing to it at Hotel Santa Fe's Amaya, where a glass-enclosed patio overlooks outdoor gardens and a tipi, for private dining. Try the IPA Pan-Seared Free Range Chicken Breast with curry butter-roasted fingerling potatoes, fried Brussels sprouts and IPA pan sauce or the Stuffed Poblano Chile with Three Sisters Salad and quinoa cake with roasted red pepper cream reduction. You can hang out during Happy Hour (4:30-6:30 pm) and savor fish and chips with red chile remoulade, shrimp fajita tacos, or green chile and duck confit as you watch wilight set in around the garden.

Photos Courtesy of the following Santa Fe, NM, restaurants: 315 Restaurant and Bar, Loyal Hound and Amaya.