Like many folks, Chef Tony Smith thought he was coming for a brief visit with family. Santa Fe snared him, though, and the city’s tastier for that twist of fate. These days, the jovial young chef is creating flavor-packed modern American food with a Southwestern flair at the Inn and Spa at Loretto.
CULTURE STEEPED IN HISTORY
If you haven’t been in the Inn and Spa at Loretto in recent years, its new-ish owner, Heritage Hotels and Resorts, has substantially upgraded all aspects of the hotel. The New Mexico-based collection of 10 hotels, strung like pearls on a necklace from Taos to Las Cruces, strives to celebrate the area’s character and culture.
The Inn at Loretto has a substantial history as the site of the old Loretto Academy girls’ school. Many locals still come in with stories of their days there. The stunning 19th-century Loretto Chapel, a Gothic Revival gem modeled on Paris’s Sainte Chapelle, graces the property too. Chef Tony oversees Luminaria, the hotel’s signature restaurant, as well as The Living Room lounge, and the Crafted Café.
Chef tony’s MODERN AMERICAN MENU
Luminaria serves breakfast or brunch, lunch, and dinner most days. My last meal here was an evening repast in front of the blazing fireplace. I find it hard to start dinner here without an order of the green chile arancini. Chef Tony combines these fried creamy risotto balls, from the Sicilian side of his family, with New Mexico’s beloved pungent pod, for delectable results. For something lighter though, an order of steamed mussels in tomato-saffron broth, or Brussels sprouts in black garlic vinaigrette are a couple of other starter possibilities. For these cool days and nights, soups like chicken tortilla or butternut squash with red chile meringue crumble can warm you.
Main courses reflect the seasons as well and use local ingredients when possible. The Beck & Bulow New Mexico bison short ribs are braised in a sweet-sour agrodolce sauce, then spooned over polenta enriched with red chile and boursin cheese. In another nod to Tony’s Italian heritage, he makes pappardelle and combines it with a carbonara-style sauce enhanced with green chile and shreds of duck confit. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the celery root “steak” served on goat cheese cauliflower “rice” with chimichurri.
It’s possible to order the burger in both the restaurant and Living Room bar. The hefty Certified Angus patty, topped with green chile, white Cheddar, glazed bacon, and more, was the winner of the People’s Choice award in the city’s 2021 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. The lounge offers loads of cocktail options, with many martinis and margaritas, including a strawberry-jalapeño number that’s on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail.
Crafted Café is the newest addition to the dining choices at the hotel. It specializes in morning pastries, coffees, and teas. It will begin afternoon service soon of wine, beer, with truffled popcorn, charcuterie, and other light bites from Tony and crew.
Stop in soon!
The Living Room
Inn and Spa at Loretto
211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Top image: The green chile arancini.
Story by Cheryl Alters Jamison.
Four-time James Beard Foundation Book Award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison is the host of Heating It Up on KTRC and is now the “queen of culinary content” for SantaFe.com. Find new stories about the Santa Fe food scene each week on SantaFe.com.