When planning a festive evening out, nobody exclaims, “Let’s go have a nice chicken breast!” Or so says a Texas steakhouse owner friend of mine. In interviewing the owners of Santa Fe’s Market Steer Steakhouse, Kristina Goode-Crook and Kathleen Goode-Crook, that remark comes up in conversation, and they laugh in agreement. Steakhouses really are the definitive American-style celebration restaurant. Theirs is also a celebration of New Mexico and its agricultural heritage.
RIDE ‘EM, COWGIRL
Chef Kathleen grew up, riding and roping, on her family’s ranch near Artesia in Southern New Mexico. Beef was on the hoof as well as on the plate. She was always involved in hearty meal preparation, food that she comments “was farm to table waaaay before that was cool.” When she left home, she initially went to college on a rodeo scholarship. Along the way though, she decided that culinary school might be a better fit.
Working in a Dallas restaurant, Kathleen met Kristina. Kristina had grown up in that big city, but in a family that always had a robust garden and home-cooked meals. Her complaint, she laughs now, was that her mom insisted on making everything from scratch. She ended up going into restaurant management. After the two worked together in Texas, and later in Colorado, they set their sights on Santa Fe for their first jointly-owned restaurant.
They chose the Market Steer name from Kathleen’s past in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. It’s the term for a steer that’s ready for processing. They made Kathleen’s father’s 7A cattle brand part of their logo. They also dedicated themselves to finding as much New Mexican meat and produce as possible.
BEEFING IT UP
Market Steer elevates the traditional American comfort food meal of meat and potatoes. Chef Kathleen serves a number of Prime steaks, from tender filet mignons to brawny ribeyes and porterhouses. She offers a less pricey flat-iron steak too, a cut from the chuck that can be delicious when cooked properly. Kathleen does it right. The steaks are all seared to perfection in one of those wondrous super high-heat broilers found in the best steakhouses. When I last dined here, the special was a New Mexico-raised Wagyu ribeye, a 13-ounce crusted beauty that I shared with a friend. The Wagyu was so rich and well-marbled, that I sent the friend home with close to half of it for her next meal. You can start dinner, or make a light one, with the Prime steak tartare. The tender meat melds with truffle aioli and a red-chile-cured egg yolk. The crackers accompanying it are made in-house and flavored with beef fat.
BUT THERE’S MUCH, MUCH MORE
It’s not just beef. When you’re in the mood for something different, lamb T-bones or bourbon-glazed chicken are a couple of other options. Want surf with your turf? Crab meat or a lobster tail can be added to any steak. Want strictly seafood? Mussels are bathed in green chile butter, and lump crabcakes come with an anchovy-rich bagna cauda sauce.
Actually, sauces are quite the thing here. Chef Kathleen has a passion for them and serves an 8-sauce sampler. Order that and some of the excellent fries or onion rings for a starter, then dunk away into Bearnaise, chimichurri, and even horseradish caramel. You’ll have enough of the sauces left to accompany a steak or other entrée.
Great steakhouses are known for their classic sides. Here, there’s a wedge salad, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, mac-and-Jack, and more. For a real over-the-top experience, diners can add a chicken fried lobster tail to the mac. Personally, I opt for the creamy green chile risotto with every dinner.
BIG NIGHT OUT
Market Steer feels appropriately special. While independently owned by Kristina and Kathleen, the restaurant occupies one wing of the venerable Hotel St. Francis downtown. The restaurant’s warm feeling is in part created by a massive fireplace set in a stone wall. Big airy windows, arched entrances, wood floors, heavy beams, and oversized leather-and-wood chairs add to the grand feeling.
A sizeable courtyard adds to the dining space. It’s surrounded by ivy-covered adobe walls and has its own hefty fireplace. The restaurant’s patio dining domes, acquired during the pandemic, will be back for the winter season. They’re cozy fun whether you’re ducking a virus, or just like the idea of your own intimate outdoor dining environment.
Kristina and her front-of-house service crew provide skilled and attentive service. I didn’t get the name of my recent waiter, but he was exceptionally knowledgeable about the food, wine, and whiskey, and humorous to boot.
Market Steer may be ideal for a celebration, but it can also make any old Tuesday night feel like a party, too.
Market Steer Steakhouse
210 Don Gaspar at Water in Hotel St. Francis
Dinner Tuesday – Saturday
Reservations strongly suggested
Story and photos 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.