There’s an abundance of reasons to abandon your kitchen this holiday in Santa Fe. Do as so many of us locals do, and let our world-renowned chefs turn your Thanksgiving into a feast for the senses. Favorite restaurants are creating inspired menus just for this wonderful holiday to please everyone in your party. However, if the kitchen is your happy place, then tie on an apron and learn a new recipe at one of our cooking schools.
We have a rich history of celebrating around the table here, whether you do the cooking yourself or entrust your appetite to someone else. When the Pilgrims celebrated the very first feast of Thanksgiving in 1621, Santa Fe had already been established as a provincial capital in this region for more than 10 years. That should paint a vivid picture of the magnificent feasts that greet you at every turn.
A Cornucopia of Temptations from Santa Fe’s Premiere Chefs
I should warn you: The following may cause feelings of euphoria and giddiness, along with chronic mouth-watering desire. Take a long, loving gander at the sigh-inducing fare some of Santa Fe’s celebrated restaurants are cooking up for Thanksgiving.
For starters, I’d like to personally introduce you to Chef Martín Rios, proprietor and culinary visionary of Restaurant Martín.
Chef Rios continues to garner guests’ applause and critics’ praise with the outstanding dining experience he delivers in the historic adobe home that houses Restaurant Martín. Since opening the restaurant in 2009, he has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. Prior to opening his own restaurant he served as the Executive Chef of Geronimo, Inn of The Anasazi, and The Old House Restaurant.
Never afraid to push the boundaries, Chef Martín’s personally crafted Thanksgiving menu features a nod toward traditional favorites such as a full course of organic turkey with all the trimmings, as well as a host of outside-the-gravy-boat thinking, ranging from Colorado Lamb Shank Risotto to Maine Lobster Beignets.
Do I hear your stomach rumbling? Well hang onto your pilgrim hat, cuz we’re just getting started. The heralded Terra Restaurant at the Four Seasons Santa Fe unveiled its customized Thanksgiving menu offering a (literally) jaw-dropping three-course meal from Noon to 8 pm, with half-price dining for discerning guests aged 5-12. And they don’t stop at the sage-butter, basted turkey with green chile piñon stuffing, either. Whether you’re a seasonal vegetarian or a lifelong enthusiast, enjoy the Pumpkin Pasta entrée, made with a bounty of fall vegetables and kicked up with red chile pistachios. There’s something for every foodie at Terra’s Thanksgiving.
I feel it is my personal duty to tell you about Luminaria Restaurant at the legendary Inn and Spa at Loretto. Luminaria offers yet another peak dining experience up here at 7,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. For Thanksgiving, Chef Brett Sparman pulls out all the stops with an incredible three-course feast that covers the entire landscape of flavor profiles, from Roasted Turkey to locally admired dishes like Blue Corn Crusted Trout and Talus-Wind Ranch Lamb T-Bones. For the plant strong among us, vegetarian options abound at Luminaria this (Non) Turkey Day, including sumptuous grilled cilantro tofu. Chef Brett’s extraordinary Thanksgiving menu will be served from Noon to 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day, and remember: Reservations are required.
What’s next on the menu? Yet another Thanksgiving experience to-dine-for! La Plazuela dining room in the legendary La Fonda on the Plazainvites you to savor aThanksgiving buffetoverflowing with traditional Turkey Day favorites imbued with a zesty dose of The Land of Enchantment. Executive Chef at La Plazuela since 1993, Lane Warner infuses classic Northern New Mexico flavors with beloved contemporary elements, using locally sourced organic meats and produce. La Plazuela at La Fonda offers a La La Land of Thanksgiving flavors from 11 am to 3 pm on Thanksgiving Day.
Hungry to Explore Santa Fe? Gobble Up Thanksgiving on the Go
For all you go-getters out there who’ve developed ambitious itineraries to make the most of your Thanksgiving visit to Santa Fe, you can still enjoy the classic flavors of Turkey Day without a lengthy sit-down feast.
Let’s say you want to maximize your shopping time to search for holiday gifts for loved ones at local merchants. I highly suggest you treat yourself to — get this — the TurDucken Burger at Rio Chama! This tour-de-force burger experience features smoked turkey, chicken breast, and house-made duck meatloaf, all piled high with a side of cranberry mayo. Or perhaps you have a leisurely spa day planned, and are looking for a less-hefty sampling of hearty Thanksgiving goodness before or after you unwind into a state of tranquil copacetic-ness. TerraCotta Wine Bistro has just what the masseuse ordered: a light, sumptuous Shaved Turkey Breast Panini, complete with pea shoots, Havarti, and green chili aioli.
And for those of you keen on sharing small plates, do a deep-dive into all of the art galleries along Canyon Road. Santa Fe’s legendary tapas restaurant El Farol offers up traditional-yet-transcendent dishes, like Codorniz (that’s grilled quail with espresso barbecue sauce), and Pato Asado, a succulent roasted duck breast in a sweet carrot sauce. But a word to the wise: El Farol does a bustling business on Thanksgiving Day, so better make reservations if you plan to stop in on November 28.
This Thanksgiving, Become Master of Your Culinary Domain
I love so many things about Thanksgiving. I mean, not only is it a day to be celebrated and cherished with those we love, it’s also the kickoff to many holiday celebrations to come. And we all know what that means: plenty of quality time in the kitchen. As good fortune would have it, Santa Fe is home to exceptional cooking schools, for novice and advanced cooks alike. Even better, a Thanksgiving in Santa Fe offers the ideal opportunity to master those challenging dishes you’ve always had your eye on — just in time for the holiday season.
Santa Fe Culinary Academy
For starters, the Santa Fe Culinary Academy hosts a number of workshops throughout November that will guide you step-by-step through the process of making soups, preparing classic New Mexican dishes, and even creating a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner that even ardent meat eaters would line up for. (You can check out their complete November events schedule here.)
Santa Fe School of Cooking
Hungry for more culinary know-how? The Santa Fe School of Cooking offers classes in the ancient art of tamale making. What better chance for you to hone the skills for making your very own tamales for the Christmas season than getting your hands dirty at the Santa Fe School of Cooking during Thanksgiving? Upon your return from Santa Fe, you can ply your new tamale-making skills and have a heaping helping of these corn-husked wonders in the freezer, ready for hordes of friends and family come Christmastime. For a more modern twist on a masterful holiday menu, try the Santa Fe School of Cooking’s “Modern Southwestern Thanksgiving” class. This demonstration-style class even includes a full meal. Getting students to leave the classroom has never been more difficult.
Feast your eyes on the Santa Fe School of Cooking’s full November events calendar here.
Make a Thanksgiving Pilgrimage to Santa Fe and Come Back for Seconds
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought Thanksgiving offers its own unique brand of holiday charm. I like the less-hectic pace, the lower-level hustle, and the emphasis on expressing gratitude toward your loved ones and friends. And what does all of this quality time among our nearest and dearest necessitate? Why, the very glue that makes memories stick to the mind—great food and great moments with great people. All of which makes Santa Fe such a wondrous place for Thanksgiving. If you come, bring your heartiest of appetites for food, drink, culture, spa, history, art, and the outdoors, because each of your senses is in for an epic feast.