It’s no secret that the foundation of New Mexico’s culinary history can be attributed to women. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters and friends have all contributed to New Mexico’s colorful culinary past. Santa Fe is no exception. We are proud to tout several well-known restaurants that are named after inspiring women. Let me introduce you to the the culinary great ladies of Santa Fe.
Georgia On My Mind And Plate
I find it fitting that one would name a restaurant after one of the great painters of modern times—not only because of her art, but by inspiration of her singular culinary style. You’ll find Georgia right next to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on Johnson Street. Fitting wouldn’t you say?
If you’re a history buff, I’ll let you know that the restaurant––a brown stone building––occupies what was originally two United States army officer’s quarters built at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Upon entering you’ll love how the dining room has been fully restored to the elegance of a Victorian mansion, allowing you to dine and enjoy an intimate evening with family and your friends. The black and white photographs of Georgia O’Keefe compliment and round out your dining experience. Your taste buds will thank you as you sample the seasonal, creative and delicious contemporary American cuisine Georgia is known for.
We all know that there’s nothing like grandma’s cooking. That is why Chef John Rivera Sedlar named his restaurant, Eloisa, after his grandmother Eloisa Rivera. Eloisa was the first person to teach him how to cook.
Sedlar was named "the Father of Modern Southwest Cuisine" by Gourmet magazine and has competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. He also guest-taught at the Culinary Institute of America and is the author of many cookbooks including Modern Southwest Cuisine.
Chef Sedlar’s accolades are numerous. In 2011, Sedlar was named "Chef of the Year" by Esquire magazine and RIVERA restaurant was acclaimed as one of the nation’s "Best New Restaurants 2011." Sedlar was recognized in the legendary Cook’s Magazine feature "Top 50 Who’s Who of Cooking in America," and in Food & Wine’s "Honor Roll of American Chefs." He then received the Silver Spoon Award from Food Arts Magazine. More recently, Eater named Eloisa to its “Top 21 Restaurants in America.”
Eloisa is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and serves Southwestern Latin fusion cuisine.
Maria’s In The Kitchen
You might consider Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen as one of the great-grandmother restaurants in Santa Fe. Maria’s has been in business for over 60 years. Let’s go back to 1952 when Maria and Gilbert Lopez started a small take-out kitchen that offered traditional, Northern New Mexican cuisine.
The small take-out business soon became a local favorite and over the years has grown into a full service restaurant. It is now a Santa Fe institution. A local historian told me that it opened on Fiesta weekend in 1950. They served the same menu then that they serve today. Now that’s tradition! It has built a history specializing in authentic, home-style New Mexican dishes made with traditional red and green chile, handmade tortillas, and made-to-order margaritas, using only 100% agave tequila.
I urge you to visit Maria’s in Santa Fe and see why The Seattle Times called Maria’s “The Motherlode of American Margaritas!”
In 1882, Abraham Staab, a European immigrant who became one of Santa Fe’s most prosperous merchants, built a Victorian mansion on property that now belongs to the La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa. Abraham’s elegant wife, Julia, entertained local society and visiting dignitaries in incomparable style. Legend has it that Julia so loved her home that she has never left it. A spirited restaurant and bar indeed!
Julia Staab has now become a muse and the resort now honors her name and legendary hospitality with Julia. The restaurant features innovative, locally sourced dishes by award-winning chef Todd Hall as well as an extensive selection of fine wines and spirits.
Tomasita’s restaurant is another Santa Fe tradition serving classic Northern New Mexican cuisine. Founder Georgia Maryol started at a small café on Hickox Street in 1974, working with Tomasita Leyba. Leyba brought her local recipes to the restaurant. After building and outgrowing the small space with a dedicated clientele, Tomasita’s moved to a red brick building in Santa Fe’s Railyard where it still is today.
Tomasita’s is locally owned and operated by the Maryol and Gundrey families who have been in business for over 40 years. The restaurant is known for taking great pride in their quality of food, friendly and fast service and great margaritas. Make this a must-do on your Santa Fe restaurant list.
Tia Sophia’s Restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary this past May. This legendary, family-owned restaurant has been serving breakfast and both classic and traditional New Mexico fare to locals and visitors since the 1970’s.
Tia Sophia’s was named after Sophia Kellis who was originally from the town of Mytilene on the isle of Lesbos in Greece. She was first married to Tony Maryol in 1917. He brought Sophia to the United States in 1936.
The breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s makes a perfect, hearty breakfast. Soft tortillas are stuffed with bacon and hash browns, then smothered in melted cheese and served with a poached egg on top. For added kick, order the Christmas version that comes with extra-spicy red and green chiles!
The “Great Ladies” have stood the test of time and have single-handedly left an indelible mark in Santa Fe’s rich culinary world! Plan a visit to Santa Fe to taste it for yourself. Here’s to the next group of great ladies of our local restaurant universe. Who knows who they will be?