There are many good restaurants in Santa Fe, but are any truly great? For me, being great is the combination of dishes you think about days even weeks later (like the mole chicken at Paloma), a welcoming and unfussy ambiance (like the rusticness at Joseph’s or the gardens at Cafecita), and of course good value (in my case, it’s usually measured by having enough for breakfast leftovers).
Are there any great restaurants in Santa Fe? After several visits, I’m ready to say 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar is one of our great restaurants. Not without faults, sometimes it’s a little loud and they once missed an entree (though quickly and apologetically corrected). But the combination of memorable dishes, an intimate but approachable ambiance, the very knowledgeable and friendly staff, and the great wine program keeps us coming back.
The menu is concise, approachable, and mostly French, split between mainstays like fried chicken and steak frites and daily specials like winter squash pasta and a thick-cut veal chop.
On our visits, we’ve really enjoyed the fried chicken - wonderfully spiced and perfectly cooked. Not greasy, not in-your-face buttermilk but light and fresh finger food and very generously portioned.
I’m a big fan of cassoulet which we’re blessed in Santa Fe to have many options. And so while Mille’s cassoulet is good, it’s also (in my opinion) tentative. The cassoulet at 315 is bold, richly spiced, as I would expect it to taste if I were breaking bread at a farm in France.
Even more delicious was the bouillabaisse special. Packed with mussels, shrimp, and monkfish, and balanced with delicious tomato-y broth, it was some of the best seafood I’ve had in our landlocked high-desert oasis.
I almost never order pasta at a restaurant, but 315’s pasta (in this case vegetarian butternut squash) was fresh and perfectly cooked (ever so slightly chewy) with a blend of sweet, salt, and acid that hit the mark.
The steak frites is also very good, nicely marbled, generously portioned New York cut cooked to the right temperature that holds its own against Santa Fe’s best steakhouses. French fries were thin, crispy, and hot as they should be.
We are not big dessert people (plus the entree portions are really generous), but do enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth warmth and sweetness of the profiteroles. And, like most of the dishes at 315, there are enough to share with everyone at the table.
Not all the dishes hit the mark. The veal chop was pricey and not as juicy as grandma used to make. Several dishes were under-salted but that’s better than over-salting and they do have salt on each table. The salads, while delicious, should be bigger for the price (~$16).
We love their wine program. Usually, a dozen choices by the glass, all generally around $15/glass, personally picked by the owner who reaches far into small French family wineries that would be near impossible to find on your own. The wine and food pairing suggestions really hit the mark, and if they don’t, are happy to change out your glass. Penny foolish, pound wise.
So is 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar one of Santa Fe’s great restaurants? You should decide for yourself but I know that we will keep coming back whenever we want memorable dishes, a great atmosphere, and plenty of breakfast leftovers.
From let to right:
Winter Squash Ravioli
Coquette St. Jacque
About Andrew Mackles