Dining in Santa Fe without Breaking the Bank

What is good value when you’re eating out? The best scenario is discovering great food at inexpensive prices. But it can also be places where you get a lot of bang for your dining buck. Santa Fe is not, for the most part, a budget-friendly dining destination. You can stick to the ubiquitous chain restaurants, but what’s the fun in that? There are so many local options to choose from. Some of the best-priced food in the city is at food trucks and stands, but most of them are only open for lunch. When it comes to dinner, it’s a bit more challenging. Often food is reasonably priced, but adding drinks can take the bill way up. A few strategies to keep the tab down: drink water, have a bit of wine of beer before dinner, get a candy bar at a grocery for dessert. If drinking ahead or any time; moderation is the key or call a cab. DUI laws here are strict and there are random checks. At places like Pho Kim, Red Enchilada, Il Vicino and Café Castro two can have dinner for under $20 before tip and tax. At pricier spots such as Il Piatto, Pranzo Italian or Taberna La Boca, there are great deals during off-hours. Some even offer great wine deals as well.

Pranzo Italian Grill
Photo courtesy of Pranzo


Don't mind dining early? Pranzo Italian Grill has a great deal. The eatery offers a three-course prix fixe menu for $14.95 daily from 4 to 5:45 pm. Diners get a choice of a salad (there are three on offer), a half order of the house-made pasta...  Read More

Il Vicino
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins


Pizza is almost always a great value. It's filling and often well-priced. Il Vicino, part of a small local chain, started in Albuquerque's Nob Hill in 1992. They specialize in wood-fired pizza. You can get an individual-sized by (the only size...  Read More

Il Piatto
Photo courtesy of Il Piatto


If you don't mind eating either early or late, Il Piatto has some great dining deals. The charming restaurant, with its Italian farmhouse ambiance, is under the creative helm of chef/owner Matt Yohalem. Check out the two daily Happy Hours here....  Read More

The Plaza Cafe
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins


The Plaza Café, opened in 1905, has been run by the same family since 1947. It's a Santa Fe institution. The retro diner-like ambiance will have your feeling like you're in a time-warp. The large menu also offers something for everyone, so it...  Read More

Cerrillos Road
Cafe Castro
Photo courtesy of Cafe Castro


For the most part, Santa Fe eateries specializing in New Mexican cuisine offer large portions and are more reasonably priced than many places in a city where dining prices can be high. One of the most inexpensive is Café Castro. They've been...  Read More

The Pantry Restaurant
Photo courtesy of The Pantry Restaurant


There's something to be said for longevity. The Pantry has been feeding hungry Santa Feans since they opened in 1948. The Cerrillos Road eatery is a bustling local favorite. The same menu is served for lunch and dinner and you can get breakfast...  Read More

Santa Fe West
Pho Kim
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins


Some of the best value dining is found at Asian restaurants. Pho Kim (pronounced Fa), a Vietnamese eatery in the Solana Center west of downtown, has some great bargains. The menu is HUGE. Each dish has a number and there are over 120 items...  Read More

Red Enchilada Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins


Red Enchilada is one of those places that locals know about but is a bit off the radar. It's also off the beaten path in a small strip mall off Cerrillos Road. The interior is downright casual but the food, a mix of northern New Mexican and...  Read More

Del Charro
Photo courtesy of Del Charro


Del Charro Saloon, just a few short blocks from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, is a popular spot with both locals and tourists. They have a winning combination: location and reasonably priced, well prepared food. It's a place where diners can...  Read More


Meet Billie Frank

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the...  More About Billie