Part of Water Street is blocked off Friday for outdoor dining that had been intended outside Coyote Café. It’s among many high-end downtown restaurants that have closed entirely rather than try to stay open during winter for outdoor service and takeout.

This will be a winter of discontent for Santa Fe foodies seeking fine dining.

Many of the city’s higher-end restaurants have shut down indefinitely, electing to eschew outdoor service or takeout, the only options currently allowed by state public health orders.

The Compound, Geronimo, Santacafé, Coyote Cafe, Sazón, Sassella, Restaurant Martín and Market Steer all closed during the November lockdown and none have reopened. Bouche Bistro, Trattoria A Mano and Lucky Goat — all owned by NM Fine Dining, a string of popular, mostly fine dining establishments — closed in March and will not reopen until the pandemic subsides.

The changes haven’t gone unnoticed, with diners trying to adjust.

“We’ve dealt with it pretty well,” said Santa Fe’s Bruce Legler, who, with his wife Anne, visited Restaurant Martín every couple of weeks. “We’re doing takeout twice a week. We’re doing Joseph’s [Culinary Pub] on Saturday and then El Mesón. We’re getting by.”

The Leglers say they also order takeout from Whole Hog Café, Fiesta Oaxaca and Raaga-Go. They can’t get the fine dining restaurant environment to which they were accustomed but are taking it in stride

“We make it fine dining ourselves,” said Legler, adding they transfer the food from cartons to fine china and break out stemware for their wine collection. “Except we have to serve ourselves and do the cleanup.”

Without Santa Fe’s fine dining juggernauts, the city’s restaurant outlook isn’t far different from other cities. And it’s not just more expensive restaurants that are taking a hit. Cowgirl BBQ announced in November it would remain closed for three months. Second Street Brewery posted Monday on Facebook that all three locations have closed until further notice. They closed over the Dec. 5-6 weekend.

Second Street has had dining only at its Rufina location since the pandemic started, but taprooms were open at the original location on Second Street and at the Railyard.

“Twenty-five percent of outdoor space is just not enough to work with,” said Second Street brewmaster Rod Tweet, the company’s president. “That and COVID cases are not going in the right direction. I’m thinking that’s three months.”

Second Street will focus entirely on beer canning for the immediate future, Tweet said.

The National Restaurant Association reports 17 percent of the nation’s restaurants or more than 110,000 have already closed because of the pandemic and another “500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an economic free fall.”

Il Piatto on Marcy Street permanently closed during the first lockdown in spring, and the space is available for lease. Eloisa at Drury Plaza Hotel, Cafe Sonder and Restaurant L’Olivier also closed permanently.

The carnage is all too apparent for Restaurant Martín co-owner Jennifer Rios. “It will be incredibly difficult for our segment,” Rios said. “Without substantial economic stimulus, many more of them will close. I’m at the restaurant right now looking at a gas bill, electric bill and sewer bill. How do you pay bills, rent and have enough capital to reopen?”

It’s not hard to see the reality, particularly in the tourist areas of downtown.

Geronimo, one of two AAA Four Diamond restaurants in New Mexico, states on its website: “Due to the current public health order in New Mexico, Geronimo will remain closed until the state re-opens restaurant interior dining rooms.”

Coyote Cafe had the largest street dining area. The barriers remain in place, but the restaurant is closed.

Sazón and Sassella, where Lawrence Becerra is co-owner, have also shuttered.

“We’re not going to have people eat outside,” Becerra said.

Even restaurants that had been able to do well in a takeout model have decided to shut down until indoor dining can resume.

The Compound had an “unbelieve to-go Thanksgiving” and was open for takeout the following Friday and Saturday but has since closed, owner and chef Mark Kiffen said.

“We’re not really a to-go restaurant,” he said. “We did it all summer. We are not going to reopen until Santa Fe is back to yellow.”

As of Dec. 2, New Mexico counties are rated on red, yellow or green levels based on their number of COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests. To reach the yellow level, counties must have eight or fewer average daily cases per 100,000 residents during a two-week period or 5 percent or fewer positive test results.

Santa Fe, for the two-week span ending Nov. 30, averaged 90.1 cases per 100,000 and a positive test rate of 15.5 percent. Santa Fe would have to lower its average case rate to 12 or fewer cases per day, which last happened Oct. 19, or drop to 5 percent test positivity, which last happened Oct. 13-26, according to state Department of Health statistics.

At the yellow level, restaurants can have 25 percent indoor capacity and 75 percent outdoor capacity, according to state health guidelines.

The yellow level is not good enough for Jennifer Rios, who with her husband Martin co-owns Restaurant Martín, which closed Nov. 14 just before the second lockdown.

“We have not reopened at all,” Jennifer Rios said. “We have no plans to do to-go and exterior dining. We don’t want to bastardize our product. You should not sit outside when it’s 36 degrees. We probably won’t be able to reopen until the weather gets warmer, probably around Easter.”

Restaurant Martín will wait until occupancy limits are over.

“We will be cautious about reopening until it’s something that sticks,” she said. “When we reopen, it’s one time.”

(29) comments

Marielle Valenzuela

These establishments do seem to lack the "can do" attitude that America is known for. They're already socialists ready to acquiesce to being lost in the shuffle and don't mind losing their businesses because after all, with Biden in office they'll have a check to cover it all in no time! lol

Funny Albuquerque restaurants are busting chops to find ways to provide patio dining that is workable and comfortable — even some high end spots. They are investing in heating these outdoor spaces and working hard to provide something to the people of Albuquerque as well as to try to break even in this insane, unnecessary, Blue State lockdown madness. Take your sneering and wallow in it — those who are too good to piddle with patios. You make your own failure ripe.

Bobby Peru

Fine dining in Santa Fe? What a joke.

Duke Klauck

It’s hard enough for a restaurant to make it in normal times. Pivoting to the constant disruptions caused by the pandemic is enough to cause any owner to despair. I don’t blame any restauranteur who has chosen to sit this one out. I also completely support our Governor, who is doing more to keep us safe than the vast majority of her contemporaries.

At izanami and Ten Thousand Waves, even without profit, we feel an obligation to our guests to do whatever we can to maintain a modicum of normalcy and to ameliorate the pain of this challenging time. We also feel an obligation to the 85 employees still getting by with the employment we can provide to them.

We’ve built a beautiful covered outdoor pavilion, heated by radiant gas burners and fire pits and are welcoming diners 7 nights a week with hot food, hot sake, cook it yourself hot pots, and good cheer. We also have some of the best takeout and delivery in town.

Please support us and the many fine Santa Fe restaurants who are still here for you—Joseph’s, La Boca, Arroyo Vino, Zacatlan, Terra, Fiesta Oxaca, and many others. Your support will make it more likely we’ll still be here when this is all over.

duke klauck


Gus Walbolt

Support the local restaurants that offer food to go or outdoor dining and tip well.

Samuel Herrera

Restaurants need to adapt. Those that are closing waiting until things go back to “normal” will wait forever. “Fine dining”: eating fru fru food at high prices with pretty plating is a thing of the past. Kudos to those restaurants who are adapting to the new environment.

Marielle Valenzuela

Fine dining is not a thing of the past just because you are personal gleeful at the troubles of businesses you sneer at or can't afford. You are welcome to your own miserable outlook — please don't spread it like the virus. Stay home and be quiet with you Hamburger Helper.

Hillary Hudson

Let me guess, you have an income greater than 1 mil a year?

Hillary Hudson

Do not insult my hamburger helper you elitist!!!!! Do you dine on cavier at every meal?

Cynthia Baughman

Some suggestions for those looking for fine dining takeout:

1) La Boca, on Marcy Street is excellent. Try the Paella Classica to go, for one, two, or four. Pick up a quart of Spanish Mushroom Soup for the next day.

2) Arroyo Vino has been exceptionally creative with takeout throughout the pandemic, offering fully-prepared meals and finish-at-home meals. Dinner and a Movie options pair a themed prepare-at-home dinner and a bottle of wine with a movie that's available for streaming. An elevated pandemic stay-at-home treat.

3) Terra at the Four Seasons has a takeout menu, and also a gorgeous patio heated by super powerful heaters. We celebrated a special birthday there recently and were very comfortable even as the temperature dropped to 28 degrees.

4) Izanami at Ten Thousand Waves also has a gorgeous heated patio and terrific takeout.

5) For delicious and very affordable takeout, try Tres Colores at the intersection of Marcy and Lincoln. Open 7-4.

Very sad to hear about Il Piatto. So many good times there.

Jason bass

If you’re looking for fantastic takeout check out Bistro 315. The French fried Chicken is to die for!! And the ribs😍😍.

They’re takeout menu is out of this world!!

david J.

The Governor has yet to suggest what form of financial help will be offered up to the businesses, and just as importantly, their staffs, while her jackbooted foot is on their financial necks.

Ina Wild

Not to mention the many working class Santa Fe folks who work in these restaurants to support their families. Without additional government support and many unemployment claims ending at the end of the year, Santa Fe is likely to face big changes.

The inconvenience of diners and their loss of expensive meals and pleasure is not the real issue here. Restaurants and workers without income are really hurting.

Kimberley Sheffield

I have been looking for a link to business closings and the unemployment numbers directly connected to those businesses. While these restaurants MAY reopen, their employees are without jobs NOW. This article only made a probably decent couple look like snobs. (I don’t know them).

Lee DiFiore

We all have grisy to thank for this devastation. Not a fine dining type but it's important we all develop long memories until 2022 when she is up for reelection. Covid will be a distant memory but we must remember her tyranny.

Angel Ortiz

Perhaps you ought to consider relocation? Texas?

Lee DiFiore

I'd prefer grishy relocate. To anywhere?

Paul Groh

Absolutely. Our governor is doing anwonderful job.

Hillary Hudson

Would it also be fair to guess that you think the only appropriate place for a woman is the kitchen?

Richard Irell

I hope that they all survive and that their employees as well.

Pete Gurule

So funneling everyone into Walmart, Target and fast food restaurants for those that go there is a safe COVID bet? While our city quietly loses one of the hallmarks of why it was awesome to live here? I’ve lived here my whole life and seeing all the small businesses going under while the governor allows the big boxes to stay open is appalling and makes less than no sense.

Barry Rabkin

It makes a great deal of sense to not have any indoor dining during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Eating means taking off your mask ... and you should never take off your mask when you leave your home. Obviously, you should rarely leave your home either. What is there about not exposing others to infection and hospitalization can you not understand? Saving lives and not overwhelming our healthcare system are significantly more important that keeping restaurants open.

Carol Adams

You need to stay home and let the rest of us go to harmless restaurants.

Bill Cass

I split my time between GA and NM. GA restaurants are open. Economy is thriving, and the COVID rate is less than or the same as NM. These shutdowns are based on politics, not science.

angela chavez

Enjoy Georgia and wear your mask when in Santa Fe

Angel Ortiz

I am born and raised here as well and if you think fine dining and shopping are what makes Santa Fe special, you are totally missing out bro.

angela chavez

As a muti generational native I might suggest to the Ledgers and everyone else who finds it an inconvenience that the world is experiencing during this shared pandemic - join the thousands of people waiting for hours for food distribution st local food banks. You can bring your own white table cloth and candles.

Rikki West

Exactly....the deafness of these diners is unbelievable. People complaining about not going out to eat when the staff of these establishments are barely surviving.

They should be donating their money to a Save Santa Fe Restaurants and Employees fund.

Marielle Valenzuela

Yes, waiting for food distribution like good little Socialists. You are being so well groomed and cooperating in your unfolding misery so well! Herr Lujan Grisham didn't even have to work hard. What a bunch of Stockholm Syndrome Sweeties!

Marielle Valenzuela

You really don't understand the economy of Santa Fe, do you? How pathetic.

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