La Casa Sena: Santa Fe, New Mexico

In the 1860s, La Casa Sena was a hacienda-style adobe that the Sena family called home. Today, in the same Sena Plaza, Santa Fe locals dine in that same homey hacienda enjoying similar regional ingredients served to the Sena Family, over 150 years ago.

Location: La Casa Sena, located at 125 East Palace Avenue, Number 20, on the Sena Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Find the restaurant’s website here.

Menu: The menu features New American West cuisine influenced by New Mexico’s fresh seasonal ingredients, so you’ll find offerings made from ingredients like trout, zucchini, green chiles, and chocolate.

The chef marks gluten-free items on the menu. While he doesn’t indicate vegetarian and vegan options on the list, your server can assist you in making the right choice. Some vegetarian dishes include the stuffed poblano pepper or the traditional cheese enchiladas.

An award-winning wine list accompanies the menu – where La Casa Sena’s wine shop received Wine Spectator’s “Best Award of Excellence” for 18 consecutive years. They have over 15,000 bottles of wine between their wine store and two restaurants representing wines from all over the world. They store the wine in appropriately climate-controlled environments to ensure the wine’s quality when serving. The restaurant prides itself on pairing wine and food.

Thoughts: The venue incorporates three different settings, so you’ll find the perfect backdrop to fit your mood and occasion. First, La Casa Sena restaurant resides in a historic hacienda-style adobe with elegant upscale décor. Butcher paper covers the white table linens to blend in with the hacienda elements of rough-hewn exposed beams and black wrought iron chandeliers. The roaring fire burning in the fireplace takes the chill off the crisp autumn day. Perfect for a romantic date. You can enjoy lunch or dinner in the restaurant.

Then the cantina is a more casual area, with Broadway singing waiters to add to your dining entertainment. An excellent setting for a group dinner, as the cantina only serves dinner.

Finally, during the summer, the patio is perfect for summer outdoor dining. You can enjoy dining in the open-air courtyard full of fresh air and flowers.

My favorite dishes at La Casa Sena include:

  • The stuffed poblano pepper. This large poblano is charred on the outside to black in some parts. The chile is then opened and stuffed with a combination of quinoa, black beans, calabacitas (zucchini), and corn. In contrast, a bright red romesco sauce tops the blackened poblano. For a hint of freshness, they garnish the dish with a single thin radish slice and a leaf of Friese.
  • The dulce de cajeta churro. This dessert has several components. I chose it because, after the spicy poblano pepper dish, I wanted to cool down the spice, and this dish did just that. The first component was the chilled chocolate soup, served in a clear drinking glass. It made the perfect dip for the churro component of the dish, but I also found myself just eating the smooth, creamy chocolate mixture with a spoon. Fresh sliced strawberries, whipped cream rosettes, and sprigs of mint garnished the dish. Several pools of dulce de leche decorated the plate and made another dip for the cinnamon and sugar churro.

I suggest reservations for dinner and during the peak summer season.

Price Range: Starters range from $11 for the house-made tortilla chips to $23 for the steamed black mussels or the green chile-lobster mac and cheese. The seasonal soup is $9 for a bowl. Salads run from $13 for the Caesar salad to $15 for the wasabi kale salad. Entrees range from $16 for the stuffed poblano pepper to $23 for the Salmon Niçoise. Desserts are about $10— lunch for two runs about $60, including taxes and gratuity.

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