Zia Diner (Santa Fe, NM)

We planned our trip to Santa Fe while we were still staying with our WorkAway hosts outside Albuquerque. When they heard about our trip, they were quick to suggest Zia Diner, a restaurant they had enjoyed when they had gone with their friend Dan, a Santa Fe resident. We always appreciate recommendations, so we decided to check it out.

Zia Diner describes itself as serving “upscale, down home comfort food” and “updated renditions of diner classics” – the kind of food you want to eat on a cold, February night. But while the food may be classic, the interior atmosphere is of the restaurant is definitely upscale, artsy and modern, with funky paintings on the wall and contemporary furniture for the patrons.

Green Chili Cheese Fries

Happy Hour at Zia Diner runs from 3-6 p.m. daily, and during that time they run a number of $3.00 appetizer specials. We figured we would take advantage of the deal (and a glass of the $4 house wine…), so we decided to try some Green Chili Cheese Fries.

This is definitely a tasty and filling appetizer for $3.00! A heaping portion of thick-cut, fried potatoes are topped with an abundance of cheddar-jack cheese and green chili sauce. No skimping on the portions of anything here! The spicy chili and creamy cheese were great additions to the fries. The only downside was that the chili sauce made for slighty soggy fries.

Shepherd’s Pie

Since we had gone to Zia Diner with the intention of ordering dessert (it was Edie’s birthday), and since our cheesy, fried appetizer was fairly filling on its own, we decided to share an entree inside of each getting our own. Of course we opted for something on the lighter side – Shepherd’s Pie.

For those of you who don’t know (this was Edie’s first taste of the dish!), Shepherd’s Pie is “a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.” Specifically, Shepherd’s Pie will have mutton or lamb in addition to beef – and the dish at Zia Diner lived up to the name.

Large amounts of ground beef and lamb were mixed with carrots and peas, scooped into a large ramekin, then topped with fluffy mashed potatoes. This was the definition of comfort food. In addition, it was incredibly flavorful and filling. We gobbled it up in no time.

Black Midnight Cake

Since we were both getting our own desserts instead of sharing, Scott decided to give in to his chocolate cravings and chose the Black Midnight Cake. [Edie lives a sad existence, abstaining from chocolate since it upsets her stomach – pity her.]

This is what chocolate cake should be. Dense. Rich. Creamy. Decadent. It wasn’t elaborate – no additional flavors to take away from the chocolate and no crazy icing or toppings to take away from the basic chocolate icing. It was just pure chocolate goodness. And the portion was huge. Plenty to share unless you have a girlfriend who doesn’t eat chocolate – so Scott sucked it up and finished the whole thing himself. What a trooper.

Custard Bread Pudding

Edie loves bread pudding; Scott does not understand her fascination with what he describes as “soggy bread.” So since we weren’t sharing desserts, it was an opportunity for Edie to order bread pudding.

Alas, although the portion was huge and the flavor was good, this bread pudding does not rank high in our dessert experiences. It was served cold and with a basic creme anglaise. Edie will always prefer her bread pudding served warm and topped with a rum or whiskey sauce.


Our server Francisco was friendly and efficient, though definitely not a native English speaker. Our orders came out perfectly, but you could tell Francisco wasn’t quite sure how to take Scott’s joke about the desserts being awful so we had to eat every bite!

Overall Value

Our total was $47.00, and that included a glass of wine, a beer, tip and all the food listed above. Perhaps a bit pricier than we like, but (a) we were celebrating Edie’s birthday, (b) we had alcohol, and (c) the beef in the Shepherd’s Pie was grass-fed. Considering all that, it was a great meal for two for under $50.

The Doggy Bag, By Knox

Another meal for Scott and Mommy, another stay in the truck for me. Life is so unfair. I thought dogs were supposed to be man’s best friend??? But I digress…

You’d think that, given the food described above, Mommy and Scott would have brought me a few bites of cheesy fries or mashed potatoes or beef & lamb or even bread pudding, but no. They were selfish and gobbled it all up themselves (they always say how I could miss a few meals, but I think these two could handle a few misses, too!). Don’t they know that meat & potatoes are what makes a dog happy?!?!

Luckily, so I don’t have to bite them in their sleep, they were smart enough not to forget the dog entirely. They bought me my very own peanut butter cookie from the diner’s bakery. Yummy!!! The only bad part was that Mommy insisted on making me play tug-of-war to get the cookie. Mommy and her darn photo-ops!

Overall Ratings

Green Chile Cheese Fries
Shepherd’s Pie
Black Midnight Cake
Bread Pudding
Overall Value
Final Rating
Knox’s Rating