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The Compound Restaurant is a Santa Fe Classic

By S. Mathur

The Compound Restaurant wins top honors in several categories: internationally known, accidentally stumbled upon, locally loved. No matter how they discovered it, all who have experienced the food at The Compound agree that it is one of the best things about Santa Fe. It is also an integral part of the city's history, beginning with the building itself. "The McComb Compound," explains Private Dining and Special Events Manager Jane Steele, "was a group of small casitas surrounded by a wall. In the 1920's -1930's The Compound housed many artists."

The Compound is regularly rated at the top of "Santa Fe's Best" lists, but it's also very much a Santa Fe tradition supported by locals. Steele says, "We are located halfway up Canyon Road, but we aren't directly on the street. We are a little hidden and truly a local favorite. The Compound opened for business in 1966 so next year we celebrate 50 years helping the people of Santa Fe celebrate something - prom, engagements, wedding, memorials and just a simple weekday lunch. We are part of the community and a Santa Fe institution."

Chef-Owner Mark Kiffin, named the "Best Chef of the Southwest 2005" by the James Beard Foundation, specializes in contemporary American cuisine, Southwestern style with Mediterranean touches. The history of the region is reflected in the cuisine, which incorporates the grains, vegetables and meats brought by the Spanish colonists. The menu changes according to the seasons to make best use of locally-available ingredients. Fall specials include Swedish meatballs, cauliflower soup, and a new bourbon and apple cider cocktail. Special Thanksgiving and holiday dinners have been a regular feature since the 1960s. There are also special brunch menus for Easter and Mothers' Day.

In the summer, al fresco dining in the patio adds an extra-celebratory touch to meals. The decor in the restaurant is simple, with whitewashed traditional adobe walls and plain seating. That allows the focus to remain squarely on the food. The best dish on the menu, Steele says, depends on whom you ask: "Some would say it is the Chicken Schnitzel or the Onion Rings. Others would argue that the bar menu is the best since the bar is packed almost every night -getting a seat at the bar without a reservation is almost impossible."

As a community member, The Compound regularly participates in local events and fundraisers for many groups, says Steele, "This last year, we helped The Cancer Foundation of Santa Fe raised money to provide care for Santa Feans who need help while going through treatment. And plans are in the works for community celebration for the 50th Anniversary in June 2016."

For visitors looking to top off a day's sightseeing or hiking, or locals celebrating a special event, The Compound is a Santa Fe classic. As one might expect, reservations are necessary to avoid disappointment, and can be made by calling (505) 982-4353.

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