Santa Fe Café is the only place on Hilton Head Island to find authentic Southwestern cuisine, and nothing is more representative of this favorite locals’ eatery than a bowl of painted desert soup. Made from red pepper, corn, Mexican cream and mole, it’s a feast for the eyes and palate. Regional dishes plus traditional Mexican recipes are the stars of the menu at this vibrant, refined restaurant with a New Mexico look. 

Santa Fe Café’s rooftop cantina is the eatery’s most popular spot throughout the year. Live entertainment on the rooftop every Tuesday through Saturday. The cantina’s a kiva fireplace and white pine, custom-designed bar— make this romantic and inviting space perfect for having a drink and enjoying some appetizers.

Marshall Sampson and Sean Crosby are the owners of Santa Fe Café, which has been bringing islanders and visitors the flavors of the American Southwest for almost 25 years. Sampson runs the front of the house and Crosby is behind the scenes focusing on the food. 

Every year, they re-fresh the décor. The result is a visually-pleasing atmosphere that welcomes diners inside.

Some choose to sit at the chef’s counter to observe the restaurant’s open kitchen where a skilled team prepares signature dishes including mesquite grilled lamb chops; grilled pork tenderloin with smoked habanero BBQ sauce; chipotle-parmesan encrusted grouper; and Santa Fe Café’s famous ribeye burrito. 

Lunch: Mon. – Fri. 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., dinner: 5-10 p.m. nightly. 807 William Hilton Pkwy #700, Hilton Head Island. 843-785-3838 or