A Path Less Taken

Graham Dodds, the chef and owner behind NOSA Restaurant & Inn, tucked away in the picturesque embrace of the Ojo Caliente River Valley, is a man straddling two worlds. His first spins on the axis of the insatiable wanderlust that courses through his veins, a wanderlust that became apparent when he couldn’t give two hoots about his fine art classes back in college. It set him on a culinary path, where he graced the finest kitchens of Dallas, trekked through culinary school in Portland, OR, and embarked on culinary escapades across Europe. The outcome is nothing short of a flurry of culinary creativity, Pollock on every meticulously plated dish.

But there’s another side to Graham, one that’s quieter, more contemplative, and deeply connected to the land. Like so many before him, he’s drawn to the magnetic pull of the Ojo Caliente River Valley. This is where dreamers and thinkers have sought refuge, a place that has nurtured restless souls and offered healing through its ancient spring waters for as long as time can remember. While notables like Georgia O’Keeffe and Thomas Merton might have staked their claims on Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, and Christ in the Desert Monastery further west, it’s here, in this valley of spiritual resonance, that Graham Dodds has found his own slice of serenity.

During his visit to the Valley during the pandemic, he crossed paths with the new proprietor of what was once the renowned Rancho de San Juan, a place that had closed in 2012. The encounter ignited a spark in Dodds and, from that moment, he couldn’t help but let his imagination run wild with dreams of opening his very own restaurant.

“I obsessed about the place for about eight months. It was this perfect place with four guestrooms, a remarkable restaurant with an incredible history and an apartment in the back for me to live in.”

NOSA stands for North of Santa Fe. In the Galician language it means nuestra.

Eventually, the property changed hands and with the new owners, Dodds penned an agreement and began the work on what would become NOSA, which stands for North of Santa Fe or from the Galician language meaning nuestra.

Dodd’s NOSA Restaurant and Inn recently marked its first-year milestone, and in that brief span, has carved out quite a reputation. It’s an establishment that demands a well-thought-out pilgrimage, where you had better have your pre- and post-dinner plans locked in advance. This isn’t the place where you casually stroll up after catching a late-night show at the Lensic. Here, dinner is an event unto itself, a meticulously curated, seasonal, five-course pre-fixe affair. It’s a culinary conversation that manages the weight of high expectations from the very moment you walk through the door until the final bite disappears.

“It’s encouraging that people are loving it.”

For the ultimate NOSA adventure, consider booking one of their beautifully appointed suites to immerse yourself in the full sensory experience. But let’s be crystal clear here–the window to indulge in their culinary offerings is not wide. You’re looking at dinner, exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays, with a singular seating at the stroke of 6:30 p.m. If brunch is more your style, Sundays are your canvas, offering two sittings at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Breakfast is a well-orchestrated affair for the privileged guests of the Inn, but you’ll need to reserve your spot at the table for 9 a.m. sharp. So, if you aim to capture the essence of NOSA, get your plans in gear, choose your moment wisely, and prepare to savor every moment.

“The menu changes constantly. You get some ingredients that change, and the dishes come together in response to those changes. It’s great to have this environment where you have a small audience and people can come continually and have something different. Typically, it’s a wholly different menu every weekend,” says Dodds.

The recent NOSA menu is testament to the imagination of Chef Graham Dodds.

Among his offerings: a succulent Wagyu beef tartare with gribiche, and pickled vegetables served alongside a spelt baguette. The Corn Chowder is a comfort, infused with saffron and a hint of jalapeño, and crowned with a dollop of creme fraiche. For a hearty main course, the Bison Moussaka takes center stage, showcasing tender bison meat, chestnut mushrooms, and a velvety Parmesan bechamel, all enveloped in a San Marzano tomato sauce. To conclude, a Blackberry Semifreddo beckons, a sweet harmony of blackberries, lavender honey, and local peaches.

It’s often true that some of the most extraordinary dining experiences require a journey off the beaten path. However, it’s equally true that some of the most cherished culinary memories held in heart and mind are right within arm’s reach. In the case of Graham Dodds, he didn’t choose to open his restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but rather in the place where exceptional food should and could be savored – a place where diners can unplug from the distractions of the modern world, and share a meal across the table, immersed in the captivating connection of one another’s undivided attention.

Story by Gabe Gomez / Photography by Tira Howard

Subscribe to TABLE Magazine’s print edition.


Choose your region

We respect your privacy.


Related Articles

A Taste of Local Terroir for Spring Travel 2024

How about a taste of terroir for Spring travel 2024?

New Mexico Chef’s Favorite Day Off Eateries

Get the tasty inside scoop from some of New Mexico's chefs.

Sommelier Kristina Hayden Bustamante Shares Her Wine Journey

Learn how to sip graciously from Santa Fe Sommelier Kristina Hayden Bustamante.