Santa Fe Shoppers’ Survival Guide: Disinterested Husbands Edition

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Things to Do

Save your sweetie from sitting in this seat!

Santa Fe is well known for delivering top-drawer retail therapy! An itinerary with ample time for wandering our gallery-laden, shop-lined streets is a must for Santa Fe travelers. But if your guy is like mine, his patience for shopping is nil. But there’s no reason to let hubby be bored in our happening town! Take my hints for partner-friendly activities while you browse the boutiques and everyone goes home happy.

Santa Fe’s Museums Are Partner-Perfect Adventures

Beyond the wealth of artistic treasures on display in Santa Fe’s world-class museums there’s also a world of history and New Mexican culture close at hand. The New Mexico History Museum’s extensive collection is housed in a state-of-the-art building adjacent to the 400-plus-year-old Palace of the Governors. Step in either and emerge hours later; there’s plenty to see. Photo buffs (who isn’t one on encountering New Mexico?) will be captivated by the Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography exhibit at the History Museum.

This undated pinhole photo of San Francisco de Asis Church by Dallas Sells is currently on view at the New Mexico History Museum. (Palace of the Governors Photo Archives)

This undated pinhole photo of San Francisco de Asis Church by Dallas Sells is currently on view at the New Mexico History Museum. (Palace of the Governors Photo Archives)

The Palace of the Governors is an engaging chronicle of colonial New Mexico. Just to see the adobe walls and aged floorboards and stand in the courtyard under the same sky as the Spanish gobernadors – that alone is worth the price of admission.

After the History Museum whets the appetite, delving deeper into the Land of Enchantment’s past comes via the New Mexico National Guard Military Museum. Storied figures like Kit Carson fought on the Union side in the Civil War era and New Mexicans served with Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders. World War Two’s Pacific Theater intelligence relied on the Navajo Code Talkers’ unique skills, and the notorious Bataan Death March claimed many of our native sons. New Mexico boasts one of the nation’s largest per capita veterans populations, with their experiences intriguingly represented at this fascinating museum.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s definitely worth taking a drive to the New Mexico National Guard Military Museum where memorabilia from every era of service is on display.

And as you’re touring downtown Santa Fe, look for the statue of Santa Fe native Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry who was awarded the Medal of Honor in for service in Afghanistan.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, military

Medal of Honor winner Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry was in attendance at the dedication of his statue outside Santa Fe’s City Hall in June 2013. (Photo Credit: NM Watchdog)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Danny Boy, The Greens, The Greens Are Calling

While museum-going is a must in Santa Fe, being outdoors may be equally tempting for your travel buddy. Suggest a round of golf at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, a city course surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges. With 320-plus days of sun, golfing is year-round activity in Santa Fe. The Baxter Spann course is a par three known as “The Great 28.” And those 18 holes can be followed by a brew and the view at the Links Bar and Grill.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Golf, Sports

Tee up to 360 views at the Marty Sanchez Links. (Photo Credit: Golf New Mexico)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Him Get His Game On

If your partner wants to watch the pros get sporty, there’s no shortage of spots. While you’re strolling the Railyard trolling for vintage treats, he can pull up a seat at Junction, where the big screen schedule lets him follow his fantasy players as he savors a burger and a brew. If you’re scoping out the southside, Blue Corn Brewery has him covered with craft beer and a gameday schedule. And a simple barstool perch at the Santa Fe Bar and Grill is a destination Santa Feans have enjoyed for years.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sports, Bars

There’s a screen tuned to every taste at the Junction!

A Spirited Adventure Comes in a Glass

Forego your last round of treasure hunting and rejoin your other half at Santa Fe Spirits. It’s so relaxing to gather in the clubby interior as their friendly Chihuahua mascot Layla makes the rounds, making it the perfect place to show off your new finds to your significant other.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Drinks

If your sweetie makes a date to sip a martini (locally handcrafted vodka or gin) with Layla, there’s no need to worry – she’s only interested in the snacks!

The craft liquor selection – two malt whiskies (Silver Coyote and Colkegan), Wheeler’s Gin, Expedition Vodka and Apple Brandy – is created on the southern edge of town, and the distillery tour is a fun way to the time. Tasting is a must at both locations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free to be You and Me City-Different Style

Give yourselves a break. Grab a Santa Fe hotel deal and let each pursue different personal pleasures as you both discover the best of Santa Fe. Now that’s what I call smart shopping!

 

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Getting Your Just Desserts in Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s culinary scene is renowned the world over mostly for its fiery chile. But a bevy of bakeries and chocolatiers are sweetening up Santa Fe’s dining scene. From unusual cupcakes to creative caramels, Santa Fe’s sweeter side perfectly complements our fiery cuisine—and sometimes combines with it. Chocolate chile, anyone?

Gluten-free is Full-Flavor at Revolution Bakery

Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.

Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.

Life is uncertain – eat dessert first. I honor that saying by starting healthy at Revolution Bakery. My mother raised a family of sticky bun devotees, and I follow Mom’s recipe to the letter when I bake at home. Revolution Bakery’s version of this classic breakfast goodie is made with a mix of brown rice, tapioca and sorghum flours and speckled with chopped pecans and cinnamon. Everything at the Bakery is 100-percent gluten-free and 100-percent delicious. It’s no wonder there’s always a line at this revolutionary restaurant. Mind you, I’m a good girl – I do wait to open the box of gluten-free cookies until after lunch!

Be Sweet to Your Body at BODY Café

Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.

Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.

I admit to a sweet addiction but I also want to make wholesome choices. Fortunately, these two goals are not mutually exclusive when I satisfy my yen for something yummy at the BODY Café. This vegan-friendly dessert destination is on my short list for afternoon delights. I’m happy to lunch on raw carrots but raw vegan carrot cake? Now that’s a discovery! Coated with macadamia nut frosting and healthy as can be, it proves why raw food lovers flock to desserts like this. BODY’s vegan cookies are always at the ready and as for the gluten-free chocolate ganache torte – I’m not sharing!

Find Your Chocolate Fix at Kakawa

Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa.

Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa. Photo Courtesy of: Kakawa

Chocolate is on my list of the best things in life (thank goodness research finally concluded it’s good for you). When I’m in the mood to linger over a liquid dessert, Kakawa Chocolate House satisfies the urge. Voted one of the top places in the world to drink hot chocolate, Kakawa takes your tastebuds on a trip around the globe. From Thomas Jefferson’s own sweet 1790s recipe to rich Meso-American elixirs with deep dark flavor, the only problem is choosing just one. Fortunately, Kakawa’s knowledgeable staff will pour a sippin’ sample to help fulfill your fancy. And if a sip is not enough, I suggest salted chocolate-covered caramels to go.

Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!

Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!

Truffle Hunting is Easy at C.G. Higgins

When I want my chocolate to go – or when it’s time to send a signature treat to friends and family – I’m grateful C.G. Higgins (known locally as Chuck’s) has two spots in Santa Fe to pick up a box of succulent sweets. It’s hard to argue with handmade truffles in exotic flavors. Of course, chile makes an appearance! As a fudge fan who watched longingly as Mom dropped molten chocolate into cold water to test its readiness, I can report that Chuck’s does fudge proud. Santa Fe souvenirs should include chile caramel corn or piñon nut brittle, as both honor New Mexico’s agricultural heritage. And after wandering the downtown galleries, I look forward to a pick-me-up of Taos Cow’s piñon caramel ice cream – mmmmm!

Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Bake Me a Treat

More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.

More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.

With the Farmers’ Market and an active gallery scene, I spend plenty of time in the Santa Fe Railyard area so it’s nice to have a go-to for goodies. The Swiss Bakery and Bistro is open all three meals of the day, but I’m happy to graze when it’s time for dessert. At this altitude, a successful croissant or Napoleon is a notable achievement, and the Swiss Bakery has perfected them both. I never (I mean never) say no to an éclair, and I make no apologies for ordering two of the mini versions. Fresh fruit tarts come full-size or miniature, but I have switched my dessert allegiance to the petites because that means I can sample raspberry and strawberry and apricot too.

Don’t Desert the Dessert Course

Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.

Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.

Did I make you yearn for only-in-Santa-Fe treats? I hope so, since every word is delectably true. Put dessert on your list of what to do in Santa Fe and you can discover just how sweet it is to be here.

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Santa Fe is a Craft Beer Bonanza

I’m spelling this month Octobeer because autumn is the perfect time for exploring Santa Fe’s booming craft breweries. Local brew has deep roots – witness this April 29, 1889 journal entry from archeologist Adolph Bandelier (for whom Bandelier National Monument is named): “Went to Mass. In the afternoon to the brewery”. Why not take heed of Mr. Bandelier’s suggestion and come along with me on a foamy foray?

It’s All in the Name and In the Beer Too

Tucked in Santa Fe’s southside, Santa Fe Brewing Company has 26 years in the keg. Its flagship Santa Fe Pale Ale remains the rock this brewery was built on and a plethora of specialty beers pop up seasonally.  Right now, I have my eye on – you guessed it – Oktoberfest, a cheery ode to the season that I can’t resist and the 2014 bronze medal winner at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival in the American Sour Ale category, the brewery’s very own Kriek.

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A refreshing afternoon is always on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company.

Two tasting rooms on opposite ends of the county (the brewery perched on the Turquoise Trail and the Eldorado taproom off I-25 north) make casual get-togethers a breeze. Cap off your experience with tours at the brewery location. Small Batch Saturdays feature five-gallon experimental beers – a great pick for the best in beer-lovin’ weekends. What’s more? The brewery’s events calendar is topped off with fun.

Hit Second Street for First-rate Brews

After a long day, a glass of craft brew is a tempting notion and, thankfully, Second Street Brewery is always just around the corner. The original brewery on – where else – Second Street is a funky mix of artists’ studios, stoneyards and fitness studios. This homey pub includes a host of beers on tap. I’m a Kolsch girl myself – I love this light ale with lager-like flavor. Pairing brew with offerings like beer-back pork shanks and lots of live music guarantees a great time.

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A beer and a bright blue sky make the perfect combo at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard.

 After a Saturday morning shopping spree next door at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market or downtown gallery hopping, I stop by Second Street’s Railyard outpost for a break with a beer boost. It features the same great craft brews and the Alien Burger, winner of the 2014 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown 

Beer and New Mexico – Matchless Bar Buddies

I was a Blue Corn Café regular before they added the brewery and the 1997 decision to start brewing made things even better! Six house beers and four rotating specialties present plenty of choice for beer aficionados. Blue Corn Brewery’s aptly named Blue Corn Café and Brewery Gold Medal Stout won—yup—the gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. This latest award complements its collection of hardware for the brewhouse’s Resurgence IPA, winner of the 2013 New Mexico IPA challenge and its classic best-seller, Road Runner IPA, is a hops-lover’s dream. Boasting the same super beer selection just off the Plaza, the downtown Café is an ideal spot for enjoying classic New Mexican cuisine.

blucornsign

Like the sign says, Blue Corn Brewery is all about the craft.

 I’ve always been a sucker for their Atomic Blonde Lager and chicken fajitas make a fine companion, especially on game days! This friendly hangout puts out the welcome sign for beer socials on once-a-month Thursdays at the Brewer’s Table. And beer to go? This month, that 32 oz. growler will be filled with Night Train, a seasonal German schwarzbier (a smooth black lager) that I’m dying to try with take-out tamales.

No Need to Duel;There’s Plenty to Share

Imperial pour is a great concept and its full golden glory arrives in proper glassware at Duel Brewery. Off the beaten path and utterly craft-driven, this Belgian brewery has a creative side to complement the complex flavors of their brews. Duel’s Fiction IPA is precisely named; although they didn’t set out to make beer that would have hopheads cheering, the balance in this brew is more than enough to qualify its best-seller status.

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Duel Brewery makes it an OctoberFest-ive night out!

Given the time of year (and my German ancestors), Duel’s Octoberfest captured my full attention as accompaniment for their sausage plate. White bratwurst paired with spicy hot sausage rest on a pile of sauerkraut with Duel’s killer marble rye bread. Let’s just say I fell in love with October all over again! The beatnik atmosphere and industrial setting is my kind of pub scene. With life drawing sessions ($25 gets you a beer, a signature waffle and two hours with a live model), movie screenings and a healthy roster of live music, Duel is the place for expressing your artistic side as you explore their palette of beers.

Sample the Golden Colors of Autumn in a Glass

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A hunt for the Southwest’s best beers leads to Santa Fe.

With fall colors painting the mountains and fresh-roasted green chile appearing in restaurants all over town, what could be a better partner for the season than a frosty local beer? I definitely recommend a 2015 Santa Fe Bike and Brew getaway but don’t wait until then. I guarantee it won’t take an archaeological hunt worthy of Mr. Bandelier to craft your own beer saga this year in Santa Fe!

 

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Burritos: Santa Fe’s Breakfast of Champions

 I’m a believer – a breakfast believer, that is. The first sip of coffee lets me know I’m awake and the first meal of the day primes me for action. Let the English have their muffins and the French savor their croissants, we Santa Feans know we have the best of the bunch with that first bite of a breakfast burrito! Hand-held or smothered in chile verde or rojo (that’s green and red, for the uninitiated), there’s nothing like the spicy flavor of the Southwest to get the day off to a great start.

santa fe, new mexico, food, breakfast

Eating like a New Mexican is easy when you head for El Parasol.

El Parasol Cooks It Up On-the-Go for Those in the Know

When I’m on the go, I head straight to El Parasol. A Santa Fe Reporter  Best of Santa Fe best breakfast winner, this joint has three Santa Fe county outposts. Translation: You’re close to one no matter where you are in Santa Fe. Stuffed with eggs, potatoes, cheese and a choice of red or green chile, this is a hand-held honey. You can also order it smothered in red or green, maximizing that fantastic chile flavor.

santa fe, new mexico, food, breakfast

Oh, that Pantry burrito is a potent plate of goodness!

There’s Something Savory Waiting in the Pantry

Speaking of smothered with chile, The Pantry has you covered. This favorite locals’ hangout (voted the No.1 breakfast spot by Santa Fe Reporter readers) is always buzzing with breakfast lovers. Count me as one of the faithful. The plate-hogging burrito leaves just enough space for a side of perfectly-cooked potatoes that any Irishman would approve. Both the red and green chile versions are so good that I can never choose – I just order my burrito Christmas-style (half red, half green). The Pantry’s cheerful surroundings and the steady flow of burrito lovers make for a people-watcher’s breakfast paradise. A second – or even third – cuppa joe is accommodated with a smile and encouragement to linger. That’s my kind of breakfast!

 

Take a Breakfast Trip to Tia’s

santa fe, new mexico, food, breakfast

A spicy holiday arrives on the platter when you order a Christmas-style breakfast burrito at Tia Sophia’s.

A sense of place is an integral part of the Santa Fe culinary experience, and I make a beeline for dining spots that serve up classic Santa Fe ambiance with the meal. Tia Sophia’s is just one of those places. Since there’s no dinner service, insiders know to satisfy their craving when the day is young. Part of the extended family empire that includes Atrisco and Tomasita’s, Tia’s has been a Santa Fe go-to for as long as I can remember – no wonder 2014 Santa Fe Reporter readers voted it No. 3 for both best breakfast and best breakfast burrito. You can celebrate Christmas on the plate all year long, but if you want that Saturday morning chorizo burrito special, you’d better go early!

santa fe, new mexico, food, breakfast

A big burrito and a good buddy are all you need for a great breakfast –or lunch – or dinner – at Santa Fe Baking Company.

 

Santa Fe Baking Company Goes Beyond Baked Goods

Eating local is an integral part of my dining recipe, regardless of the time of day. If a restaurant is going to use Santa Fe in its name, I expect it to deliver – and the Santa Fe Baking Company does. When I order a breakfast burrito, the plate that arrives on my table is a welcome delight along with the all-I-can-pour Aroma Coffee. Breakfast burritos are wrapped in a white or whole wheat tortilla, and the veggie selections are a delicious addition to the variety on offer. I often grab the classic version to go, but I like to make time to savor a burrito invitingly perched on a plate swimming in chile. Since the Baking Company serves breakfast all day, if you missed morning at Tia’s, you can still get that burrito fix at day’s end.

Why Not Wake Up to Breakfast in Santa Fe?

I know you’re probably looking at your bowl of oatmeal wistfully now, but I can’t say I’m sorry for sharing the yummy truth. While you might find recipes for homemade breakfast burritos to tide you over, there’s simply no substitute for eating one here in Santa Fe, the true home of the breakfast burrito.

 

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Santa Fe a Bonanza for Film Fanatics

Santa Fe captured the visual imagination of artistic types early on and movie cameras swiftly fell under New Mexico’s spell. Just imagine Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan making their way west – onscreen – along the fabled road whose destination is Santa Fe. From the past to the present, New Mexico has been a dramatic draw for filmmakers of all stripes and our film scene is booming.

Film stars have been making their way down The Santa Fe Trail for decades!

Film stars have been making their way down The Santa Fe Trail for decades!

Turn on the Telly to see Santa Fe Shine

Santa Fe has been earning its TV cred via Longmire, the A&E weekly western based on the best-selling books by Craig Johnson. New Mexico made an ideal stand-in for the books’ Wyoming setting, and although the series suffered a sudden summer cancellation, fans mounted a Twitter “stampede” in hopes of a revival. More proof that Santa Fe is a favored site comes from Manhattan. This exciting series, now airing on WGN, was created around actual events closer to home – the birth of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos, a.k.a. the Manhattan Project. Albuquerque continues to build on its Breaking Bad years with a new spinoff, and celebrity sightings will likely continue.

New Mexico has a starring role in Manhattan! (Photo Credit: WGN America)

New Mexico has a starring role in Manhattan! (Photo Credit: WGN America)

Film Fans Get Their Festival Fix

With its vibrant film and TV industry, a town like ours is a film festival natural. And given Santa Fe’s quirky personality, the line-up in the Oct. 15-19 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is sure to feature the best indie film debuts of the year. This year, 60 feature films and a raft of shorts (debuting on Wed. night with all New Mexican short films) will be screened at venues all over town. Fascinating discussions with film-world luminaries are interspersed between screenings, and it all culminates with a closing night party at the historic Dragon Room of the Pink Adobe – now that’s a wrap!

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival brings film-lovers out in droves. (Photo Credit: Lisa Law for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival)

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival brings film-lovers out in droves. (Photo Credit: Lisa Law for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival)

If one film festival is good, more is better! The January Santa Fe Film Festival’s New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase awaits us in 2015. Santa Fe even has a truly City Different festival targeted to a very unique genre – the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival’s year-round roster has featured fascinating film fare since its 2010 origins. Their new season, opening Oct. 12, includes a first for Santa Fe: The Chosen: A Mini-Festival of New Israeli Cinema, a November Israeli film festival complete with directors’ interviews. In addition, February 2015 brings a set of fresh, intriguing Italian cinema treasures to Santa Fe – grazie, Italian Film Festival!

“Being Jewish In France” – this movie is just a sample of the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival’s riveting roster.

“Being Jewish In France” – this movie is just a sample of the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival’s riveting roster.

Independent Cinema Has a Home – or Two – in Santa Fe

Festival time or not, Santa Fe always exhibits a case of movie mania. Our movie-mad town boasts more than one indie theater for parking with a pal and a box of popcorn. The Cocteau’s calendar includes screenings of the old, new and quirky with intimate conversations with film-makers, authors, artists and performers. If you want to toast your leading lady, the Jean Cocteau Cinema is on tap with mixed drinks, beer, wine and mead (a humorous nod to theater owner/author George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones fame) and savory snacks.

The Jean Cocteau Cinema can take you “Back to the Future” and then some. (Photo Credit: Clyde Mueller for the Santa Fe New Mexican)

The Jean Cocteau Cinema can take you “Back to the Future” and then some. (Photo Credit: Clyde Mueller for the Santa Fe New Mexican)

And if you want to view with a brew, head for Brew and View screenings at Duel Brewery – yes, movies in a Belgian brew pub, with a mix of local films, indie treats and thoughtful documentaries screened every other Sunday. I’m a sucker for craft beer, especially when it’s accompanied by the wellspring of craft on display in films making their first appearance in Santa Fe.

Enjoy double the pleasure with a mug of beer and a movie at Duel Brewery. (Photo Credit: Luke A. Montavon for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Enjoy double the pleasure with a mug of beer and a movie at Duel Brewery. (Photo Credit: Luke A. Montavon for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years of movie-going have enthralled me at the CCA Cinematheque, and I bet I saw George R. R. Martin as a local movie buff before I read his books. CCA has treated film fans to a collection of first-runs, award-winning foreign films and oddball offerings for as long as I can remember. The big and beautiful screen and stellar sound system are the anti-multiplex experience. And the ample gallery space is a big plus, with exhibitions that showcase regional and national contemporary artists.

CCA is the spot for movies and great gallery exhibitions too!

CCA is the spot for movies and great gallery exhibitions too!

Legendary actress Greer Garson left her mark onscreen in the past; in the present it comes via her dedicated support of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (formerly College of Santa Fe). Her post-film life in northern New Mexico resulted in a generous legacy that created the Garson Studios and made year-round film-making a reality. One soundstage retrofitted into a quality venue became The Screen, a theater space right on campus that thrills film students and locals alike with consistent, intriguing programming.

Talent behind the camera at the Garson studios results in memorable movies on The Screen. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Laureate International Universities)

Talent behind the camera at the Garson studios results in memorable movies on The Screen. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Laureate International Universities)

See Santa Fe in Full Color on the Big Screen

Now that summer’s active outdoor days are behind us, I say it’s time to settle inside for some adventurous autumn film fun. Santa Fe definitely has more than one top-drawer temptation flickering in the wings. I promise I’ll save you a seat!

 

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Santa Fe Railyard: Where the Locals Eat

The Santa Fe Railyard has laid tracks to fun this year! Autumn arrives with the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market’s harvest produce and the Railyard Artisans Market holds creative court in the Market Pavilion on Sundays. I’m hungry for everything: live music nights at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard, the one-and-only Buckwheat Zydeco in the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Sept. 24, an all-British car show on Sept. 28 – and that’s just one month! And when I get hungry, I want to eat. Fortunately the Railyard has that part covered too.

The Railyard Tower: A beacon to good food, friends and fun

The Railyard Tower: A beacon to good food, friends and fun

Flying High in Santa Fe

As easy as eggs are to prepare, breakfast out makes me happy. And when I can have breakfast all day (and night), I am even happier. And I am happiest of all when the plate in front of me has Eggs Florentine on it. I can thank the Flying Star Cafe for this family favorite I no longer have to whip up myself. Served on a bed of polenta cakes to soak up the yummy egg yolk, this breakfast for dinner is a winner. The café’s massive menu boasts a host of appetizing choices, and whenever I just want to sit and noodle on my laptop with a scone and a cup of coffee, I fly over to this Railyard spot.

Breakfast in Florence? No, Eggs Florentine in Santa Fe!

Breakfast in Florence? No, Eggs Florentine in Santa Fe!

Tomasita’s Has New Mexican Food Down to a T

Let it be said: I love – no, I adore – our New Mexican cuisine. I never, and I mean never, get tired of anything slathered with green chile or floating in a pool of rich red chile. And let it also be noted that I never get tired of eating at Tomasita’s. From its early days as a little west-side neighborhood café to today’s Railyard food magnet, the food has remained consistently delicious and reasonably priced. Tomasita’s green and red chile are both delectably spicy and – since I can never choose – I always order my dish Christmas style (that’s red and green on the same plate). And mind you, choosing the entrée is just as big a challenge: Chile rellenos? Chicken enchiladas? Lunch or dinner, there’s always good reason to return!

Christmas served year-round at Tomasita’s

Christmas served year-round at Tomasita’s

Brewing Up Cool Santa Fe Cuisine

Octoberfest is right around the corner, and stein-lovin’ sisters like me have completed our scouting in preparation for celebrating with craft beers and complementary treats. You’ll find me toasting Ein Prosit with my pals over a pint of Kolsch at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard, The Brewery has earned its burger bona fides—winning the critic’s choice award at the 2014 Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown – but Second Street has so much more to offer. I plan to work my way through the menu – and the beers – in October and beyond. The bar snacks alone motivate me to quaff a variety of brews, but I must confess that the green chile cheese fries do seem to appear in front of me with predictable regularity.

Look out! There’s some hot chile lurking in those cheese fries at Second Street.

Look out! There’s some hot chile lurking in those cheese fries at Second Street.

The Junction of Food and Fun is in the Santa Fe Railyard

Conjunction-junction, what’s your function…remember that one? That sing-song phrase always makes me laugh when I settle down to a meal at the Junction. This sports bar has its function down: Offer good food, fun specials and a welcoming pub atmosphere (with two nine-foot pool tables, I might add) and the crowds will come. Junction even hosts a regular doggie happy hour on their porch! Having your furry companions along when you pair a local craft brew and a game on the big screen will make this joint a favorite. And I was lucky – I didn’t even have to share my fish tacos, since my honey ate before I picked him up. That meant he could have dessert, and my sweet boy did share his ooey-gooey apple pie delight.

Tacos and big screen TVs to while away an afternoon at the Junction.

Tacos and big screen TVs to while away an afternoon at the Junction.

Dining Destinations in Downtown Santa Fe’s Back (Rail)Yard

Art-browsing through SITE Santa Fe or the Artisans’ Market making you hungry? A stroll down Guadalupe Street on a vintage hunt has you calling for a glass of vino? I’ve given you a few tasty hints, but rest assured there’s more than one City Different dining delight to discover when you relax in the Santa Fe Railyard.

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Launch Balloon Fiesta Fun in Santa Fe

The first weeks of October are high times in New Mexico, especially for balloon pilots and their friends! The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 with only 13 hot air balloons and has blown up (pun intended) into the world-class festival it is today. This year, more than 600 balloons will launch from a 365-acre dedicated park. Due to a stellar 43-year safety record, visitors can amble among the balloons – which come in every shape and color combination imaginable – for up-close views and a chat with the pilots and crew.

The shapes and colors boggle the imagination at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!. (Photo Credit: visitalbuquerque.com)

The shapes and colors boggle the imagination at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!. (Photo Credit: visitalbuquerque.com)

The glorious October weather also plays a starring role, with cool mornings giving way to glorious autumn sun. Early risers catch the Dawn Patrol and the evening balloon glows offer an incredible opportunity to admire these majestic “sailboats of the air.” Balloon Fiesta is definitely a bucket-list event, and approaching it from Santa Fe is the insider’s way to get the best of everything.

A balloon glow is a magical moment. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta)

A balloon glow is a magical moment. (Photo Credit: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta)

Make Santa Fe Your Home Base for Balloon Magic

Albuquerque hotels will be bursting at the seams Oct. 4-12 during Balloon Fiesta, as the Duke City (Albuquerque’s nickname) welcomes more than 100,000 visitors for this signature event. Those in the know head north to grab a great hotel deal in the City Different. From intimate B&Bs to luxurious spa resorts, Santa Fe offers a tranquil respite from the lively action down south. What’s more, you can’t underestimate the bounty of dining possibilities in our renowned culinary destination.

The Mine Shaft in Madrid, NM is a welcome detour on the Turquoise Trail.

The Mine Shaft in Madrid, NM is a welcome detour on the Turquoise Trail.

Early morning launches mean the drive to Albuquerque includes an unforgettable sunrise over the Sandia mountain range. And after the balloons touch down, you can take the scenic drive up the Turquoise Trail to rendezvous for lunch in Madrid at the Mine Shaft Tavern, one of eight finalists in this year’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown.

Stroll and Shop to Your Heart’s Content

Take the afternoon to wander legendary Canyon Road and you’ll find colors that rival those seen in the balloon ballet above. A self-guided Canyon Road art walk is a must-do for every Santa Fe visitor. No surprise — Santa Fe’s 250 art galleries uphold our reputation as the arts capital of the Southwest. Regrouping for refreshments is a snap; simply stop at Caffe Greco for a potent Lavazza espresso or head to The Teahouse for a cuppa. You can even wind your Canyon Road day right into evening with dinner and live music at El Farol.

Canyon Road is worth some face time when you visit Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of The Eldorado Hotel and Spa)

Canyon Road is worth some face time when you visit Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of The Eldorado Hotel and Spa)

Going home with Balloon Fiesta souvenirs is fun, but shopping the Santa Fe Plaza is still numero uno in my book. Whether it’s silver, turquoise or stylish southwest clothing, you’ll find a multitude of choices, from Native American vendors under the portal at the Palace of the Governors to shops showcasing leatherwork or lacy lingerie. Galleries thrive here too, with renowned Native artists like Allan Houser and the Namingha clan ensconced on Lincoln Avenue. And food? The only problem is choosing where … carnitas from Roque’s stand or a visit to The Shed, tucked in the colorful courtyard of Sena Plaza.

The Best of Fall Grows in Santa Fe

Santa Fe boasts a bonus during the first weekend of Balloon Fiesta Oct. 4-5 since El Rancho de las Golondrinas ends its annual series of festivals with the most popular event of all: Harvest Festival. This living history museum takes you back through New Mexico regional heritage with bread baking in hornos (beehive-shaped outdoor ovens) and grapes crushed by hand. This is your opportunity to learn how to string a chile ristra, the ubiquitous autumn décor hanging from portals and porches all over the state. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of fall than a day at Golondrinas!Harvest-Festival-ristra-stringers

Look Up at the Skies then Look North to Santa Fe

The ideal launch pad for your Balloon Fiesta adventure, Santa Fe offers all of New Mexico’s beauty with a fraction of the crowds – it’s hard to argue with that prescription for pleasure. Go ahead and get high on Albuquerque’s aerial artistry and let Santa Fe provide the spot for a perfect landing.

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Santa Fe Sip by Sip

With its rich artistic heritage, it’s no wonder that Santa Fe was designated as one of UNESCO’s Creative Cities but creativity here isn’t limited to the canvas. Artists who work in a different medium – mixology – pour their City Different masterpieces into a glass. Intrigued? Let me guide you forth with these insider’s tippling tips.

I’ve Got a Secreto

There’s every reason to smile when you’re in on the secreto.

There’s every reason to smile when you’re in on the secreto.

Margaritas and the Land of Mañana — it’s a winning combination. But any Santa Fe mixologist worth his or her salt has a twist on that mix. Chris Milligan of the Secreto Lounge at Hotel St. Francis definitely had our sagebrush scenery on his mind when he created his Smoked Sage Margarita. Shake up a margarita memory with this blend of Republic Anejo Tequila, orange-infused 03 liqueur, fresh lime juice and smoked sage in a glass with a hickory-salt rim. It’s smokin’ all right, and it’s ample evidence for why locals voted Secreto as Best Cocktails winner in the 2013 Santa Fe Reporter’s Best of Santa Fe.

Lovin’ Life at Loretto

The infuser is the secret weapon for the Living Room’s smoky offering.

The infuser is the secret weapon for the Living Room’s smoky offering.

What happens when you invite a Smokin’ Nun to the bar top? A good story, of course. Sister George, a nun of the Loretto order (for whom the hotel is named), liked to enjoy her evening cocktail with a cigar. In honor of this sippin’ sister, the Inn of Loretto (a Travel + Leisure World’s Best), mixes Knob Creek rye, muddled orange, brandied cherries, Grand Marnier and orange bitters with a smoker light infusing this robust cocktail. Nothing like relaxing in the living room with a cool drink and a couple of sisters!

A Recipe for Lingering at La Posada

 

Nason’s Fancy is guaranteed to draw admiring glances at La Posada.

Nason’s Fancy is guaranteed to draw admiring glances at La Posada.

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa has Julia Staab as resident ghost but personally I’m more interested in discovering how The Staab House lounge fantasizes about the margarita. La Po’s recipe gets creative with a potent mix of hot and cool and the result is worth savoring slowly. Nason’s Fancy goes down nice and easy: Patron Silver with charred chile agave, orange bitters and fresh lime juice in a glass rimmed with smoked sea salt. More than one and I probably would see ghosts!

Anasazi’s Rock (Salt) Art

Zozobra looked approvingly over Loralee’s shoulder when she put Defiance in a glass!

Zozobra looked approvingly over Loralee’s shoulder when she put Defiance in a glass!

When the bar manager at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi issued a challenge to his staff to get creative, this is what he got: Defiance. No, not the stuff of staff revolts but Defiance, an elegant cocktail designed by one of my favorite mixologists, Loralee. Her response was a rye-based reward served in a martini glass (martini or not, that glass always makes me feel so elegant!). The Taos Lightning single-barrel rye whiskey (I’m all in for the liquor being local and so are the experts), Salerno blood orange liqueur, a dash of BBQ bitters and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice made a very pretty — and very tasty — potion!

Spirits Lift at Santa Fe Spirits

The long and the short of it? Head for Santa Fe Spirits!

The long and the short of it? Head for Santa Fe Spirits!

Hand-crafted spirits are all the rage and thanks to Santa Fe Spirits, I find them right here at home since this craft distiller’s downtown tasting room features five unique local products. Two different malt whiskies, apple brandy and vodka all have pride of place but my recent summer sipping has been gin-focused. Despite her name, my BFF Candy doesn’t like it sweet so she opted for their classic Wheeler’s gin and tonic. My imagination was captured by the Fresa Fresca, a blend of gin with muddled strawberries and basil, a dab of honey simple syrup and lemon and lime juice. Simply divine.

Sipping Signature Santa Fe

After a day spent discovering the magic of our city, I suggest you and your besties relax into evening with an hour or two of laughter and libations. You’ll be delighted to find that Santa Fe’s inventive mixologists have made sure the magnificent reds, oranges and yellows of our sunsets can also be captured in a cup.

 

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Santa Fe Is the Fabled City of Gold

With the sun shining daily in a bright blue sky and dramatic sunsets nightly, Santa Fe summers are simply the best. But as end-of-season beauties like tall, yellow native sunflowers bloom and wave in the breeze, it’s obvious that summer is about to give way to fall. And that’s fine with me, because it means the hillsides and valleys are about to turn daytime into glorious shades of autumn that rival our evening colors.

Santa Fe’s fall colors are above and beyond beautiful.

Santa Fe’s fall colors are above and beyond beautiful.

Santa Fe’s Fall Foliage is a Fantasia of Color

Santa Fe leaf-peepers are about to be rewarded. Our colors are as distinctive as they come, with native trees turning shades of crimson and aspen-covered mountaintops drawing the gaze upwards to a host of golden hues. With some pre-hike research, it’s easy to find trails that fit your eyeballs and level of expertise. The Santa Fe National Forest’s aptly named Aspen Vista offers a moderately challenging four-mile trek up a well-marked road to an 11,000-foot summit with awesome 360-degree views. You can do it on your own, but going on a guided hike with Outspire or Santa Fe Walkabouts adds a plethora of fascinating botanical, geologic and historic notes to the adventure. Either way, wear good footwear, bring water, and most important, have your camera fully charged because the unforgettable scenic panorama means many stops along the way.

Just point and shoot: The autumn views are all around you in Santa Fe.

Just point and shoot: The autumn views are all around you in Santa Fe.

 Skedaddle Up to the Santa Fe Ski Basin for Scenic Excellence

Discovering all the scenery an autumnal heart could desire is a breeze with an eye-popping trip by car up to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Rounding each curve brings yet another breath-taking vista, and the views just keep coming. The Ski Basin is hosting some fun fall family activities too. On two successive Saturdays, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, the Ski Shop rolls out a blowout sale on last year’s goodies with a beanbag toss and a kids’ treasure hunt to spice up the action. The Beer Garden will be open and there’s live music to accompany the brew and the beautiful vistas.

No wonder the conquistadors thought they found El Dorado, the City of Gold.

No wonder the conquistadors thought they found El Dorado, the City of Gold.

 

And once you get up to the top of the mountain, opt for a bird’s eye view by climbing aboard the Ski Santa Fe Super Quad Lift. This inspiring ride on weekends Aug. 30 through Oct. 1 grants you the advantage of seeing the whole panorama from a completely new and utterly fantastic perspective.

 

Picture Memories of Santa Fe at the Canyon Road Paint Out

Peek over an artist’s shoulder during Canyon Road Paint Out and you might fall in love with a painting.

Peek over an artist’s shoulder during Canyon Road Paint Out and you might fall in love with a painting.

May I suggest a great tradition for catching the fall fantasia of Santa Fe? Attend the October Canyon Road Paint-Out! With more than 150 artists lining this historic street on Oct. 17-18, it’s a snap to score a work of art that will remind you of the warmth of Santa Fe when the depths of winter hit. Creating artwork en plein air (working outdoors onsite) gives an immediacy and freshness that perfectly captures the creative essence of the City Different. You’ll find artists working in media of every sort up and down Canyon Road, along with how-to demonstrations, gallery openings, musical performances and refreshments along the way. And there’s even a festival parade from the Santa Fe Public Schools Music Education program on Saturday afternoon.

Color Your Season with Only-in-Santa-Fe Adventures

Fall is such a great time of year to travel … but somehow I never manage to leave. Santa Fe has so much to offer in don’t-miss moments that staying right here for the awesome autumn action is a choice I make again and again. But nothing should stop you from packing a bag for a getaway to discover why – once you’re here, Santa Fe’s golden magic will surely work its spell on you.

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Santa Fe: We Like It Hot!

Food is full of trinities: Hot dogs, beers and ballparks. PB&J. Wine, cheese and crackers.  But here in Santa Fe we like to think we’ve got the best three-flavor combo of them all: Green chile, plus cheese, plus burger equals pure deliciousness. We’re the Green Chile Cheeseburger Capital of the World and we’ve got the Smackdown to prove it. More than 10,000 green chile fanatics voted in the top six contenders to compete for supremacy in the juried Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown on Sept. 12. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you your finalists!

Look closely: Chef Marc Quiñones adds a little jalapeño challenge on the plate with his green chile cheeseburger.

Look closely: Chef Marc Quiñones adds a little jalapeño challenge on the plate with his green chile cheeseburger.

Luminaria Lights Up Your Palate

Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto has a secret weapon in the balsamic grilled onions that Chef Marc Quiñones slathers on his picture-perfect entrant. Cheddar cheese is a classic topper that always scores with voters, and the fresh-roasted New Mexico green chile ensures a delicious heat index. The home-made potato chips were a big hit; in our group, serious sleight of hand was required to get a taste before they were gone. With Bibb lettuce and heirloom tomatoes stacked on the juicy grass-fed patty, it’s no surprise that this beefy baby ended up in the final go-round.

 

 

The burger is a thing of beauty at Terra, and so are those crunchy onion rings.

The burger is a thing of beauty at Terra, and so are those crunchy onion rings.

 

The Taste is Terra-ific

A short drive north into the scenic countryside should be part of any Santa Fe experience and the reward for the trip—besides the breathtaking scenery—is the Terra burger at the Four Seasons Resort and Spa (a breathtaking sight itself). Using Northern New Mexico-grown chile, Chef Andrew Cooper demonstrates his ardent farm-to-table support of the Farmers’ Market Institute (the beneficiary of Smackdown ticket sales). Cooper’s innovative style enhances the bread factor, with tidbits of green chile and pepper jack cheese dotting the tender brioche bun. While it is about the burger, that perfect bun ups the yum-factor to superb. Extra kudos to the chef for a spicy bed of chipotle BBQ sauce under the juicy, cooked-just-right local beef. And did I mention the red chile onion rings?

Every good cowgirl needs a good mother, I mean, burger.

Every good cowgirl needs a good mother, I mean, burger.

How I Ate Your Mother(burger)

Chef Patrick Lambert of the Cowgirl BBQ knows how to please Mom, but she needs a hearty appetite to get through his Mother Burger. Cowgirl was the proud recipient of the 2013 Smackdown People’s Choice Award, and no wonder – this mother of a meal boasts a mix of ground buffalo and beef topped with bacon and melted brie. A healthy helping of green chile is layered on top and the chile-cheddar bun adds extra kick to the whole megillah. Every mouthful offers a different hit — one minute beef, one minute brie — and each bite was killer-delicious. Think I ignored the truffle fries and huge selection of on-tap beers? Wrong!

Cheers for the choice of chimichurri on the Anasazi Burger.

Cheers for the choice of chimichurri on the Anasazi Burger.

 

There’s Nothing Ancient History About This Burger

“Wagyu gonna say” about 100% Wagyu beef? I say “bring it on” and Chef Juan Bochenski of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi does just that. Cooked a la parilla (on a grate), the result is an enviable crust encasing a perfect center. Green chile mixed with chimichurri sauce (piquant chopped garlic, cilantro and parsley) reflects the chef’s Argentinian background and melds beautifully with the slice of avocado on top. Another entrant upping the ante with a fresh-baked brioche bun, this burger features provolone cheese as a creamy palate cooler. The house-made BBQ chips disappear in a flash!

Oh My Amaya!

Oh My Amaya!

It’s Never Too Late to Get In to Win

In Sunday School you may have heard the last shall be first. It could sure happen for Amaya at the Hotel Santa Fe, the Hacienda and Spa, a last-minute entry that shot up in a hurry. The all-natural, half-pound (be hungry, be very hungry) bison burger created by Chef Walter Dominguez boosts the flavor meter to high with a hefty dose of fire-roasted green chile and extra-sharp cheddar cheese. The tempura onion rings are a more-than-worthy accompaniment. And I love the beautiful covered patio and adjacent grassy lawn on which lucky folks like me can see a Pueblo dance.

Even Zozobra (read more about him here) wanted a glimpse of the alien!

Even Zozobra (read more about him here) wanted a glimpse of the alien!

 

Area 51 Comes to Santa Fe

The alien has landed at the Second Street Brewery at the Railyard. Chef Shawn Perry had a close encounter of the third kind when this idea landed in his mind: an all-beef patty topped with a crispy blue-corn-dusted chile relleno. Add richly-flavored stout queso, fried red onions and bacon, and it becomes even more other-worldly. And there’s nothing like a swash of guacamole to balance the heat of chipotle mayo and chopped green chile. Chef had best be careful not to get beamed up to serve the aliens on their home planet!

Don’t Miss the Lip-Smacking Smackdown Coming Up

By now, I expect you’re ready to buy tickets. Doing it soon is my advice, because this is one event that will definitely sell out. And guess what? You’ll be enjoying a bonus addition: The six finalists will be joined by a Lucky No. 7 chosen by local radio host Carlos Duran, turning this burger-iffic night out (with beer included) into seventh heaven!

 

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