New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe is Yours to Create

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” Absolutely not, Mr. Burns, that can’t happen in a town that’s more than 400 years old – too many auld acquaintances to play with! Every one of my auldies but goodies has a favorite spot for ringing in the New Year, so I’ve made a list and checked it twice to see where we’ll have fun being naughty and nice!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
Any day can end with ahhh at the Agave Lounge.

Firm believers in top-drawer food with party beverages head to the Agave Lounge at the Eldorado Hotel to pair green chile Kobe sliders with their margaritas or martinis. The handsome fireplace casts cozy warmth throughout the room at this locals’ favorite, where a Happy Hour meet-and-greet easily flows into the wee hours. And if you’re planning on going the distance, the Eldorado’s New Year’s Eve Package has everything you need to welcome 2015 in true Santa Fe style.

Given that Santa Fe has a Palace of the Governors, it’s no surprise that there’s a party palace too, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Once the bailiwick of the notorious Doña Tules (yes, there’s a story), the Palace has Happy Hour covered, but things really get going once the music starts. The calendar is always fully-loaded, and New Year’s Eve promises a speakeasy with The Shiners Club Jazz Band to swing 2015 into gear.

“Buon Anno” will roll off the tongue when you lubricate your vocal cords with an Italian twist and a glass of Prosecco for a toast at Il Piatto. Not one, but two happy hours on tap here, molto bene! The early one has half-off appetizers and choice wines by the glass. And late diners score at the 9:30 version with those half-off apps, selected wines and a three-course Prix Fixe dinner!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
New Year’s Eve in Santa Fe can be colorful when you toast 2015 at Del Charro.

If you’re feeling casual, the Del Charro Saloon can’t be beat; inexpensive chow and a friendly howdy are guaranteed. Margaritas come with their own shakers, so you can say good-bye to the old year as you pour a good-bye to your last drop. No need to get gussied up – just sit back and relax, nibble an order of Nachos Royale, and watch the ball drop on the screen over the bar.

Casual comfort has a storied past at the Pink Adobe’s Dragon Room, a haunt that locals have been coming to forever (well at least for the last 70 years). Smack-dab in the center of the historic Barrio de Analco, the Dragon Room possesses all the rustic and authentic charm Santa Fe is known for. Tuck yourself into an corner with a margarita close at hand and you might well find yourself making friends with a local sharing tales of bygone days when Rosalea Murphy, the Pink’s legendary founder, reigned nightly for the artists and writers who courted her favor.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
You can light up the night in Santa Fe at Skylight. (Photo Credit: The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Party people skedaddle to Skylight, a hot hit from the moment it opened in summer 2014. Food, yes; drinks, yes; music – sí, sí,sí! Santa Feans like to get their party on and this is the place. Laugh in the New Year with a performance by the Bonkerz comedy team (6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) then keep the amusement alive at the late-night dance party (10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) You can even beat the New Year’s rush and meet at Skylight on December 30 for Tuesday 50-cent wings and $2 Tecates!

There’s a new kid on the nightlife block and the Blue Rooster is sure to keep it rocking well into morning on New Year’s Eve. In the former home of the Rouge Cat (and sticking with the colorful naming), the Rooster has Santa Fe’s gay scene firmly in its sights, but there’s no pecking order on who’s invited to play. Diversity rules this hen house and all are welcome to party their way into 2015. And if your New Year’s Eve dance card is full, come back on Saturday night to hear Santa Fe’s resident disco diva, DJ Oona, pull out all the stops.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
New Year’s Eve is sure to be hot when you let The Den mix the drinks! (Photo Credit: The Den)

Head for The Den, located underneath the Coyote Café, and you’ll feel right at home. This intimate hideaway is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails then comes to life for late-night endings with music spun by knock-out Santa Fe DJs. The signature cocktails are truly inventive and some lucky wordsmith had a great time coming up with awesome appellations for the Den’s apertifs and after-dinner specialties – cheers to them!

Every town has that one local bar that you absolutely must see to say you’ve been there. In Santa Fe, that’s Evangelo’s! There’s an upstairs and an Underground and you want to visit both. The face of bar-founder Evangelo Klonis became familiar world-wide thanks to a famed World War II picture by W. Eugene Smith, and the family atmosphere is palpable. Regulars will regale you with stories (both believable and far-fetched) of musicians they’ve heard here, including bands tailor-made for the movies (witness Jeff Bridges strumming in Crazy Heart).

For ending the night in true dive fashion, I suggest the intriguing set of stairs on the corner of Don Gaspar and West San Francisco Street leading down to The Matador. This hole-in-the-wall with rockabilly flair is the perfect place for a rendezvous with your best buddies. It’s dark, it’s funky, but it’s all Santa Fe – and all of Santa Fe has made a pilgrimage to close a night, a week or the year with a nightcap at the Matador. Close your night by linking arms for a stroll under the twinkling lights of Santa Fe Plaza.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Holiday Celebrations, Mixology
No matter where December 31 takes you, Santa Fe’s great mixologists will help you shake off 2014 and welcome the New Year!

Ten, nine, eight, seven,….well, you know how it goes. Gather the gang to say good-bye to 2014 City Different style and use my skinny on these ten spots to light up your getaway before the year is gone. Santa Fe has 400-plus years of experience at getting the year off to a festive start – say Prospero Año Nuevo the Santa Fe way and your 2015 is guaranteed to be a truly Happy New Year!



Giving Santa Fe: No Wrapping Paper or Bows Required

Surrounded by the radiance of light-strung cacti and piñon trees at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow, I couldn’t help but get that warm, fuzzy feeling of true holiday cheer.  It reminded me once again that what we remember most about the holidays isn’t what we get or even what we give, but mostly what we do, the experiences we create.  In Santa Fe, there’s a sleigh full of one-of-kind memories just waiting to be made.  So what are you waiting for? Be here now!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Caroling, Christmas, Holiday, Shopping
Holiday carols and colorful lights set the mood at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden Glow (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Botanical Garden)

Cooking Up Holiday Surprises

When I send out gift certificates from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, I know that my recipients and I will both enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of the encounter. I’m living proof that your average Santa Fean’s cooking skills go from satisfactory to sublime with a Chile Workshop. Your visitors will reap the same results!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cooking, School, CHristmas, Holidays,
Smiles come with the spatulas at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. (Photo Credit; Santa Fe School of Cooking)

And the Cooking School has more than just hands-on and demonstration cooking classes. Gifting someone with the School’s Shop Walk might mean you receive something unique in return. Signature sea salts or Spanish olive oil sound pretty tasty!  There’s even a three-day Southwest Culinary BootCamp for intrepid home chefs ready to delve deeply into our regional cuisine working side-by-side with some of Santa Fe’s best chefs.

Any conversation about Santa Fe’s best chefs has to include Rocky Durham. After Durham honed his skills in Europe and hosted his own cooking show, this talented maestro came home (as do native Santa Feans who miss the signature foods they cut their teeth on) to create some local culinary buzz. And he’s cooked it up right at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy! The academy’s mission to provide a classic and holistic education for future food industry professionals includes delicious community classes that cater to foodies hungry for authentic experiences.  And the series of Pop-Up Dinners that appear on the calendar are pure palate pleasure.

Christmas, Cooking, Santa Fe , New Mexico
Chef Rocky Durham is hands-on in the kitchen at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy. (Photo Credit: Eddie Moore for the Albuquerque Journal)

The Pros Provide the Guide to Santa Fe’s Dining Delights

Seeing the town on foot can be foodie heaven, too, and Santa Fe has double the fun on offer. Both the Santa Fe School of Cooking Restaurant Walking Tours and Food Tour New Mexico provide the perfect way to discover Santa Fe’s restaurant scene. Strolling to Santa Fe’s best restaurants, meeting the chefs, and sampling the flavors is entertainment and dinner in one fell swoop. You could even set up a friendly family rivalry by sending one team to each tour to report back on restaurant revelations!


Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cooking, Food, Green Chile
Who wouldn’t love to experience Santa Fe with Food Tour New Mexico as a guide? (Photo Credit: Food Tour New Mexico)

Clever Christmas Presents Include Creativity

Rest assured that there’s more than dough and spices to get anyone’s hands into. How about an afternoon at Santa Fe Clay? Located in the happening Santa Fe Railyard, this professional pottery studio is home to 20 resident artists and ideas burn as hot as the kiln in the 10,000-square-foot space. The gallery is full with treasures and family-friendly classes and weekend workshops let everyone spend fun-filled hours turning a ball of clay into an artistic masterpiece. And the most fervent craftsman in your family would be thrilled to attend a  2015 summer workshop – Santa Fe’s summer art season is inspiration that never quits.


Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hands-on at Santa Fe Clay is a colorful way to spend a day. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Sage Inn)


Creativity runs rampant in the City Different and Santa Fe Creative Tourism’s year-round classes come in every do-it-yourself medium imaginable! Budding photo buffs can graduate from selfies to stunning landscape shots and the camera faithful can up the ante with digital film-making classes. Put pencil to paper or brush to canvas for capturing the beauty of Santa Fe’s inspiring scenery. Traditional arts like yarn-spinning and tinsmithing teach the history of New Mexico along with technique. And those who just can’t hold the excitement inside can shake it with belly-dancing or capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) classes.


Santa Fe, New Mexico, art, Shopping, Craft
A monotype class with Sasha Wasko is a one-of-a-kind one-print experience courtesy of Santa Fe Creative Tourism. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Creative Tourism)


Christmas + Santa Fe = An Experience Memories are Made Of

Have I lit a fire in your mind? You don’t have to let the gift-giving frenzy get you into a tizzy! As you plan a Santa Fe Plus getaway for that special person on your holiday gift list, make sure you include yourself in the experience – when you combine “be here now” with “do it in Santa Fe,” you’ll want to be along for the fun.


Santa Fe is a Star in Tamalewood

As visions of sugarplums dance in some heads, a City Different scene appears in my mind. I dream instead of the deliciously scented cloud that drifts up as I lift the lid off a pan of freshly-steamed tamales. No Santa Fe Christmas scene would be complete without a pile of pillowy treats on the table, and all over town families are setting the stage for their tamalero (tamale-making party).

Santa Fe, New Mexico,
There’s a cast of thousands when it’s tamale time in Santa Fe.

The tamale is an ancient dish and the multi-step preparation works best when family and friends put many hands and much laughter to work. An assembly line forms to mix up soft masa harina (finely-milled ground cornmeal) dough for encasing familiar fillings or star actors cast by the abuela (grandmother) who shares her secrets judiciously (personally, I’m grateful to the auteur of the Tamale Dressing for Turkey in the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s cookbook). Mama spreads the masa on a pre-soaked cornhusk before passing it to a skillful tia (auntie) who fills and dexterously folds before tying it with a thin strip of cornhusk. The post-production staff packs up a portion of the treasure for the freezer then steams a batch for the hungry horde hovering nearby.

This year, my family crew is spread east and west for the holidays, so rather than a solo production, I’m letting the professionals fulfill my Tamalewood dreams. Care to come along for the ride?

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Let every Posa’s flavor audition for a part in the dining scene!

Posa’s is a Featured Player at the Holidays

Peruse the prepared food section in Santa Fe grocery stores and you’re sure to spot a six-pack of Posa’s tamales. It’s a lifesaver for the time-challenged, as all it takes is a few minutes in boiling water to get these beauties on the table. But if time allows, a visit to Posa’s southside Café is a must-do. With options like red chile pork, green chile with cheese or chicken and a green chile vegan version featuring zucchini, black beans and corn, everyone is sure to be accommodated.


Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fat and fabulous – El Parasol writes a great script for tamale temptation.


El Parasol is a Location Scout’s Dream

When it’s a grab-n-go day, there’s no better pick-me-up than the hefty take-out tamales that come from El Parasol’s cocinita (little kitchen). Larger than average, these tender treats are stuffed edge to edge with potent flavor. Order red pork and the generous portion of fiery shredded meat tints the tender masa with a scarlet glow. Spicy flavors linger on the tongue long after the tamale is gone. Green chile is no slouch either – whether you order the green chicken version or the green with cheese, you know you’re in New Mexico now, Dorothy!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico
A rich veggie filling has top billing in La Casa Sena’s tamale production!


Tamale-Time for a Close-up, Mr. de Mille

In the hands of an expert like Chef Patrick Gharrity, tamales dressed for an elegant appearance and a white-tablecloth dinner at La Casa Sena are cult classics. His mixed mushroom tamale is tucked into poblano-scented masa laced with fried sage butter, topped with shallot rings and served on a bed of avocado-tomatillo sauce. Perfection for fervent fungi fans! Pair it with an autumnal beverage like Crispin hard cider and a side of calabacitas (sautéed summer squash) and you’re in food heaven. My, oh my, is this tamale superstar ever ready for the red carpet!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Having fun is part of the setting when the Santa Fe School of Cooking is in the director’s chair! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)


Be the Star in Your Own Tamalewood Production

Once you take a tamale tour through Santa Fe, I guarantee you’ll want to know how to direct your crew to make these signature flavors at home. If you can’t borrow a friend’s abuela for training purposes, let the expert chefs at the Santa Fe School of Cooking do the honors. Its ever-popular (read: sell-out) tamale-making classes provide hands-on instruction through the assembly process and run the gamut from the red chile pork standard to a south-of-the-border chicken tamale wrapped in a banana leaf. All classes end with a feasting on the fruits of the labor and the school’s brand-new 25th anniversary cookbook has an invaluable storyboard for home tamaleros!

Tamales, Santa Fe, New Mexico
A Santa Fe holiday is a sweet affair when Señor Murphy writes the final scene with caramelos, their scene-stealing piñon-candy tamales.


Make Tamales Your Classic Santa Fe Holiday Storyline

The holidays are a delicious time of year for Santa Fe locals and visitors. The town sparkles with excitement and our signature regional foods play their roles with gusto. Just be sure to make your holiday getaway Christmas-style – let red and green chile play starring roles and a standing ovation is guaranteed

Gift-Givers’ Guide to Santa Fe Style

Can you feel the holidays humming in the air? Snow has graced the mountaintops, seasonal foods are simmering, and celebrations are in store. Don’t let the thought of holiday shopping scare you because Santa Fe is a gift-giver’s paradise! I hope your list is made and you’ve checked it twice. This is the perfect time and place to score future smiles from one-of-a-kind holiday surprises.

Santa Fe, Shopping, Antiques, Jewelry
Things Finer’s name says it all – Santa Fe is full of fine things that amaze and delight!

Festive Finery Makes Gorgeous Gifts

Tucked inside La Fonda, the venerable hotel beloved by locals and visitors alike, Things Finer turns someone else’s unique treasure into a treasured gift. Glittering jewels mesmerize and antique curiosities beckon you to take a closer look. This is a place where you truly never know what you’ll find – that’s what makes it an exciting adventure.





skull, art, santa fe, new mexico, shopping, gift, holiday, heart, day of the dead, sugar skull
You’ll be sure to meet colorful characters in the Museum of New Mexico gift shops.

Discover Priceless Treasures by Museum Shopping

If you dig unique discoveries, the Museum of New Mexico’s shops need to be on your list. From folk art to handcrafted jewelry to books galore, the staff has searched far and wide to come up with a collection of distinctive global and local items that reflect each museum’s individual mission. Every historic exhibition yields special artistic gems, and they’ve made it easy to shop online for gifts that spread holiday cheer back to the hands that made them.

And don’t forget to go where the artists are. With  250 galleries in Santa Fe, you can’t miss! It’s always exciting to catch an artist on the cusp of a brilliant career, and The Shop at CCA is ideal for scoping out local talent on its way up. The goods on display have the same quirky sensibility as the Cinematheque schedule, with tons of originality.


To Market, To Market, To Find a Fine Treat

When you wander over to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, make a beeline for Bon Marché, across from the Railyard Water Tower. Even on wintry days, the colorful collection instantly whisks you to sunny destinations.


shoes, gifts, santa fe, new mexico, shopping, colorful
Stroll in to Bon Marché – whose name means “good deal” in French – and you’ll walk out with happy feet and a happy wallet.

Multi-hued Catalan fabrics are woven on turn-of-the-century machinery then shipped to New Mexico where local artisans turn them into must-have beauties. Bright espadrilles evoke summer’s return, and beach bags add flair for lucky friends taking a winter cruise. And if you leave without those cheery napkins you loved, no problem – you’ll find them online.



Think of Fido’s mournful face if there’s no treat under the tree – you know you need something fun for four-legged BFFs. Pooch Pantry has the best for barkers, and you can even place orders for fresh-baked goodies. Doesn’t Coco deserve to eat her Christmas meal out of festive dinnerware? And if your hound stepped in a puddle on your holiday shopping trip, take heed of the self-service dogwash!

Simply Log In for Hands-free Shopping

For sweet stocking stuffers, I believe a spot of chocolate is required. The wise choice from afar? A jaunt to The Chocolatesmith! Nothing says Santa Fe like a rich dark chocolate pâté infused with chile. The only challenge with signature Santa Fe treats is not to eat them before they get tucked into that holiday stocking! Not to worry, munch away because these delicious delights are available online.

If you opt for gourmet chile chocolate pâté, you’ve got to do it Christmas-style, red and green! (Photo Credit: The Chocolatesmith)
If you opt for gourmet chile chocolate pâté, you’ve got to do it Christmas-style, red and green! (Photo Credit: The Chocolatesmith)

Online is the ticket for making a memorable Santa Fe statement with a gorgeous O’Keeffe poster from Posters of Santa Fe. The brick-and-mortar shop is no more, but theirs is a huge art archive of reproductions on paper. Once you’ve trolled through the online collections to make your choice, it’s a snap to have a poster shipped in time to tuck under the tree.

Light Up Your Holiday the Santa Fe Way

All this shopping and no schlepping required! Just visit PakMail or UPS and your hands are free to snap selfies at the November 28 Christmas tree lighting on the Santa Fe Plaza. If the holiday lights remind you of your own tree, head for The Shop: A Christmas Store or Susan’s Christmas Shop for ornaments with authentic New Mexico flavor. And remember the November 29-30 SWAIA Winter Indian Market for handmade Native American treasures you won’t find anywhere but Santa Fe.

A Santa Fe getaway definitely gives you the luxury of shopping in person, but you can be sure those distinctive presents you chose online will arrive for placement under the tree in plenty of time. Either way, shopping Santa Fe means yours will be the gifts that family and friends cherish for years.

holiday, plaza, santa fe, new mexico, lights, christmas, new year, festive, people, gathering, winter
Don’t wait – start your holidays now in Santa Fe!

Santa Fe: Families Rekindled

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Family Reunion
Any time of year becomes a holiday when families are together. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

No doubt about it, Santa Fe is a family town. How could it be otherwise in a place that’s well over 400 years old? City Different Facebook friends are constantly pointing out connections to great-greats going back centuries. And every local restaurant worth its salt has a private room where alumni assemble and 100th birthday parties hold court. Even the Santa Fe School of Cooking is ready, willing and able to put together a festive private party! I always cheer when far-flung relatives and assorted in-laws arrive to celebrate our bond – with a little advance planning, you can do the same.

Winter Over Under Santa Fe’s Blue Skies

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Art Gallery
Winter frost refreshes the view at Shidoni.

I love the fact that Santa Fe has four distinct seasons. Every time of year offers perfect opportunities for a family gathering. With winter on its way, we’re waxing skis and snowboards for the moment when Jack Frost’s powder starts falling at Ski Santa Fe, where snow sports regularly include a cloudless blue sky. Winter Glow nights at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden light up the landscape and a stroll around the Shidoni Sculpture Garden is magical when snow decorates the fanciful creations. If your semester break encompasses January, brew up a visit for the legal-age crew at the New Mexico Brewer’s Guild WinterBrewFest on January 23.

Spring into Action with Spring Break Santa Fe           

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Folk Art Museum
The whole family will turn into fans at Santa Fe’s fascinating Museum of International Folk Art. (Photo Credit: Museum of International Folk Art)

All school districts have individual spring break times, and it’s a blessing that Santa Fe offers so much for visitors with kids in tow. A visit to the Museum of International Folk Art is an experience for the young and the young-at-heart. Be sure to take the little ones to see the awesome collection of bugs and natural oddities at the Harrell House.

You’ll fall under the Old West’s spell as you lope along the trail with Broken Saddle Riding Company. All mounts are smooth-gaited – even inexperienced cowpokes can enjoy a serene ride through the sagebrush. While family foodies taste their way around town with Food Tour New Mexico, sporty siblings can corral 18 holes at Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe. A wildflower hiking trip is a spring awakening and even the least mobile family member can enjoy a sunset tour in Santa Fe Walkabouts’ Pinzgauer 4×4. Extra-lucky visitors can follow up the May 8-10 Passport to the Arts with five full days of Bike and Brew adventure from May 13-17.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Outdoors
Saddle up those sisters and brothers…time to ride into the west with Broken Saddle Riding. (Photo Credit: Broken Saddle Riding Co.)

Santa Fe Has A Bed for Every Head

My cozy adobe welcomes a sibling or two from time to time, but having so many great hotels is a definite plus when the whole family comes to call. Fortunately, Santa Fe has no equal in accommodations and charm. The only problem is choosing!

Wonderful winter memories from the Christmas Eve farolito walk are easy to be had with a stay at a downtown Santa Fe hotel. La Fonda on the Plaza has authenticity built into its very bones; a recent property-wide renovation has this Grand Dame looking spectacular.  For close-to-Canyon-Road action, look no further than the sparkling new Drury Plaza Hotel whose complimentary ample breakfast and afternoon reception are sure to please everyone.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe will feel like home with a stay at La Fonda on the Plaza. (Photo Credit: Robert Reck; Courtesy of La Fonda on the Plaza)

For warm weather reunions, consider the Inn and Spa at Loretto or La Posada de Santa Fe – both let grown-ups sip a cool margarita while kids cool off in the pool. And the Bishop’s Lodge Resort adds tennis courts and horseback riding to their list of amenities, along with their splendid pool.

Pack It All In with a Package

Santa Fe hotels put a lot of creative effort into crafting great deals for their guests. The Inn on the Alameda’s Girls’ Getaway is as sweet for college alums as it is for cousins. Hotel Santa Fe’s Ski Package (through April) has spring break skiing covered. Santa Fe Restaurant Week offers tasty savings from February 22-March 1 and Wine Down Wednesdays at Four Seasons’ Terra feature half-price bottles – and the fabulous views are free!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sunsets
Nothing says Santa Fe like the 360-degree sunsets that Four Seasons’ Terra delivers.

Reunite the Relatives in Santa Fe

As the holidays approach, thoughts naturally turn to family, so why not put something special under the tree? I’ve shared a few ideas, but you can let the Santa Fe professionals put together something just for you. Either way, an invitation to celebrate kinship in Santa Fe is a gift that everyone will cherish and remember for years to come.

In Santa Fe, There Are So Many Reasons to be Thankful

Every year, we have a designated opportunity to give thanks for life’s many benefits. But for us Santa Feans, reasons to be thankful jump out daily – from the awe-inspiring mix of scarlet and gold in a sunset that stops us in our tracks to the comforting warmth of a fresh tortilla on a crisp autumn morning. I could go on and on, but instead I’ll just list five reasons why you should make yours a City Different Thanksgiving. You can thank me later.

winter, ski, sports, santa fe, mountains
Your heart will soar as you ride the lift to the top of the mountain at Ski Santa Fe.
(Photo Credit: Don Gaspar Inn)

I’m thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Weather.

An average of 320 days of sunshine a year ensures delightful times as you hike up or glide down a snowy hillside with brilliant blue skies. And all without the bone-chilling humidity. The mountains encircling Santa Fe are gorgeous any time of year, but fresh powder for a Thanksgiving opening? It’s entirely possible and Ski Santa Fe has set its sights on a November 27 opening – fingers crossed!

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cuisine, Tamales, Classes
Chef Noe Cano demonstrating the holiday art of homemade tamales. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe School of Cooking)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Chile

Whenever I mull the idea of living elsewhere, the thought of a chile-less life stops me cold. I cannot imagine autumn without the scent of roasting chiles, let alone giving up my breakfast burritos to go on a snowy morning. As for Thanksgiving, turkey is the centerpiece but the distinctive flavors of our regional New Mexico cuisine find their way onto holiday dining tables all over town. Speaking of which, classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking have been tuning up my family recipes for years, and a Native Harvest Feast class (November 6) taught by Native American Chef Lois Ellen Frank offers wonderful alternatives for your holiday table. I cherish this family-run temple of taste, marking their 25th anniversary with a new cookbook out in December.

Native American, Pueblo, Tesuque, dance
An undated Tesuque Pueblo Turtle Dance captured by renowned New Mexico photographer Laura Gilpin. (Photo Credit: Laura Gilpin; in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s. . . Cultural Combinations

Santa Fe was diverse long before diversity became a buzzword. Frontier life meant neighbors of every persuasion pitched in to create a community. You’re as likely to meet a Valdez with blue eyes and blond hair as one with thick black braids trailing down his back. Having a thriving Native culture adds unique character to the Land of Enchantment, and I honor that gift annually by attending Pueblo feasts. Tesuque Pueblo is less than ten miles from Santa Fe, and its San Diego Feast on November 11 is a memorable event celebrated with beautifully costumed dancers and a drum group on the pueblo’s central Plaza.

Santa Fe, Holidays, Lensic, Performing Arts
Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous lights up the Lensic stage annually. (Photo Credit: Wise Fool New Mexico)

I’m Thankful for Santa Fe’s . . . Vibrant Arts Scene.

Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky to live where the artful spirit is so alive. From lovingly handcrafted mission altarpieces to cutting-edge art exhibitions; from solo Native flute to a full orchestra; from age-old legends told around a campfire to pop-culture poetry readings; Santa Fe has it all. Every season is graced with inspiration, and Thanksgiving is no exception. SWAIA’s Santa Fe Winter Indian Market (Nov. 28-29) showcases the rich artistic culture of the First Peoples. A Saturday afternoon bronze pouring at Shidoni Gallery demonstrates the traditional execution of sculptural expression. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus’ annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah fills the Lensic on Sunday, November 23 and four rousing performances of Wise Fool’s Circus Luminous are on the Lensic’s roster November 28 to 30.

I’m Thankful for…Santa Fe’s Festive Spirit

Santa Fe is a town that loves to celebrate old traditions and create new ones. From January’s Souper Bowl to May’s Passport to the Arts; from July’s International Folk Art Market to November’s PieMania, Santa Fe knows how to throw a great party! And Thanksgiving ushers in an unusually rich series of pleasures. After the turkey is reduced to leftovers, we’ll head down to the Plaza on Friday, November 28 to watch as the big Christmas tree lights up to celebrate the start of the holiday season. With so much December fun in the wings – Christmas at the Palace and Las Posadas, the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk and Christmas Day dances at the Pueblos – not a moment goes by that I’m not grateful to be living here.

Wine, Fireplace, Santa Fe
Toast the love of friends and family by spending Thanksgiving together in Santa Fe

You’ll Be Thankful You Came to Santa Fe

It‘s easy for me to ramble on about the wonders of Santa Fe  because the magic is real in the Land of Enchantment. And best of all? The welcoming spirit of the people, who share the same questing spirit and love of life that brings you here! Why not celebrate your Thanksgiving with a stay in Santa Fe where gracias is lived all year-round?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!


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.


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

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.

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.