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!

 

Fall…in Love with Santa Fe

I love the way one season slips seamlessly into another here in Santa Fe. The added crisp in the air makes the blues of the sky more brilliant, the sunsets deeper shades of red and purple, and the aspen-covered mountaintops rich shades of gold. And if magnificent landscapes haven’t convinced you to hop a plane/car/boat/train/space shuttle/horse, September is chock-full of activities and events for every interest and palate. Here’s a quick peek:

Flex into Fall at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival

Santa Fe’s clean air, abundant outdoor recreation and farm-fresh food all over town attracts a healthy coterie of yoga-loving souls. With studios tucked all over the City Different, like-minded individuals can find a yoga class any day of the week. It all comes together at the first-ever Santa Fe Yoga Festival on Labor Day weekend Aug. 28-31. Taking place in the serene setting of Bishop’s Lodge Resort and Spa (rooms still available), the festival opens with a drum ceremony and blessing, followed with music by Native Spirits to accompany the setting sun. Native drums not your thing? The variety of yoga classes offered is as awesome as the list of instructors. In combination with special dharma talks, musical offerings and even a Zozobra excursion and after-party, this is one mind-blowing, body-centered, soul-fulfilling three-day weekend.

Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)
Hold the pose and reach for the sky at the Santa Fe Yoga Festival! (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Yoga Festival)

Fusing Food and Fun is a Santa Fe Specialty

Once I’ve fused myself into fall mode via yoga, I’m heading for FUZE.SW, a deliciously enticing Sept. 12-14 celebration of food and folklore. A potent mix of James Beard Award-winning chefs blends with a tasty, coast-to-coast recipe of authors and food historians offering demonstrations and leading discussions. And of course, there’s food —Friday night at the Green Chile Smackdown (tickets sold separately) pairs with Fuze DineAround specials at local restaurants and Saturday offers food-truck lunching and a Five & Dime Frito Pie finish.

Chefs like James Campbell Caruso of La Boca stir up discussions, insights and more at FUZE.SW

The Thunder Hits Santa Fe in September

After pairing food fantasies with facts at FUZE.SW, running it off is in the offing thanks to the Santa Fe Thunder Run. For me the Sept. 14 half-marathon is wishful thinking, but I’m up to speed for the 5K. And a one-mile walk gives couch potatoes an excuse to get out into the countryside. The half-marathon starts in the heart of Santa Fe on a scenic course, dropping 1,000 feet downhill through Tesuque Village, passing the Santa Fe Opera, Tesuque Pueblo and Camel Rock before reaching the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino finish line. The feel-good extra? The non-profit Global Running Culture uses race proceeds as the primary income source for local and global programs empowering youth through fun and fulfilling sports activities.

Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)
Kenya’s Oyugi set a course record in the 2013 Santa Fe Thunder half-marathon. (Photo Credit: Katharine Egli for The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Game of Thrones Fans Get Medieval in Autumn Since “Winter is Coming”  

Speaking of fun, with September comes one of Santa Fe’s most fanciful events, the Sept. 20-21 Renaissance Faire at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.  If you’ve never visited El Rancho, you owe it to yourself to wander the grounds of this living history museum as locals in medieval garb pursue creative capers.

Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Juggling fire is all in a day’s work when Clan Tynker clocks in at the Renaissance Faire. (Photo Credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

You’ll be awed by Clan Tynker’s feats of magic and musical mayhem and an assortment of sword-fighting swashbucklers will thrill Game of Thrones fans. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out to see if local resident/author George R.R. Martin makes an appearance! It’s a certainty that their majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella will be there to hold court over this benefit for the Interfaith Community Shelter. Sixteen food vendors and a host of arts and crafts stands help make this a memorable weekend of bedlam and buffoonery.

 

Wind Your Way into Autumn with Wine and Chile

There’s a different kind of bedlam when the big tent goes up at the Santa Fe Opera for Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. Fine wines and fiery foods take center-stage Sept. 24-28 with a long list of tastings, seminars, demonstrations and wine dinners at Santa Fe’s best restaurants. Take the inaugural Gran Fondo Bike Ride to burn off extra calories as you stop at food stations for caloric indulgence before finishing with a champagne brunch. The Gruet Golf Classic pairs six signature wines with food from 10 terrific restaurants at Buffalo Thunder’s Towa Golf Course. And the Grand Tasting? I guarantee that once you partake in this truly grand experience, you’ll come back annually for the taste of Santa Fe!

There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)
There’s always more to pour and sample at the SFWC Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Fall Under Santa Fe’s Autumn Spell

The flow into fall is packed with delicious adventures for those lucky enough to live here or smart enough to get here for the magic. Whether it’s flexing your body into cobra pose or testing your palate at the west’s best wine festival, Santa Fe has it made. I’m up to this tempting task — how about you?

 

 

Eat Local: Head South

Know how it feels to unearth a hidden gem? Lately, hunger for the new has led me to the places locals love and visitors love discovering. Santa Fe dining gets plenty of good press, but maybe southside Santa Fe is a new concept to you. Thanks to a lively downtown that managed to fill in all the empty spaces over the last 400-plus years, the City Different has been expanding towards the south. Where there are residents, there will be restaurants. And where there is food, you’re going to find fun. Let’s take a trip down south, shall we?

Santa Fe finds great food and Southside festivities at San Isidro Plaza. (Photo Credit: Michael Dellheim, courtesy of San Isidro Plaza)
Santa Fe finds great food and Southside festivities at San Isidro Plaza. (Photo Credit: Michael Dellheim, courtesy of San Isidro Plaza)

Music, the Southside Appetizer

I have been raving about (and delighting in) the weeknight Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand Music Series. I can never get enough of the sounds of summer and my favorite bands and dear old friends have all made an appearance. But no one I know is singing “Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody” because we head south to the other Plaza for Saturday night performances. From 7-10 p.m. through Aug. 30, every local music hound is rocking to the beat on the San Isidro Plaza. And when you combine a night of free music and dancing with dinner at any of my secret haunts, your Saturday night will be extra-special!

Miraculous Meals are at El Milagro

Author Wayne Dyer says, “I am realistic — I expect miracles.” He should head for El Milagro (translation: The Miracle) to prove that thesis on a plate! Tucked inside San Isidro Plaza, this is the spot to bite into a tortilla burger. Smothered in red, green or both, it’s El Milagro’s New Mexico twist on an American standard. I dare you to try passing on the jalapeno poppers.

The sopapilla sundae at El Milagro is a towering treat. (Photo Credit: El Milagro)
The sopapilla sundae at El Milagro is a towering treat. (Photo Credit: El Milagro)

A full roster of New Mexican specialties includes the famed Indian taco (frybread base instead of tortilla) so you don’t have to wait for Indian Market to indulge. And leave room for something sweet, because Food Network Magazine ranks El Milagro’s Sopaipilla Sundae as the No. 1 frozen dessert in New Mexico.

There’s More than One Plaza Café to Please Your Palate

When you wander onto the Santa Fe Plaza, you’ll see the Native vendors lined up under the portal on the north side and hungry eaters lined up west outside the Plaza Café. Fortunately for those in the know, there’s an expansive outpost of this renowned restaurant named (easy guess) the Plaza Café Southside.

There’s a table waiting for you at the Plaza Café Southside. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)
There’s a table waiting for you at the Plaza Café Southside. (Photo Credit: TripAdvisor)

Locals and in-the-know visitors head south to San Isidro Plaza to munch on old favorites and their dedication has made the southside diner a favorite for the hungry hoards. Diner-style means a huge selection and breakfast all day and the house-made green chile cheddar bread is the perfect foil for fried eggs. And like many diners across the country, the Plaza Café has Greek roots, so the savory Greek Cheese Fries (house-cut fries with olive oil, lemon-caper sauce, oregano, feta & myzithra cheese) are a regular on my radar.

Cap Off a Trip to New Mexico’s Capitol at The Capitol Grill

San Isidro Plaza keeps the food choices coming. And me, I keep coming back to the Santa Fe Capitol Grill for fish and chips. As much as I love our New Mexico cuisine, I am a fish-on-Friday girl and it’s even better if I can find it any night of the week. Appetizers are supremely appetizing — just thinking about the duck nachos makes me hungry. I love the seating here too.

Capitol Grill’s fish and chips are an all-year treat.
Capitol Grill’s fish and chips are an all-year treat.

Quiet booths in the back allow for a cozy dinner with your cookie and the convivial bar area is inviting for a meet-up. Two happy hour opportunities make me and my gal pals perfectly happy to meet for an after-work or an after-dinner cocktail. And those Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Sundays are a very comforting promise on Saturday nights.

Home, Home on the Ranch

Santa Fe’s arts culture is noteworthy, but ranch culture is also a big part of our history. And anywhere there’s a ranch, there’s a ranch house. When I travel south to scan the racks for vintage at Look What the Cat Dragged In, I cross the street for a treat at The Ranch House. If I time my shopping right, I can score a seat during the 4-6 p.m. happy hour for a Pineapple Margarita or a signature Burro cocktail with Taos-made Lightning Bourbon.

Eat in or take-out:, Either way the Ranch House BBQ is smokin’ good. (Photo Credit: The Ranch House)
Eat in or take-out:, Either way the Ranch House BBQ is smokin’ good. (Photo Credit: The Ranch House)

Only two steak brands – New Mexico all-natural or Gold Canyon natural reserve angus – but all four cuts come topped by roasted shallot bourbon butter and crispy onions with calabacitas (New Mexico’s classic squash and chile mix) and baked potato sides. And not only do I love to eat the BBQ in, it’s a to-go lifesaver after work.

Think Outside the Square

Just when you think you’ve eaten at all the best spots, someone you know ups the ante by asking “Did you try that little place south of town?” If you’ve been reading here before eating here, I know you’ve been licking your chops to add some global cuisine or patio dining to your next Santa Fe visit. Now you can also take my Southside Santa Fe secrets for a trip, secure in the knowledge that you have all the answers.

 

Say ¡Que Viva Santa Fe!

I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but summer’s end is my favorite time of year. The gorgeous weather, a bounty of produce and Santa Fe’s liveliest local festivities offer the ultimate in hometown fun. The Que Viva feeling is alive, and I intend to get in the spirit.

Santa Fe Burns with Devotion to Old Man Gloom

Though I love my old man (okay, he’s not that old), I also love the Old Man, Zozobra, 90-year-old boss of this town. Picture a lovingly-crafted marionette scaled to more than 50 feet tall then set alight in a blaze of glory on a dark summer night.

Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.
Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.

Created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster and gifted in 1964 to the Santa Fe Kiwanis, Zozobra (aka Old Man Gloom) is Santa Fe’s annual cure for disappointment. Stuffed with the community’s glooms—pounds of shredded paper, including report cards, divorce papers and tax returns–he goes up in flames amid fantastic fireworks.

Zozobra’s Aug. 29 burning inaugurates the Decades Project, taking the event creatively back through time with designs mirroring past decades. Tongues are already wagging about his appearance, always one of our city’s most closely guarded secrets. In 2013, the Kiwanis added Zozofest, a family-friendly event (the actual burning can be scary) and this pre-burn fun comes to Sanbusco Market Center Aug. 23, 3-10 p.m. An all-Zozo art exhibition will be on display through Sunday afternoon and a portion of all sales benefits Zozobra events.

With a live entertainment backdrop, Mr. Z’s enormous head will be set up inside for photo ops. Gotta get something off your chest? Zozofest lets you add your gloom in person! And for those who can only be here in spirit, Virtual Zozobra gets your woes inside before The Old Man goes up in smoke! Can’t be there in person? The event will be streamed live here.

Fiestas de Santa Fe is a Centuries-old Party

Santa Fe’s 400-plus-year-old annual Fiestas de Santa Fe takes center stage to mark the 1692 re-conquest of the city following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Presided over by a re-enactment of Conquistador Don Diego and his Cuadrilla (think entourage) and escorted by a Queen (La Reina) and her court, Fiesta is utterly local and totally fun. Preparatory activities happen throughout the year and pre-Fiesta entertainment starts on the Plaza Aug. 23, 3-7 p.m. A Labor Day Weekend Arts and Crafts Fair, taking place Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, sets the tone for the upcoming festivities.

A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.
A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.

The Lensic hosts two Sept. 3 Mariachi Extravaganza performances; nothing like a few gritos to get you in the mood! Weekend food booths (yum!) set up Sept. 5 with an assortment of free entertainment on the Plaza Bandstand throughout. And two parades! Desfile de los Ninos (better known as the Pet Parade) provides “awwws” and paws Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. and Desfile de la Gente (the Hysterical-Historical Parade) amuses on Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. I’m the one yelling ¡Que Viva la Fiesta!— just answer “¡Que Viva!”

Be Green Burger-Wise

Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?
Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?

Food fits anyone’s agenda and personally I’m savoring the return of the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. Santa Fe takes mixing chile and burgers seriously and everyone’s invited to sample and vote. Contenders are vying to reach the finals and group burger-crawls are being spotted all over town. Voting closes Aug. 15 when six talented finalists pause until the Sept. 12 chow-down cook-off in the Santa Fe Railyard. Burger-lovers be warned: The 500 tickets for this taste test (beer included) will sell out!

If a burger and a beer don’t ring your bell, save your palate for the Sept. 24-28 return of the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival. Glad I can attend both (hint: so can you)! Ninety wineries and 75 restaurant partners put their heads together to create a stunning set of pairings, with signature events happening over five days. The blend of seminars, wine dinners, tastings and demonstrations will keep you sipping. And it all culminates with a Grand Tasting on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera.

Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)
Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Taste the Best of Summer in Santa Fe

Dying for a taste of Santa Fe? No apologies — that was my intention! I’m Santa Fe’s biggest summer cheerleader, and every one of these events is a winner in my book. Meet Old Man Gloom, shake paws with a pup dressed as Pikachu and grab a zesty bite of green chile — there’s plenty to go around and everyone’s invited to this summer party.

 

Take a Table Outdoors in Santa Fe

Al fresco! The words evoke the taste of what they promise. Dining outside is a welcome summer enjoyment, and we’re blessed with a bounty of options in Santa Fe. The temperate air beckons, so I’ve made it my business to see what’s cooking. Won’t you take a trip outside with me for patio pleasures?

Their Casa Is Your Casa

Old-World style courtyard construction styles brought beautiful open-air designs to the New World. Nowhere is this more evident than Sena Plaza, whose flower-laden courtyard hosts La Casa Sena. Tucked under 100-plus-year-old trees (look at the trunk size), Sena Plaza is one of the oldest surviving Santa Fe haciendas.

La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.
La Casa Sena’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s scenic beauties.

The building speaks volumes about Santa Fe history, and dining here is laden with taste and tradition. The menu hews to rich traditional New Mexico flavors (hello, chile and chimichurri) while crisp white tablecloths and seamless service lend a lovely air of elegance. Patio popularity means reservations suggested, but the 3–5 p.m. dinner gets you to the Plaza for 6 p.m. free music.

A Café Courtyard That’s Unforgettable

Love of historic buildings and fabulous food inevitably lead to SantaCafe. The kitchen never stumbles in the historic Padre Gallegos home north of the Plaza. The Padre himself had some mid-1800’s stumbles, having been defrocked for allegiance to the Bishop of Durango rather than New Mexico’s Bishop Lamy.

Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …
Head to SantaCafe for the spring rolls …

Gallegos’ gracious adobe home served as a boarding house, government offices and briefly, an Episcopal church. You can still look down into the home’s stone-lined well. I’m particularly fond of spending happy hour in the cool courtyard, noshing on vegetarian spring rolls that thankfully never leave the menu. I always hope the green-chile lobster roll is available for a gal-pal lunch, and supping on succulent lamb-chops is a divine beginning to nights ending at our outdoor Opera.

 … and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.
… and enjoy summer dining on the SantaCafe patio.

 

Meet for a Meal by a Master

Fabulous things happen when a great chef finds a home of his own. And Restaurant Martín is the perfect illustration. The husband-and-wife Rios team has a recipe for success that shows on the plate, especially outdoors. The airy patio is a delight and the recent expansion upped the ante. Sunday Brunch was my Mother’s Day treat and was I glad! I’m a sucker for the smoked salmon eggs Benedict, a dish that never disappoints. James Beard-award winner Chef Martín’s focus on freshness is pointedly assured with this bill-of-fare note: “Menu is subject to change due to Chef’s creativity and the seasonality of ingredients.” Be sure to leave room for dessert, because nothing says summer like house-made sorbet.

Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.
Cool stones, warm wood, green leaves rustling, flowers blooming … the patio at Restaurant Martin has all the ingredients.
A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)
A meal at Restaurant Martín always ends on a sweet note. (Photo Credit: Restaurant Martín)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Art Hotel for Artful Outdoor Dining

I’m lucky — I live here. But you’re lucky too when your hotel stay includes an ample patio and a terrific restaurant. You’ll find both at La Posada de Santa Fe, and I’m always ready to meet for a meal by the Fuego fire-pit. LaPo (its local moniker) may be best known for Julia Staab, the ghost who visits her former mansion, but for me, it’s the six acres surrounding this art-filled hotel that make mealtime memories.

Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.
Fire up Santa Fe memories on the patio at Fuego.

Fresh handmade tamales appear on Fridays and Saturdays; other days, the grapefruit and jicama salad insistently begs to be ordered. The menu is a thoughtfully balanced mix of traditional, New Mexican dishes and classics like Filet mignon. And on live-music nights, the historic Staab House bar creates a lively backdrop that’s signature Santa Fe.

Go To Burger Heaven Under the Blue Skies of Santa Fe

Are you surprised I haven’t mentioned our world-famous green chile cheeseburger yet? There’s a multitude of choices, but my go-to patio patty is the Santa Fe Bite. It was hard to score a seat at petite Bobcat Bite, its former incarnation, but its move into the heart of town easily accommodates new fans. Take time to work your way through this big burger, since no one makes you feel rushed as you watch the world stroll by.

The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.
The Santa Fe Bite does burgers right.

 

The Bite grinds their own meat so honor that homemade ethic with their crunchy and delicious homemade chips. Veggie burgers are a hit, and New Mexico specialties round out the menu. Fish’n’chips appear on Fridays, and the beer and wine list is pleasingly well-rounded.

 

 

 

Include Dining Outside When You Dine Out in Santa Fe

There’s simply no better way to enjoy our superb climate than to dine in it. I’ve probably made you hungry so I’ll be kind and stop here, but Santa Fe’s outdoor dining scene deserves in-depth discovery on your part. Azure skies yielding to glorious sunsets, cool evening descending, a good wine and dear friends together for a great meal — this memorable mixture guarantees all the smiles of a summer night.

Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.
Take a delicious bite of outdoor dining in Santa Fe.

International Dining Santa Fe Style

I could eat my way around the world. Seriously. Fortunately for me and my tummy, there’s no place like home for a culinary adventure that lets me savor a bounty of global dining traditions. In New Mexico, we offer more than just chile.

Spice of a Different Flavor

Confession: I eat a lot of fiery Santa Fe cuisine. But some days I’d like more than just a capsaicin kick from New Mexico chile. When I crave a kick of a different sort, I picture India, where peppers meet the intricate blend of southern hemisphere spices. Seated under cool leafy trees at Raaga, I can get my fix with an Indian-style mix.

Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.
Raaga (translation: sweet melody) hits all the right notes on the plate.

Paddy Rawal’s menu is simply enormous. His palate-pleasing path led from India to stints in Egypt, London and Dubai before creating his cozy Santa Fe café in an Agua Fria courtyard setting. The variety and complexity of choices means that vegetarians and vegans will be as delighted as those who crave an authentic chicken vindaloo.

The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.
The chicken palak is a palate-pleaser at Raaga.

An amazing number of delicacies can decorate a plate of rice, but discovering all the subtleties on the plate requires multiple returns. And of course there’s the naan — almost a dozen iterations in yummy bread choices. When ordering, it’s up to you to choose your heat index. Offered mild to medium to hell (yes, that’s what the menu says), my chicken palak was just perfect, thanks to waiter Dennis’ suggestion of medium-plus!

Andiamo! Immediatamente!

After years of dining out with Italian in-laws who know their pasta inside and out, I know that finding the right neighborhood trattoria means finding all the comfort foods of home.

Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”
Andiamo! is a light, bright and absolutely right spot to “Mangia Italiano!”

A historic 1880s building gives Andiamo! its neighborly feel. The Mission-style bungalow on Garfield Street offers old-school ambiance and an up-to-the-minute kitchen. And proximity to the Santa Fe Farmers Market means local NM ingredients meld molto bene with authentic Italian imports.

Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!
Spicy linguine arrabiata meets its match with cool Peroni beer at Andiamo!

Since I’m always on the hunt for hot, linguine arrabiatta is frequently in my sights but digging into the risotto with truffle oil is a tempting thought. Weekday lunch is a great deal due to its rotating cast of specials and with the Railyard Park across the street, al fresco take-out is a tasty option.

Antony, Take Me to Cleopatra

Okay, his name isn’t Antony, but my hero takes me to Cleopatra Café whenever I ask. With two locations, this Middle Eastern mecca makes a pita pit-stop an easy proposition. The original is in the downtown Design Center and you can’t beat the Zafarano outpost for scoring a quick table.

Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.
Cleopatra’s Gyro for my hero and the Nile Plate for me.

Service at both spots is fast and friendly, and affordable. Even with a beer, you’ll leave full and your wallet won’t suffer. The menu is a Middle-Eastern mash-up and boasts two different falafels: Lebanese-style with garbanzos or Egyptian with fava beans. Hummus is a staple for any homey feast and though a gyro works lunch-wise, the extra hungry should opt for the Nile Plate, laden with luscious lamb and a generous Greek salad. The Design Center is a fun backdrop for a visit since I can browse the shops after browsing the menu.

The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)
The Saltanah Dancers add some sultry spice to a meal at Cleopatra Café. (Photo Credit: Saltanah Dancers)

 

 

At the Zafarano location, I love the Middle Eastern soap operas murmuring from two corner screens and the Saltanah Belly Dancers add their sensuous gyrations at Thursday night performances. And at both spots there’s a mound of soft fresh pita bread.

The Far East is Nearer to The Plaza Than You Think

The multicultural mix of Santa Fe teaches its landlocked youngsters to look out to the world and my little one’s lessons generally lead to dinner decisions that revolve around sushi. I’m grateful her palate picks Shohko Cafe. The dining room’s window-side tables and sushi bar offer a serene oasis for delving into the culinary spectrum of Japan. The family owners of Shoko are always happy to provide a hijiki-to-handroll education.

Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)
Smiles come with the sushi at Shohko. (Photo Credit: Shohko Café)

 

Pursuing their interest in George Ohsawa’s macrobiotic philosophy, Shohko and Hiro Fukuda began a 40-year legacy with their original Oriental Natural Foods store. Over the years, three beautiful daughters and a detour into the restaurant kitchen resulted in this much-loved and frequently-visited Santa Fe spot.

Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)
Where’s the wasabi? At Shohko, of course. (Photo Credit: Eric Swanson)

We always start with seaweed salad and frankly, it’s so good I could eat it daily.. Enoki mushrooms sautéed in sake and butter on the Izakaya Menu (read “Japanese tapas”) are like no mushroom dish you’ve ever eaten. Green chile makes a welcome appearance in the tempura selection, and I love the bento box lunches. The sushi menu? Superb, and by the way, so is the sake menu!

Give the French Their Due

A classic like steak and fries sounds and tastes so much more chic when one orders Steak Frites, don’t you think? And nothing is as quite as classy as the dishes at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar.

315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.
315: It’s the name, the address and the place for finding food a la francaise.

Since 1995, 315 has been serving classic French culinary experiences to savvy diners at its Old Santa Fe Trail location. The flavors bring a French twist to fresh local ingredients and the wine list is one of the area’s largest and most thoughtfully-chosen. Combine those elements with a bar menu crafted for casual nights on the patio and you won’t be disappointed.

Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)
Pair the basil-wrapped shrimp with one of the 250+ wine selections at 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar. (Photo Credit: Joy Godfrey)

The menu is based on the best available in-season, along with some standards that loyal locals have refused to relinquish. It’s hard for me to resist fresh pea shoots and mais oui, no one makes confit like a French-trained chef.

Santa Fe: Serving the World on a Platter

We have it all here! Great weather, beautiful sunsets, world-class art and an array of cuisine in almost every accent. Even our world-famous green chile cheeseburger goes global on occasion. I’ve merely opened the menu, so take it from here and dig in.

 

Santa Fe: The Perfect Playground

Not to brag, but I surprised my sister and brother-in-law with the ultimate gift last weekend: A break from their kids during their Santa Fe stay. While they toured art galleries and sipped top-shelf margaritas, I introduced my 7-year-old niece and 9-year-old nephew to the kid-friendly wonders of Santa Fe.

Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.
Pieces like this animal-eyed work from the Andes Exhibit at the International Folk Art Museum expand kids’ world vision.

With an abundance of hands-on arts exhibits, miles of free biking and hiking, and scores of open-air festivals, I heard plenty of oohs and ahhs, but not one, “I’m booooored.”

 

The Harrell House Is Crawling with Knowledge

Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.
Kids swarm to see the bugs at Harrell House.

Tarantulas, millipedes, and scorpions, oh my! The Harrell House of Natural Oddities & Bug Museum offers a scientific adventure for nature lovers big and small. With 2,400 specimens on display and scores of live insects children can hold in their hands (under the watchful eyes of the Harrell House pest pros, of course), children are drawn to this locale like moths to flames. The gift shop offers toys, fossils and science projects. Luckily for me, the tarantulas aren’t for sale.

 

Interactive Galleries will Make Art Aficionados of your Little Ones

At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.
At any one of the museum’s kid-centric events, kids are encouraged to touch the art.

Each year, the Santa Fe Arts Institute hosts Arts Alive! events at museums across the city. Spur your little traveler’s creative side with sessions like Japanese kite-making, crafting animal masks, and creating Brazilian dolls, happening Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm. Arts Alive! proved to be so popular that programs like Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan, has just been extended through July 27. And the breathtaking hand-carved animals featured in the Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico, will be on display through next February.

If an Arts Alive! visit doesn’t fit into your travel plans, not to worry. My niece, nephew and I devised our own ideal itinerary. We started by peddling along to the Santa Fe Botanic Gardens along its scenic bike path before cutting over to Museum Hill. The Hill features four of Santa Fe’s premier museums—the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Spanish Colonial Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art—in one walkable location (even for the shortest of strides).

We made our last stop at the folk art museum, with more than 150,000 cultural artifacts captivating my niece and nephew. Besides the traditional masks and dolls from around the world, interactive galleries—complete with hands-on art stations and a Tree of Life-theme play area—transfixed my pint-sized tourists.

Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.
Panoramic views from the Museum Hill Café patio thrill adults and kids alike.

After all the oohing and ahhing, we were a little famished. So we grabbed a quick, tasty bite at Museum Hill Café. The outdoor bistro boasts stunning mountain vistas and a broad menu perfect for every palate.

Santa Fe Children’s Museum Leaves EVERYTHING to the Imagination

The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers the ultimate playground for a child’s mind. And if you’re like me, you can’t help but rediscover your inner child within its walls. This place brims with fun activities for the kids: A dress-up area, cozy story space, water table, wooden blocks, giant bubbles, and much more.

Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.
Space Station: The Santa Fe Children’s Museum offers an entire floor for interactive activities.

My nephew couldn’t get over the rope chairlift…yep, only in Santa Fe. Outside, the kids tore into a digging area, live music space, a working garden, and more.

But the real hit was Makerspace: An 800 square-foot workshop full of cool tools and technology, from soldering irons to sewing machines to a computer lab. Just sign your kid up for their workshops and classes and let your little ones craft their perfect day.

Their calendar of upcoming events includes an open art studio, watercolor exploration, and even a jewelry-making class on Sundays!

A Crafty Celebration Worthy of Your Scrapbook

The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.  (Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)
The Spring Festival and Children’s Fair makes any kid a happy camper.
(Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Planning a Santa Fe visit June 2-3? Don’t miss the annual Spring Festival & Children’s Fair. This weekend celebration will be held at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum set on 200 rolling acres. Kids love the sheep shearing, weaving, and blacksmithing demonstrations, and can try their hand at archery, arts & crafts, face painting, and lots more. Factor in wagon rides, music, dancing, live animals that include mini-horses, a rare white buffalo, and a wolf, and you’ve got a memory that can only be made in Santa Fe. Kids 12 and under get in free, so pack a family picnic and get ready for a weekend adventure.

Make This Vacation Your Kids’ Santa Fe-vorite

When my niece and nephew reconnected with their Mom and Dad after all of our explorations, they could barely get the words out fast enough to describe the experience. These sights and sounds had them truly inspired, as well as really tired. (I got major thumbs up from both parents and kids on this outing!) The fact is, the adventures we adult Santa Fe enthusiasts can discover here are darn near equaled by the thrills that await the kiddos. So don’t forget the camera. Your kids will want to relive this adventure over and over.

Santa Fe: Artful and Full of Art

Drawn to the artistic? I know the feeling well. Watching the talent on parade at Canyon Road’s Passport to the Arts last weekend left me with an appetite for more. Fortunately, Santa Fe delivers a mighty dose of the artistic every single month. There’s so much happening this summer that it’s taken me two weeks to share it all with you. (You read last week’s post, right?) Rest assured, my soul — and yours — won’t go hungry.

Let Your Eyeballs Lead You on an Artful Tour

Summer’s arrival brings long shadows. Around here, we call that time of day “legend light” and the magnificent landscape has been inviting paintbrushes, pastels, and photographers for centuries. Many artisans call Santa Fe home, and revelation arrives when these artistic residents open their doors to welcome us to the Santa Fe Studio Tour June 27-29.

Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)
Painter Jayne Levant plies her brushes with ease. (Photo Credit: Santa Fe Studio Tour)

A Friday night preview at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design kicks off the excitement. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s time to work the map. The Santa Fe Studio Tour offers the opportunity to visit with 58 artists in 37 studios across the city. Chatting with the artists and seeing their creative spaces always gives me more context, deeper insights into their work. Plus, I get to see whose space is the quirkiest.

 

 

 

 

From Cutting Edge to Classic at Weekend Warp Speed

The Downs at Santa Fe may have morphed from a racetrack into a flea market, but the City Different is way out ahead of the field with this summer’s Art Trifecta. From July 12-14, three stellar organizations join forces to create a winning triplet of artistic expression. Two are storied annual festivals, Art Santa Fe and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and they share this summer weekend with SITE Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s year-round destination for the avant-garde, SITE is revered by locals for showcasing radical re-evaluations of what art means in the 21st century.

Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)
Enrique Martinez Celaya pulls you into the world of The Pearl. (Photo Credit: Peter Kirby)

The Friday, July 13 opening for The Pearl proves the point with a multi-media exhibition of works by Cuban artist Enrique Martinez Celaya (who also trained as a physicist – now that definitely piques my interest).

 

 

Art Santa Fe — Three Words That Say It All

While Santa Fe has a justifiable reputation as the art capital of the Southwest, the art is by no means all Western-style. We have our share of cowboy painters —and darn good ones, too — but cutting edge work shows up all the time. And nowhere is this more evident than at Art Santa Fe.

At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)
At Art Santa Fe, you can look at the art while it looks at you. (Photo Credit: Art Santa Fe)

Kids rebelling against the idea of another museum? Turn their eye-rolling into the eye-opening with a trip to Art Santa Fe. The international, contemporary art fair July 10-13 brings the newest, boldest, most original works in its 14th show. My little artist anticipates seeing what’s new every summer and participating in a number of the event’s special sessions, like Korean papermaking I know where I’ll be spending a lot of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

Globally Yours in Santa Fe

You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.
You’re guaranteed to find the finest in folk art under the blue skies of Santa Fe.

Just as the quickly as Art Santa Fe has transported me to unimagined other worlds, a quick jaunt over to Museum Hill to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market sends me back to the past, to traditions, and to the far reaches of the globe.

Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
Bertha Aquino works intricate designs onto a gourd at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

With over 150 folk artists from more than 60 countries collected in the space (the expansive Milner Plaza), on same weekend (July 11-13), I can watch a Guatemalan master gourd carver at work, while munching on Indian samosa and listening to Kenyan music.  The best part? As I load up my new, handmade basket for Farmers Market shopping or adorn myself with some great new ethnic jewelry I’ve picked up at the market, I’ll do it in good conscience: Artists take home roughly 90% of all proceeds to support their families—and traditions– back home. I’ve already purchased my ticket!

Santa Fe’s Historic Art Heritage Hits the Plaza

It’s no surprise that Santa Fe boasts the deepest roster of traditional Spanish artists in the country. Many of the artisans who show at Spanish Market are direct descendants of the Spanish settlers who, when packing for their trip across the ocean into the new world, decided against packing easels and paint brushes. (No room on the burro!) Without any of the Old-World gold-leaf for decoration, the settlers turned instead to gold-colored straw, crafting intricate straw inlay to decorate their homes and churches.

Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.
Lawrence Cordova’s santos are altar-worthy.

And without any oils or paints, they mixed natural pigments still used by traditional retablo artist to depict and honor their favorite saints.

It’s not just the divine that’s sublime, though.  After popping into the St. Francis Basilica, I like to head over to the Contemporary Hispanic Market for some twists on tradition.

 

 

Pack Your Comfortable Walking Shoes for Indian Market

Santa Fe’s renowned SWAIA Indian Market turns 93 this year but hardly shows its age. In fact, it seems to get bigger and stronger every year. No wonder, since this is the country’s premiere Native American Arts Festival. (Note to self: Don’t forget the comfy footwear!)

Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.
Beautiful beadwork will blow your mind at SWAIA’s Indian Market.

Indian Market is a sell-out occasion, so make hotel reservations in advance. That way, you can hit the stalls early before the best pieces are whisked away by proud new owners.

I appreciate how the entire town–locals and visitors alike–turns out in their finery for Indian Market. No doubt, we’re stimulated by the variety of colors and textures on display. And if you mosey over to the Bandstand, you might see how all the elements of a Native costume work in unison when the person on stage does a hoop dance.

Indian Market covers not only the entirety of Santa Fe’s Plaza but the gamut of native art as well. And it’s not all pottery and turquoise.

Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.
Painter Ryan Singer poses with his self-portrait.

Artistic traditions vary from region to region, with Pima baskets and Haida carvings, Pueblo pottery or Navajo weaving. Contemporary artists are also on display, giving us a generous peek at the next generation of tradition. Simply put, Indian Market is on my Must List!

From Far and Near, the Art Comes Here

I know, lucky me, I live here. Sorry if I’ve made it hard for you to choose. That’s why my own visitors come back again and again … and again. All these wonderfully artistic events return annually, too, so pick what you’ll be doing in Santa Fe this summer and next summer — I know you’ll be back!

Make Your Next Visit to Santa Fe a Tour de Force

Do you occasionally feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, pressed for time and harnessed to a big watch? Discover the spirit of Santa Fe! We take relaxing-into-the-moment seriously, so I think you should leave the planning to us. Making the most of limited time means doing only what’s necessary, then letting the professionals take over. Once you’ve made plane reservations or tuned up the truck, pick out a great hotel (a tough choice you’ll have to make for yourself), then take a break by touring with adventurous experts who make it their business to see that your getaway is grand.

Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!
Train, plane or automobile — just get yourself to Santa Fe and let the locals share the best!

Lose Yourself in a Legendary Landscape

The vistas here are so large and the possibilities so many that it takes a pro to know where to start. You can’t do better than Georges and Sue Mally of Santa Fe Walkabouts, ranked #1 for Santa Fe activities on TripAdvisor. This dynamic duo and their powerful Pinzgauer (not their dog, it’s their fun all-terrain vehicle) get you out of town and into nature in informative and entertaining style. Want to explore the otherworldly Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks? You can scramble to the top or gaze at the azure sky from the bottom of a slot canyon. Hiking can be an easy excursion past ancient petroglyphs or a challenging climb in Georgia O’Keeffe country.

Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)
Gaze at the gorgeous landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe with Santa Fe Walkabouts as your guide. (Photo credit: Santa Fe Walkabouts)

Mountain biking your thing? Take a canyon-rim cruise or a strenuous trek straight up the mountain, as Georges paces you pedal for pedal. And then, there’s the Pinz … be it a rocky road to a remote area or a glorious sunset tour to say goodnight to Santa Fe, this is a one-of-a-kind ride you won’t forget in a hurry! You may lose yourself in wonder at what you see, but in the expert care of Walkabouts, you’ll never get lost in anything but dreams!

 

Feed Your Fantasies in Santa Fe

Fun in the sun makes for a delicious day, but you can combine seeing sights with scrumptious flavors in a foodie-style adventure with Food Tour New Mexico. Ranked as TripAdvisor’s #1 Santa Fe sightseeing tour, these rambles through regional specialties should not be missed. And there’s more than one recipe for a nosh through our noteworthy cuisine.

The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.
The green leafy courtyard at La Casa Sena is a thing of beauty — and so is the food.

The Taste of Santa Fe includes such notable spots as La Casa Sena (tucked inside Santa Fe’s most beautiful courtyard), Taberna La Boca, James Campbell Caruso’s temple of tapas, and Kakawa Chocolate House, recognized as one of the country’s best places for hot chocolate. The Sample Santa Fe tour takes a similar tack, with stops at the San Francisco Street Bar & Grill (a locals’ favorite), Upper Crust Pizza, and Senor Murphy, Santa Fe’s historic chocolatier, tucked alongside the historic La Fonda Hotel. And for those who love a sippin’ sampler, there’s even a Culinary Cocktail Tour — that’s one with shaken or stirred skills to take home!

On the subject of testing the palate with pleasurable potions, be it wine, beer, or spirits, the City Different accommodates different drinking desires. Given that foodies like us like vino, it’s no surprise to learn that you can spend an awesome afternoon tasting local vintages at Estrella del Norte Vineyards.

Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)
Discover the vines in the oldest wine-growing state: New Mexico! (Photo credit: Estrella del Norte Vineyard)

A 15-mile drive north gives wine lovers the flavor of the northern New Mexico terroir and a scenic road trip. Throughout summer, there’s a smattering of wine dinners and classes, and there’s even an April 19th vineyard planting if you want to literally get into la tierra.

If beer’s a beloved buddy (I cherish my hoppy memories), there’s always plenty of brew bubbling. My recommendation is Small Batch Saturday at the Santa Fe Brewing Company. Originating with a local homebrew organization, these 10-gallon gatherings give local beer-loving club members a chance to brew with the experts and share the craft results. Brewery tours or tastings are every bit as tasty as you’d expect from Santa Fe’s oldest brewery, with 20 or so beers in rotation; favorites are always on tap!

It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)
It’s always “brewtastic” to taste what’s on tap at Santa Fe Brewing Company. (Photo credit: Max Otwell)

Santa Fe is a spirited town, and the inroads made by Santa Fe Spirits are proof positive. In just a few short years, Colin Keegan, the don of distillers, has managed to put not only whisky, but vodka, gin, and an apple brandy into the mix. A short drive takes you to an artisan adventure in locally crafted spirits, and it’s enlightening to discover that what we enjoy at leisure commands so much expert attention. A distillery tour is my choice, because I like combining a sip with an education, but knowledge is on hand at the downtown tasting room if you’re afoot and footloose on a sunny Santa Fe afternoon.

It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)
It’s a barrel of fun to discover the spirits of Santa Fe and taste them too! (Photo credit: Santa Fe Spirits)

Follow the Leader and Do It Yourself

If you’re one for marching to the beat of your own drum, make the most of Santa Fe by merely following a beaten path laid out by trail-blazers just like you. If you’re firmly convinced (I am) that a chocolate a day is the key to keeping the doctor away — it is a proven fact that chocolate is good for you – spend a sweet afternoon on a Chocolate Lovers’ Odyssey. You might want to pair that sweet tooth with a caffeine fix, in which case, a Coffee Tour will hit the spot.

One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.
One way or another, all paths lead to green chile in Santa Fe.

And eventually, when it’s time to settle down for a real meal, a detour to hunt down your favorite version of our famed Green Chile Cheeseburger simply has to be on the agenda.

Leave the Driving to Us

Even if your trip is just a short hop, I commend you for coming … and I assure you, you’ll be back. The spell of Santa Fe is simply too magical. But if you only have a weekend, take a tram tour to plan for deeper exploration next time. Seeing the sights seated on your keister saves time and foot-power, because there’s just so much to see.

 

Custom Tours by Clarice shuttles the curious on daily tours of our historic downtown four times a day, seven days a week, and if Clarice herself is at the wheel, the friendly flow of conversation is wide-ranging. The Loretto Line Tour Company is Santa Fe’s oldest tram tour, but the enthusiasm and expertise of their guides is fresh as a daisy. Running three times a day every day of the week, Loretto tours cover all the legendary downtown spots, leaving you with a comprehensive overview and a plan for returning to places that piqued your interest.

There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)
There’s more than one way to ride in Santa Fe. (Photo Credit: Loretto Line Tours)

 

Leave the Planning to Us

We’ll take good care of you once you get here; after all, we appreciate our renown as the cultural hotspot of the Southwest. And that means lots of locals make their living by welcoming with open arms and minds full of fascinating facts the visitors who want to enjoy our historic city. Why not leave the selections, explanations, and driving to us? You just kick back and enjoy the scenery, the flavor and the fun! My way of getting the best of the adventure is by spending the least amount of energy planning. Try seeing Santa Fe my way — I know you’ll like it!

Spring in Santa Fe…Love Your Greens

My sweaters have been washed and loaded into the cedar chest, my boots are back in the inner recesses of my closet, and I am so ready for spring. Just when I am totally fed up with winter vegetables, spring obliges me with new inspiration on getting fed. As the sun lifts higher in its course over the blue skies of Santa Fe, I feel lighter and brighter, and that means it’s time to say hello to the fresh green flavors of spring.

It makes everyone happy to see spring greenery return to Santa Fe at the Nedra Matteucci Sculpture Garden.
It makes everyone happy to see spring greenery return to Santa Fe at the Nedra Matteucci Sculpture Garden.

Vinaigrette Is So Much More Than a Salad Dressing

What can you say to a salad bistro except “I love you”? I say it regularly to Vinaigrette, along with giving thanks regularly for bountiful salads that spare me the struggle of trying to pair two lightweight appetizers to make one satisfying meal. If you bring a big boy with a bigger appetite, savory protein additions can be added, though I rarely need to tweak. During the summer growing season, a majority of the organic produce is sourced directly from the owner’s 10-acre Nambe farm, so saying Vinaigrette is farm-to-table is right on target.

A Vinaigrette salad has a whole cast of characters at play!
A Vinaigrette salad has a whole cast of characters at play!

 

My personal favorite is the French Frisee; cherie, I just feel so chic when I eat those curly greens (mais oui, the bacon lardons are tres delicieux). And j’adore the clever word play that invites me to tickle my taste buds with choices like the Nutty Pear-fessor or All Kale Caesar. There is a cast of seasonal salads in play too, and if your dining pals simply must have soup or a sandwich, both are on the menu. And in warm weather, I delight in the cozy back patio for enjoying my greens with a glass of wine and a good friend.

Sampling Sweet Spring Greens at Sweetwater

Me, I love a Brussels sprout. I always think it’s a shame that these beautiful stalks of tiny, tightly wrapped, tender leaves only seem to show up at holidays. That’s why I’m happy that they materialize at my mealtime when I land at the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen. I’m so hooked on the bright, cheery, sustainable nature of this friendly spot, recently named by FlipKey as a top restaurant in New Mexico. My Green Goddess salad was chock-full of fresh greens, walnuts, pears and the afore-mentioned Brussels sprouts, all coated with avocado dressing. My inner goddess deserves this heavenly treat.

Green me up, Sweetwater!
Green me up, Sweetwater!

Lunch and dinner both have ample options for me and my vegan and gluten-free friends. On Wednesday Thai nights we can “Thai one on” with the once-a-week Asian dishes like Cambodian green mango salad or Vietnamese spring rolls. Wine and beer menu, yes, and those selections rotate to keep us interested. Thanks to Sweetwater, I’ve also discovered that breakfast can be pretty green, with smoothies like Sweet Greens (fruit-heavy but with spinach too!) or Soma’s Sunrise (carrots, beets, kale, and apple). Eat it…drink it…they have it all!

 

Make a Bee-line for The Beestro

Sitting in a beautiful dining room or outdoor patio is a treat at lunchtime; after all, I do plenty of brown-bagging during the week. But when there’s not enough time to make a leisurely lunch hour reality, the petite Beestro comes to the rescue. I can perch on one of the outdoor stools, or I can do take-out, which is perfect for a desk jockey, and just as perfect if I want to sit on the Plaza to people-watch. “Chef-made daily” and “available until sold-out” are calls to action that tantalize me, as is curbside service — call once to order, again at the pick-up spot, then receive the goods.

It’s always buzzing at The Beestro.
It’s always buzzing at The Beestro.

As a tried-and-true SantaFesina, I’m always up for a kick of chile, so the Serrano Lime Chicken Farmer’s Market Salad had my name on it (literally, because I called ahead just in case they ran out). Below a layer of marinated grilled chicken lay fresh greens, thin shavings of carrots and beets, salty olives, and a host of veggies snuggled together. I slathered on the piquant jalapeno ranch dressing, put my fork to work, and I was one very happy chiquita!

Bring it on, Beestro, and we’ll take it out!
Bring it on, Beestro, and we’ll take it out!

Spring is happening at the Santa Fe Farmers Market

The ultimate in greenery, of course, is being served up as we “speak” at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. With spring here, the Market is alive with new activity. There’s always a line for fresh greens from Mr. G’s, so get there early or go without. Bouquets of flowers are once again adorning dinner tables all over town, and the final jars of last season’s jams are selling out in preparation for what is to come.

We celebrate the return of spring with bright bouquets of color from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
We celebrate the return of spring with bright bouquets of color from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.

Not a week goes by that I don’t feel lucky to shop at this centrally-located market, ranked as one of the country’s best by Travel + Leisure magazine. Open in the Santa Fe Railyard on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, it’s one of my go-to’s all year long, and not just for food, since I love the sustainable focus of the Wednesday movie series screening in the Pavilion at 7 pm through May.

Green Up Your Santa Fe Dining

That eat-green feeling is calling … not just for me but also for anyone who sees the sun arc higher or feels the gentle spring rain coaxing tulips to open and the first peas to flower. I am feeling refreshed and ready for everything green; will you accept an invitation to dine on the green side of Santa Fe?