Santa Fe is most well-known for its art scene, from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum to dozens of galleries along Canyon Road and around the plaza. This year, as the city turns 400 years old, the culinary scene is thrust into the spotlight too – and for more than chili peppers.
The best way to experience Santa Fe flavors, especially if your trip is short, is to sign up for a walking tour to four restaurants ($115) near the plaza with Santa Fe School of Cooking. Offered on select afternoons each month, at each stop the chef serves a tapas-sized menu sample plus an alcoholic beverage before sharing his or her philosophy on cooking. Restaurants frequented in the line-up are Amavi, La Casa Sena, Rio Chama, Santacafe, Galisteo Bistro, 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, and La Boca. Be sure to drop by the school’s market where rare spices and seasonings are sold, as well as useful and unique kitchen gadgets.
Café Pasqual’s second-floor art gallery, above the restaurant on Don Gaspar near the plaza, specializes in selling art and also micaceous cookware made by Jicarilla Apache potter Felipe Ortega. Dine downstairs for breakfast, lunch or dinner, where the menu celebrates hearty New Mexican dishes, such as Chile Relleno Con Huevos, a cheese plate with chile pecans and seasonal fruit, Chimayo chile rubbed grilled filet mignon from Niman Ranch or Rosie’s organic chicken mole enchiladas.
For pretty and elegant table linens, glasses and serving ware, shop at Cielo Tabletop on Guadalupe Street, very near the Santa Fe Farmers Market, which is open year-round in a brand-new pavilion in the Railyard District. Cooking demos taught by chefs at local restaurants draw a crowd at the market, as they teach how to use local ingredients, such as chili peppers. Cutlery of Santa Fe, a half block off the plaza, has been around since 1977, selling steak and carving knives to discriminating foodies, all inlaid with turquoise in Southwestern designs.
BODY is a healthy-lifestyle mecca a quick car-drive south of the plaza. With a café, spa and yoga studio already in place, the five-year-old business recently added a cooking school, where you can witness demos in how to make raw, organic truffles sweetened with agave nectar, for instance. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the café are prepared from ingredients that are organic or locally sourced, and some prepared following the raw-foods principles. Huevos rancheros, raw pesto-ghetti (sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil pesto and various vegetables), chicken or wild smoked-salmon quesadillas, and collard-green burritos are just some of the options. Even the drinks here tap into the sustainability movement, including local organic beer, organic wine, veggie cocktails and elixers.