Destination: Santa Fe
Nestled in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this Southwest town beckons with wine, fine food, art and opera.
An hour’s drive north of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s state capital, Santa Fe, has long attracted fine visual artists, art collectors and those who appreciate the Southwestern blend of Pueblo, Native American and cowboy cultures. Foodies also marvel at what internationally trained chefs do with green and red chilies, rich moles, blue corn meal and grass-fed beef.
Santa Fe has preserved its heritage without becoming fossilized, so hotels—like the rest of the town—exist in low profile. The most convenient are near the Santa Fe Plaza—the historic, cozy, well-appointed Hotel St. Francis; the homey but up-to-date Inn of the Governors with free breakfasts; the more-recently constructed Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi; the large and dripping-with-art Eldorado Hotel & Spa, which boasts an extensive list of wines and Tequilas in its Agave Lounge. All are good places to spend a night—or a week. Within a 15-minute drive is The Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa, a historic, 450-acre estate with luxurious two- and three-bedroom villas.
Big festival draws include the summertime The Santa Fe Opera and the Wine & Chile Fiesta in September. Among many local museums, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-see. Look in on the St. Francis Cathedral and Loretto Chapel with its “miraculous” staircase, though shopping trumps all, with dozens of world-class art galleries, clothing and housewares shops along Canyon Road near downtown. Don’t miss Shiprock Santa Fe for an array of jewely, pottery and fine art.
Wine & Food:
Like hotels, most of the best restaurants are near the Plaza. Start with a glass of Gruet Brut, the affordable New Mexico sparkler, at Anasazi Restaurant, with its inventive regional food; then venture the next night to Nostrani, which warns diners to wear no fragrances to battle aromas of its wonderful Tuscan-derived fare and massive Italian wine list. You may have to wait in line at Café Pasqual’s for big and bold comfort food (smoked trout hash, huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos), starting with breakfast. For lunch, munch on fish tacos and hot-pepper poppers at Coyote Café’s rooftop cantina. Tapas and country-club entreés are available at Galisteo Bistro. The top of Canyon Road is home to three dining icons—the best-kept secret, The Compound; the best-known local standard for food and entertainment, El Farol; and probably the best local fine-dining period, Geronimo. On the near South Side, Ristra has French-influenced food in a homey setting, and newly launched Epazote frames its gourmet oeuvres in an art gallery. Road houses include the good, but scruffy Bobcat Bite and the in-or-outside Tesuque Village Market for great green-chili burgers. Street food? Taco carts on the plaza and Five & Dime General Store’s meal-in-a-bag Frito pie provide good walking-around snacks.