Santa Fe: A magical place to eat, stay and eat!
If you have never been to this part of our country, I highly recommend you put it on your Must See Places to Visit. To start, your taste buds will thank you. The food in Santa Fe and throughout New Mexico is something really special, somewhere between Mexican and Tex-Mex but with a flare you’ll only find here. Just be sure to clean out your freezer before you go to make room for all the red and green chile you’ll be lugging back home with you.
I’ve stayed in many different types of accommodations in and around Santa Fe, but this time around we splurged for a room at the El Dorado, just a few blocks from the historic Santa Fe Plaza. They have beautiful rooms, a roof-top pool and truly amazing staff. We were able to park the car on site, which is key in downtown Santa Fe, and walked most everywhere we wanted to go.
I first visited Santa Fe 20 years ago with a few friends who were planning to relocate there. I just happened to be moving to Colorado and thought a month in New Mexico sounded fun. Little did I know, this experience would change my life. We took up residence in a campground 20 minutes South of town, called Rancheros de Santa Fe, and spent our days exploring the area. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately at the time, I didn’t have the money to go out to eat so I didn’t get to experience the mind-blowing food. If I had, I may never have left, never made it to Colorado, never met my husband, never became a mom to Noah…I’d just be 200 pounds in a rehab facility trying to cure my chile addiction.
Santa Fe is more than just food, however. Being the oldest city in New Mexico, they have crazy amounts of old churches, museums, art galleries and jewelry (predominantly turquoise), which is easily found on Palace Ave at the Palace of the Governors, where locals line up to display and sell all their beautiful turquoise treasures. This spot alone is worth the visit. I’ve been to the country of Mexico a dozen or more times in my life, and love to shop for Mexican-themed kitchen ware and other unique items, but if you’re not able to make it that far south, New Mexico has all of that and more.
One of my favorite places to hang out in Santa Fe is along Canyon Road. Hmm… that might sound a little weird. But you’d understand if you’ve been here. Canyon Road is a artists dream and eye candy for all of us wannabe artists. Just take a turn off the Paseo de Peralta onto Canyon Road and you’re there. The entire road, beginning to end, is lined with shops, galleries, cafes and of course, high end dog boutiques. It’s almost impossible to explain. Meander down the side alleys with your camera and you’ll find old buildings with the coolest painted doors and windows, and amazing little sculptures hiding in the shadows. It’s a photographer’s dream.
A word to the wise…depending on the company you keep, you may want to make Canyon Road a solo adventure. It’s not exactly a kid’s idea of fun and you don’t want the moment spoiled by the never-ending question, “Can we leave yet?”
There are so many amazing restaurants all throughout Santa Fe. Here are a few of our favorites around the Plaza:
The Shed: A Groovy little adobe tucked back in behind and outside courtyard. If you’re traveling with a tall companion, you’d better keep your eyes up or you’re likely to leave with head injury. The doorways are rather low. Also, call ahead for a reservation or just show up and put your name in for the hour wait and enjoy a margarita in that beautiful courtyard I mentioned.
Coyote Café- This place is just fun. It’s your typical Mexican restaurant, and I only say “typical” because they seem to have more of your traditional tex-mex foods and some southwest thrown in. It sits on a rooftop, a block off the Plaza and is always alive with music a feeling of excitement. We tried thier green chile pasole soup on our last visit and I’ve been searching for a recipe for something similar ever since.
Pascuals (for breakfast)- I would never visit Santa Fe without a stop at Pascuals Cafe (Hey, I’m a poet!) Similar to The Shed, you should plan in advance as they typically have a hefty wait. The place only holds 50 people at a time and it’s not a secret. I’m not sure if they take reservations but that would be way to organized of thinking for me in the mornings, so we usually show up with a coffee in hand and plan to chat with the other people waiting to get in. Don’t be afraid to say “first-available” for a table. They have a great community table in the middle of this tiny room, and it’s honestly the best way to enjoy breakfast here. Pascuals is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but breakfast is enough to set your wallet back a bit, so if you decide on Pascuals for dinner, be sure and let me know how it is. It’s out of my price range.
35° North (for coffee)- We just came across this little gem on this last visit, hidden on the second floor of the Plaza Mall. Their coffee was amazing, and they had a groovy little room to enjoy it in. And the best little secret…beignets. Yes, you read right! Delicious, powdered sugar-covered, deep-fried nuggets from Heaven. Maybe not exactly what you’d find at Café du Monde in New Orleans, but a nice treat nonetheless.
Don’t be afraid to explore the foods beyond the Plaza as well. You could literally eat your way through this town and never have a bad meal. I feel like my system has an amazing tolerance for this kind of food, but you may want to pack some tums if you’re the sensitive type.
Best Places to Eat in Santa Fe
Things to do with kids in Santa Fe
Is Santa Fe for kids? Well, I’d like to say we make every place we travel a place for kids in our own way, but truth is, some places just aren’t on a 9-year old’s bucket list. And although there are a few more kid-friendly things to do than the last time I was there, I may opt to keep this little gem a mom-only adventure in the future.
Hiking around Santa Fe
When you’re not feeding your face full of amazing southwest food, a great way to spend the day is out in Hyde Park (http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/documents/HydeTrailsGuide2pg.pdf Just a short dive from town, the trails in Hyde Memorial State Park are endless. If you’re a seasoned hiker or just someone who’s looking for a short walk to burn off a few of the many calories you’ve been consuming, you can find the right trail for you. I really enjoy the different flora and fauna (mainly because I love to say flora and fauna). But, depending on your elevation gain while hiking, from the Desert Zone to the Alpine Zone, you’ll come across a multitude of different trees, plants, shrubs and wildlife.
Related article: Habitats and wildlife of the Santa Fe National Forest
Ok, there are endless amounts of things to tell you about in Santa Fe, but I mainly just want you to know that you should GO THERE. Just go! Do a little research through Uncle Google, find the right kind of accommodations for you, from camping to high end hotels, bring a good pair of walking shoes and some Tupperware with screw on lids, and the rest you’ll figure out once you’re there.
Next stop…Taos! May be my favorite city in New Mexico. Article coming soon so be sure and check back.