Santa Fe, NM: Gastronomic, Historic, and Scenic Adventure Destination

Posted by Abigail Schmidt on July 23, 2014 (0 Comments)

Everything you’d expect, including the unexpected!

Whenever I tell people that I lived in Santa Fe for five years, they usually reply one of two ways: either “I always wanted to go there!” or “Oh I love it there, I can’t wait to go back!” Miles of bright orange and pink mesas peppered with sagebrush, rustic cantinas, world class skiing, Native American cliff dwellings, hot springs just outside of town, and a melting pot of people and cultures doesn’t nearly cover all of the alluring attributes of this travel destination.  Surely it has its idiosyncratic peculiarities, but without these, it could not be one of the few places where echoes of the old west still reverberate loud and clear and the truly mystical trumps logic.  The oldest house in America lives here! The stunning plein air tented opera house offers up endless oxygenated sunset views in lieu of stuffy indoor seating. All this, and adobe-shaped behemoth casinos with matching gas station quick-marts too!

Don’t come to the land of enchantment expecting flashy new skyscrapers and uber-urban civic centers. They don’t really exist here (sorry Albuquerque), but New Mexico is hands down one of the prettiest states ever made and Santa Fe is its most exquisite base camp. Most ideally it is appropriate for any budget; from the Santa Fe hostel to casita rentals to the most luxurious lodging imaginable at the Inn at Loretto. And on top of it all, everything is still made of adobe. Aesthetics matter here.

In addition, much of the state is devoted to the agriculture of chilis alone, never mind pecans and piñon nuts (didn’t you always wonder where those came from?). 

Santa Fe is home to one of the most elaborate farmer’s markets. A whole section of town called the "Railyard" is devoted to hosting a wide variety of organic produce, pastries and live entertainment for the whole family.  You’ll also a find great presence of ranchers selling grass fed meats and dairy products.

Conveniently located on one end of the farmer’s market and this newly restored real life railyard is the local Second Street Brewery, serving award-winning cold beer on draft to put out the fire from chili sampling.  

And for the wino tourist in the family, yes, there are dozens of New Mexico vineyards (4 in Santa Fe alone!) with over 400 years of history too! 

When it come to cuisine here in the state capitol, chilis found in this city are not just a tourist tea-towel cliche idea.  It is a way of life. Yes, everywhere you turn, real ristras of vibrant chilis deck the ubiquitous adobe architecture as well breakfast omelets. "Hatch" chili is served with almost everything, to the point that in addition to ordering your meal at any given restaurant you’re invariably asked "red or green" so that you may specify which chili you would prefer.

So, when you decide to go ahead and take on a little New Mexico adventure,  here are three gastronomical dining delights to blow your socks off, I promise!

1. Located at the top of Canyon Road, the prettiest and one of Santa Fe’s oldest city roads bejeweled with world class art galleries, is the Spanish Restaurant and Santa Fe’s oldest cantina: El Farol.  Go there, you won’t be disappointed.

One third of this venerable establishment is elegant dining, one third is the very popular cantina, and one third is outdoor flamenco performance and garden dining. It would have been Don Quixote’s nightclub for sure.

2. Near the base of Canyon Road (I hope you're getting that this is a really small town, even if it is a state capitol) is Kakawa Chocolate House. My favorite here is the white chocolate rose and pistachio truffle, or is it the mescal dark chocolate? Here you can order up chocolate elixirs made from ancient recipes just as the Meso-Americans enjoyed them.  In fact they also often have Thomas Jefferson or Marie Antoinette recipes prepared daily. What!? This means a historic experience beyond your wildest imagination. It also means that if you’re gonna go ancient, chili and chocolate unite in an outrageously stimulating and health beneficial marriage!

3. Ok, last but not least, and a lil’ bit out of town but so worth the 10 scenic minute drive, is the Tesuque Village Market.  Not what it sounds like. Again, I’m asking you to trust me, it's mostly a local attraction but it's a delicious and what I’d like to call unpretentious road stop that is perfect after a day of skulking around the Bandelier National Monument. Fantastic southwestern cuisine in an authentic old west setting.

So while this is just a start up kit, Santa Fe, NM is an outrageously awesome and affordable vacation destination that really offers any food connoisseur, desert landscape enthusiast, art lover, and American history buff an unparalleled experience.

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