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Find True North in Santa Fe

Find True North in Santa Fe

The architecture and aesthetic of New Mexico’s capital city is so iconic that Santa Fe’s very name is used as a shortcut to describe a visual style.

Find True North in Santa Fe


The architecture and aesthetic of New Mexico’s capital city is so iconic that Santa Fe’s very name is used as a shortcut to describe a visual style. From Georgia O’Keeffe’s imagery of Rancho de Taos, animal skulls and Jimson weed to the historic adobe cityscape, Santa Fe offers entertainment, sustenance and eye candy for travelers of all sorts.

It’s impossible to write about Santa Fe without touching on the city’s vast museum landscape. From Museum Hill (710 Camino Lejo)  which boasts international folk art, Spanish Colonial folk art and Native American art at Wheelright Museum (704 Camino Lejo)  to Downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (108 Cathedral Pl.), Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (217 Johnson St.) and SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo De Peralta), there’s more art and varieties of it in Santa Fe than you can shake a periwinkle coyote at.

Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf

Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf

From classic early American and Native American art to thoroughly postmodern art collective Meow Wolf (1352 Rufina Cir.)whose grand opening happens March 17th  and SITE Santa Fe, there’s bound to be an exhibit or installation that’ll catch your breath. Even compared to Albuquerque, Santa Fe’s extra 1,187 feet of elevation means the air is thinner. Fun fact: Athletes visit Santa Fe to train at a higher elevation.

For those seeking local flavor, Santa Fe’s dining scene runs the gamut. From haute cuisine to the Five & Dime General Store’s storied Frito Pie (58 E. San Francisco St.), mouthwatering foodstuffs abound. If you’re in the market for fine dining, you can’t go wrong at Southwestern, minimalist Santacafé (231 Washington Ave.); farm-inspired eatery and bourbon bar Radish & Rye (548 Agua Fria St., reviewed this issue); New American meets New Mexican at Coyote Cafe (132 W. Water St.); and Canyon Road standard The Compound (653 Canyon Rd.).

The Shed (113 E. Palace Ave.) is a James Beard Award-winning experience that’s still relaxed enough to host a mini-family reunion to introduce far-flung relatives to the wonders of green (and red) chile. The Taos/Northern New Mexico segment of the 7th Annual New Mexico Restaurant Week goes on through Sunday, February 28th; visit nmrestaurantweek.com for more info. 

Photo courtesy of Kakawa Chocolate House

Photo courtesy of Kakawa Chocolate House

Let us never imagine a world without cocoa and caffeine. Generations of artists have relied on these medicinal substances, and the trend shows no sign of abating. I recommend checking out artsy, breakfast/lunch and cash-only Counter Culture (930 Baca St. #1), old world-inspired ECCO Espresso and Gelato (128 E. Marcy St.), hobnobbing hub Downtown Subscription (376 Garcia St.), congenial Holy Spirit Espresso (225 W. San Francisco St.) and specialty purveyor Iconik Coffee Roasters (1600 Lena St.). For sweets, head to Kakawa Chocolate House (1050 Paseo De Peralta) for hot chocolate; The French Pastry Shop (100 E. San Francisco St., inside La Fonda Hotel) for croissants; Loyal Hound (730 St. Michaels Dr.) for beignets; and Whoo’s Donuts (851 Cerrillos Rd. #B) for those perfect circles.

It’s not hard to find a great meal in Santa Fe, but for a minimal additional investment, you can actually learn how to cook at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (125 N. Guadalupe St.). Classes include traditional nuevomexicano, contemporary Southwestern and regional Mexican, an O’Keeffe course using the renowned artist’s own farm-inspired recipes, and high-altitude baking. Specialized red and green chile classes and workshops on tamales, rellenos, tacos, burritos and salsa could very well enhance your everyday life.

If you dig beer and spirits, check out Santa Fe Brewing Co. (35 Fire Pl.), Draft Station (60 E. San Francisco St.), Blue Corn (133 W. Water St.; 4056 Cerrillos Rd.), Chama River, La Cumbre or Santa Fe Spirits (308 Read St.; 7505 Mallard Way, Unit I). If you’re a fan of live music, visit the Santa Fe Opera (301 Opera Dr.); punk-infused joints Matador (116 W. San Francisco St.) and Evangelo’s (200 W. San Francisco St.); the jazzy boisterous High Note (132 W. Water St.); experimental High Mayhem Emerging Arts (2811 Siler Lane); forward-thinking venues Skylight and Skylab (both at 139 W. San Francisco St.); and Downtown sports bar Boxcar (530 S. Guadalupe St.).

And you needn’t be a George R.R. Martin obsessive although it doesn’t hurt to appreciate the new and improved Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave.). Upcycled fashion mavens should add Art.i.fact (930 Baca St.), HYPERCLASH (926 Baca St.) and Double Take (320 Aztec St.) to their shopping list.

The color palette at the Inn and Spa at Loretto is Instagram-worthy. (Credit: Inn and Spa at Loretto)

Relax at Ten Thousand Waves (3451 Hyde Park Rd.), which offers baths, a spa, food and lodging, or unwind at the Inn and Spa at Loretto (211 Old Santa Fe Trail) — boasting Santa Fe’s only penthouse suite — which offers après-ski packages alongside sumptuous Southwestern luxury. Don’t neglect beholding the miraculous architecture of the Loretto spiral staircase.

Photo courtesy of Roshi Joan Halifax

Get away to Upaya Zen Center (1404 Cerro Gordo Rd.) for daily, donation-based zazen meditation, dharma talks, retreats and programs to cultivate a mental framework for compassionate engagement with the world … and yourself. Founded by Roshi Joan Halifax, a Buddhist and Zen priest, anthropologist and end-of-life care pioneer, escape to Upaya to deal with the inescapable nature of suffering and possibility — or the next thing to explore in Santa Fe.

Samantha Anne Carrillo is a situationist, fourth-wave feminist and managing editor at ABQ Free Press. Email her at samantha@freeabq.com.

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.
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Moriah Carty is an Albuquerque local with a heavy sense of wanderlust.