One of my favorite small businesses in Santa Fe is the Kakawa Chocolate House.
This little gem is located on Paseo de Peralta almost directly across from the entrance to Canyon Road. It is housed in a historic adobe building and is a small but pleasant space to hang out in. There is also an outside patio if the weather is fine.
Kakawa is known for their Chocolate Elixir Drinks. These unique drinks are derived from authentic Mezoamerican recipes from the past. These elixirs are based on concoctions from the area that is the birthplace of chocolate.
You will find some elixirs sweet and some bitter but they are all unique and worth a try. They will give you sample tasters so take advantage of that to experience the different tastes available.
I love to visit Kagawa after a meal and sit and relax with an after dinner elixir. My favorite is the Modern Mexican which contains cinnamon.
In addition to elixirs, Kagawa also offers a large selection of chocolate treats and also ice creams and shakes.
Kagawa also offer a nice souvenir T shirt in a lovely chocolate brown that you may want to pick up to take back with you.
I think the very best souvenir from your trip to Santa Fe is to buy a nice piece of jewelry. Santa Fe is known for it’s unique Southwestern style and a big part of the Southwestern style is silver and turquoise jewelry. The Native Americans have a long tradition of making turquoise and silver jewelry. There were turquoise mines located just south of Santa Fe and the Native tribes traded and sold silver and turquoise jewelry for hundreds of years.
Native American or Southwestern style jewelry is very popular in Santa Fe and it is available in many shops around town. I recommend buying from the Native American vendors located at the Palace of the Governors directly on the plaza. If you buy from them you are assured to be buying from an authentic Native American artist instead of buying from one of the plaza shops which is probably owned by a rich Arab.
Only verified artists from local Native American tribes are allowed to sell at the Palace of the Governors. The person sitting with their goods on the blanket in front of them is usually the artist who made the displayed wares.
Part of the fun in purchasing jewelry from the vendors on the plaza is choosing your piece from the many, many, types and styles of jewelry available. You can talk to the actual artist and you will remember your conversation and purchase long after you have returned home.
I think a silver and turquoise bracelet is the quintessential Santa Fe souvenir and it is a purchase you will enjoy for years to come. Or, it is a gift that most would enjoy receiving. And you can be proud to support Santa Fe’s local Native American artists.
Northern New Mexico is renown for its rugged beauty. Northern New Mexico is where the Rocky Mountains end, and the land is indeed spectacular. There are many scenic roads to drive but, my favorite is to drive to Taos from Santa Fe and take the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway Loop from Taos. This scenic byway road is an 83 mile loop around Mt. Wheeler, (the tallest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet.). For me, this is the ultimate New Mexico drive. This loop drive circles through the mountains and showcases outstanding scenery the whole way. After driving this route, you will have had an excellent sample of the beauty of the valleys, national forests, mesas and mountains of Northern New Mexico.
The first part of this day trip is to drive to Taos from Santa Fe. This road is already a must drive for any visitor as it is a dramatic route that may make you feel like you’re in an old western movie. You will see the famous Rio Grande river as you approach Taos from Santa Fe. Once you are in Taos, the Enchanted Circle drive can be driven clockwise or counterclockwise. I prefer the views when driving clockwise and this is what I recommend although either way is gorgeous. From Taos you will head north on 522 to the town of Questa.
At Questa you will take 38 to the Red River ski area and drive up into the rugged mountains.
You will pass through Red River, a wooded ski resort. Following 38 past Red River will lead you to Bobcat Pass at 9820 feet on your way to Eagles Nest.
At Eagles Nest take 64 to Angel Fire and then continue back to Taos.
Finally, once you return to Taos, I suggest you stop at 5 Star Burgers for the best burger you’ll ever have. Yes, they are so good, it may be the highlight of your day even after a lovely drive through the mountains. A meal at 5 Star is the perfect end to a perfect day trip and you will be pleasantly full for the return drive back to Santa Fe.
5 Star burgers are something special but, the seasoned fries are great too and they give you multiple dipping sauces such as green chile mayo, red chile ranch, ketchup and maple cream. Nom Nom!
A drive to Taos and then taking the circle drive through the mountains on the Enchanted Circle scenic byway with a stop at 5 Star Burger in Taos is my favorite day trip from Santa Fe. Try it, and it may become yours too.
The green chile cheeseburger is an iconic food item in Santa Fe. Practically any food place in town will offer their own version of this classic Santa Fe burger. Spicy, hot, green chile gives burgers a wonderful kick that most people love.
But which green chile cheeseburger is the best? Every year there is a green chile cheeseburger smack down to decide the best green chile cheeseburger in Santa Fe. This is a very competitive contest, and this year, a food truck won. Santa Fe has lots of food trucks and many are great spots to pick up good cheap food. One of them, Bang Bite, is known for it’s excellent food, especially burgers. The Bang Bite’s green chile cheeseburger won first place in the 2015 green chile cheeseburger smackdown.
Bang Bite is an orange trailer located in a parking lot at the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta directly across from Kaune’s Market only a few blocks off of the plaza.
Although the Bang Bite menu is mostly burgers and fries, they do have other tasty items available. Their seasoned fries are a great compliment to their burgers and sandwiches. My favorite from Bang Bite is their Grilled Cheese Thing #1 made of cheddar cheese, bacon, ham and Oooh Papi sauce ( a maple and bacon jam).
There are picnic tables in the parking lot but I suggest getting your food to go and walking back the few blocks up Old Santa Fe Trail to The Inn of Loreto. Take a left on Alameda Street and you will find many picnic benches under shady trees. This is where I love to eat my Bang bite goodies, and it is a short walk from the trailer.
Bang Bite is a not to be missed food truck. Be sure to stop by at least once on your Santa Fe trip. You’ll be glad you did!
Why not rent a bicycle and ride around in bike friendly Santa Fe? Santa Fe is a fantastic spot for cyclists. There are bike trails throughout the city and outside of town. If you’re a cyclist, road or mountain bike, there are memorable rides available all over the area. An easy fun ride, even for novices, is to rent a bicycle at Mellow Velo downtown and ride to the village of Tesuque.
Tesuque is a small village a few miles north of Santa Fe. Tesuque has a rural, country feel and the area is heavily treed so it feels like a different get away even though it is so close to town. The road to Tesuque from the plaza is Bishop’s Lodge Road and it is a scenic drive through rolling hills into Tesuque. It is approximately 6.3 miles from the plaza to Tesuque and it is an easy and scenic ride , but there is also a worthwhile destination in Tesuque, the Tesuque Village Market.
The Tesuque Village Market is one of the few businesses in tiny Tesuque. It is a popular stop because it is the only stop in Tesuque, but also because it is unique and a special place. I love the feel of the Market. Tesuque Village Market has a cool vibe and it is a spot you will want to hang out for awhile. The market reminds me of an old country general store and there is also a splendid cafe for eats.
I prefer to eat out on the covered porch. It is a pleasant place to linger.
Mellow Velo is located on Marcy Street right next to the plaza and they rent mountain bikes or road bikes ideal for taking a ride into Tesuque and stopping at Tesuque Village Market for lunch. Tesuque village Market has a varied menu and you’re sure to find something tasty. Be sure to save room for desert because inside the store they sell delicious pies, cakes, and pastries which are not to be missed. In fact, it is worth coming just for deserts, they’re that good, and the place is so interesting.
You might find that one of the highlights of your trip to Santa Fe was a short bike ride north of town to funky Tesuque Village Market.
Ever wanted to climb a mountain? There’s an easily accessible 9,121 foot mountain that you can hike up right in the foothills of the city of Santa Fe. It is located behind St. John’s College and the trail head starts right from a parking lot at the school.
Trail head parking is at the first parking lot on your left as you turn into the entrance of the college.
This video shows you the view from the top of Mt. Atalaya looking down on the City of Santa Fe 2000 feet below.
This video depicts scenes all along the trail and gives you a good idea of trail scenery.
More information on this fun trail can be found at http://www.backpacker.com/trips/new-mexico/santa-fe/santa-fe-nm-atalaya-trail/
The restaurant El Farol has a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Santa Fe. It is the oldest bar and restaurant in Santa Fe as it’s been providing a welcome light to visitors along Canyon Road since the mid 1800’s. Canyon road was then a dirt trail into town and it was then a saloon called the Cantina de Canyon.
Of course, nowadays Canyon Road is one of the must see streets in Santa Fe as it features one of the country’s largest collections of fine art galleries. Most visitors to Santa Fe will enjoy strolling along Canyon road going from gallery to gallery. Don’t miss your chance to at the very least stop in El Farol for a drink. El Farol is my favorite bar in town. You’ll love the historic wooden floors that creak as you walk on them.
El Farol is a Spanish restaurant that specializes in tapas. In addition to the excellent food, El Farol has nightly entertainment. For over thirty years they have featured live music every night. The acts are eclectic and you never know what you will get. At various times of the year Flamenco dancers are featured and you can count yourself lucky to see these can’t miss shows.
I recommend the seafood paella which although in land locked Santa Fe is always excellent.
Reservations are a must for dinner as El Farol is extremely popular with both visitors and locals.
Since 1983, La Choza restaurant has served authentic New Mexican food in an old adobe former ranch barracks building in the Railyard area of Santa Fe.
La Choza tied for first place as best red chile in town according to the Santa Fe Reporter’s Best of Santa Fe 2015 issue. It is tied with it’s sister restaurant, The Shed, because they both use the same homemade red chile recipe.
I love the ground beef stuffed sopapilla covered with red chile, of course. It is similar to a burrito but the light, flaky, sopapilla tastes better than a flour tortilla. The tasty sopapilla combined with the delicious red chile make this an outstanding dish.
La Chosa has an excellent bar located inside the historic adobe.
Whenever possible, I always recommend eating outdoors in Santa Fe to take advantage of the lovely weather. La Chosa has a shaded patio that makes for a very pleasant meal. One of the shade trees is an apple tree which is loaded with fruit in the summer. The Rail Runner train runs directly adjacent to the patio but I found it more charming than annoying.
La Chosa is always busy, so reservations are highly recommended. I recommend Uber to drop you off at the door as parking is inadequate and crowded.
A T shirt makes a nice Santa Fe souvenir gift for yourself or a friend. My favorite souvenir T shirt is the Harry’s Roadhouse Logo T shirt.
There are many restaurants in town that sell cool tees that make great souvenirs and you should keep an eye out for them as you eat around town, but I think the best one is from Harry’s Roadhouse.
Harry’s Roadhouse is also a wonderful place to eat. It is located outside of town on the Old Las Vegas Highway but the parking lot is stuffed no matter what time of day it is even though it’s not convenient to get to. Harry’s Roadhouse is a Santa Fe institution and much beloved.
Harry’s Roadhouse is open for breakfast lunch or dinner. I especially like the Roadhouse waffle, a blue corn meal waffle filled with applewood smoked bacon and topped by sliced bananas.
Perched above the city of Santa Fe lies the former location of Fort Marcy on a hill that is now occupied by a giant cross called the Cross of the Martyrs
.From this high vantage point there is a 360 degree view of the mountains and the entire city of Santa Fe below. It is a spectacular place to see a sunset and even to have a picnic.
After sunset it is good place to linger for the spectacular city light view and the stars at night.
To get to the Cross of the Martyrs, take Paseo de Peralta ( the loop road around the plaza) and turn north or away from the plaza onto Otero street, then right on Kearney street and up the hill to the top of the street to take a right at the entrance to the Cross of the Martyrs parking lot.
It is located only about 5 blocks from the plaza and is also accessible from Passeo de Peralta street via a long winding path. But unless you’ve got the lungs for it, I recommend coming in from the parking lot.