New Mexico’s capital is the city of Santa Fe. It’s renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hotbed. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, it has at its heart the traditional Plaza, and you can still feel the old-world influence today. It’s a true melting pot of colonialism and Native American culture. Santa Fe is the quintessential American Southwest city and it’s such a vibe. From the unique food, native art, and breathtaking landscapes, exploring Santa Fe and neighboring Taos is a must!
Growing up, my family would always road trip up to Colorado from Texas. Santa Fe is just about the half-way mark from Dallas, so we found ourselves pulling to Santa Fe for dinner at La Casa Sena and staying at the Inn on the Almeda for years! I hadn’t been back to Santa Fe in 15 years and I was so excited to get to re-explore the city again! The southwest comfort food that the city is known for is spicy and eclectic. It’s filled with local and traditional ingredients like blue corn, beans, or a Pozole. Their art scene spans traditional Native American to modern contemporary and everything in-between! We also explored the iconic town of Taos, about an hour and a half north of Santa Fe and so worth the trek if you can squeeze it into your trip!
I do want to note the state & local COVID-19 regulations and conditions while we were there. The state’s mandatory 2-week quarantine ended right before we arrived in New Mexico. Most restaurants had just re-opened limited indoor dining and had outdoor seating. Unfortunately, many shops and restaurants were still temporarily closed during this trip. I hope many businesses in Santa Fe and Taos are able to bounce back in the coming months. Part of my intention of putting out this guide during a pandemic is to encourage safe & responsible travel to re-energize cities or towns that are reliant on tourism to support the local economy. I’ve put a * by all my favorites in the list!
Taos Packing List:
- *Casa Sena [temporarily closed] – Located in the heart of Old Santa Fe, in the historic Sena Plaza, this restaurant is serving innovative Mediterranean cuisine, an award-winning wine list, and a spectacular and inviting outdoor patio, La Casa Sena is one of Santa Fe’s most popular restaurants!
- *The Shed – Local go-to for classic Southwestern fare housed in a circa-1692 hacienda with a cantina-style bar. Get their blue corn chicken enchiladas and corn chowder! They’ve also got a great selection of margaritas!
- Blue Heron (at Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort) – They embrace the idea that food is a potent elixir for the body and
mind. The restaurant works closely with local farmers to source seasonally available herbs, fruits, and vegetables
to create a selection of vibrant and flavorful dishes.
- Tia Sophia’s – This no-frills, diner-style eatery serving regional southwest favorites, breakfast specials & famously hot chile. Get the breakfast burrito!
- La Choza– Casual eatery with colorful decor features tacos, burritos & more with a separate vegetarian menu. best tacos in town!
- La Plazuela – Picturesque garden-like restaurant in La Fonda Hotel serving sophisticated New Mexican cooking.
- Plaza Cafe – Retro spot for classic diner fare along with Southwestern comfort food in a family-friendly setting. I had some of the best fish tacos here! Their pumpkin pozole is amazing but is seasonal!
- *Pasquales [temporarily closed] – Mexican fare from local & organic ingredients along with a community table in a historic adobe.
- Casa Chimayo – A selection of traditional Mexican dishes served in a vibrant, casual environment. Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives! A charming restaurant located just three blocks from the Plaza. Try our DDD Blue Corn Enchiladas, or our special handmade Chile Rellenos or the New Mexico lamb!
- Izanami Restaurant – Upscale izakaya at Ten Thousand Waves offering Japanese bar bites, artisanal sake & craft beer.
- *The Dragon Room – Trees grow through the room of this colorful fixture featuring American eats & margaritas.
- Paper Dosa – Stylish, casual place with a warm, artful vibe offering select South Indian meals, plus wine & beer.
- Sezón – Elevated Latin American cuisine & specialty cocktails served in a dimly lit, Mexican-themed space.
- Henry and the Fish
- The Burger Stand – Gourmet burger spot serving meat & veggie patties, plus draft beers in a comfy setting with a patio.
- La Boca [temporarily closed] – Spanish small plates are paired with Mediterranean & South American wines at this refined venue.
- Back Road Pizza – Family-friendly pizzeria features cornmeal crust pizzas with gourmet toppings & vintage video games.
- Tortilla Flats – Restaurant with New Mexican flair is known for pancakes, quesadillas & brisket, plus veggie options.
- *Coyote Café & Cantina– Elegant eatery featuring local cuisine with Southwestern flair, cocktails & a rooftop bar. They’ve got some of the best margaritas in town on their rooftop!
- Radish & Rye – Intimate, refined locale featuring locally sourced New American plates & a wide bourbon selection.
- *The Belltower Bar – La Fonda hotel’s 5th-floor outdoor bar, with margaritas, light fare & views of the city & mountains!
- San Marcos cafe & Feed Store (located 25-minutes outside of Santa Fe) -Café featuring home-cooked specialties, New Mexico favorites, and Cinnamon Rolls. The Feed Store offers pet, horse, and bird feed as well as hardware and building supplies.
- Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen – Casual, circa-1950 spot for homestyle Mexican food features over 100 varieties of margaritas!
- Tomasita’s – Lively go-to for enchiladas, sopapillas, flautas & more Southwestern favorites amid basic decor. Don’t forget the sopapillas!
- *Geronimo – Eclectic New American fare served amid elegant, minimalist decor in a circa-1756 adobe home.
- 35° North Coffee – Trendy, storefront space roasting java in-house, plus espresso, baked goods & creative sandwiches.
- *Chocolate Maven ~ Relaxed eatery featuring specialty coffee drinks alongside pastries, hearty entrees & high tea.
- Iconik Coffee – Hip cafe in a lofty, industrial space with a roomy back patio serving espresso drinks & light fare.
- Cafe des Artistes – Cute little coffee shop offering
- Opuntia Cafe – New Mexico’s favorite cafe and gathering place for specialty teas, seasonal fresh food, and unique succulents, plants, and home goods.
- Dolina Bakery & Cafe – Modern, airy option for house-baked goods & upmarket breakfast & brunch in cheery surrounds.
- *Chainé Gourmet Cookies – Specialty cookie shop that has some pretty insane cookies & macaroons. They’re serving up
- Shalako Indian Store (inside a mall on the main plaza) – This store is a wonderful treasure box, full of turquoise and silver. They’ve got beautiful vintage southwest jewelry, belts, décor, and the owner was amazing and so lovely to work with – she knows her stuff!
- Shiprock – Historic & contemporary Native American artworks and mid-century modern furniture and antiques!
- Rainbow Man – Open since 1945 The Rainbow Man is the Leading store in authentic Native American and Hispanic crafts and kachina dolls.
- Santa Fe Hat Co.
- Lucchese – Retailer selling high-end Western boots for men & women, plus other leather shoes & accessories.
- Meow Wolf [temporarily closed] – Unique & immersive art installations with multimedia elements & a mysterious narrative throughout.
- *Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is dedicated to the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe, her life, American modernism, and public engagement.
- Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort – Health-centric spa resort with subtly elegant rooms & cottages, plus a pool, yoga & meditation.
- Farmer’s Market
- *Tesuque Village Market (10 minutes from Santa Fe) – Funky cafe with a varied, eclectic menu centered on New Mexican fare, plus a general store & bakery.
- Ten Thousand Waves – Set on 20 wooded acres, this upmarket, Japanese-themed spa hotel is 1.5 miles from Hyde Memorial State Park and 4.1 miles from downtown Santa Fe. Warmly decorated, individually decorated rooms and suites come with fridges or minifridges. All offer patios, balconies, decks, or courtyards; some have shoji screens, fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, and/or full kitchens.
- Gruet Winery – Founded in 1984, Gruet Winery specializes in Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines. Family-owned and run, the New Mexico-based winery produces Pinot. The largest winery and the only t’s the only state wine that is distributed outside of the state.The tasting room in the historic Hotel St Francis!
- Inn on the Alameda – This upscale, pueblo-style inn is a block from the galleries on Canyon Road, a 4-block walk from Santa Fe Plaza, and 13 minutes’ walk from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Complimentary perks include parking, shuttle service, and a breakfast buffet, as well as a wine-and-cheese reception. There’s a bar and lounge serving light fare, and the adobe compound has gardens and 2 hot tubs.
- El Ray Court – Set along the original Route 66, this quaint hotel built-in 1936 is 2.7 miles from the landmark Santa Fe Plaza. The uniquely decorated, southwestern-style rooms feature local artwork and exposed-beam ceilings and offer minifridges. A homey lodge offers a full kitchen and a glass-enclosed porch.
- La Fonda on the Plaza– 4-star hotel on the Plaza – their bar has great margaritas!
- Inn & Spa at Loretto – With classic architecture inspired by Taos Pueblo, this high-end hotel next to historic Loretto Chapel is 2 blocks from Santa Fe Plaza and 3 blocks from the galleries on Canyon Road.
- Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi – Featuring classic adobe design, this chic, upscale hotel is a block from the lively Santa Fe Plaza and 3 blocks from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Blending contemporary decor with traditional details such as Native American textiles, the sleek rooms come with fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and free WiFi.
An hour and a half north of Santa Fe sits the magical Taos. Taos is a town in northern New Mexico’s high desert, bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. During the winter months, it’s a popular ski destination at the Taos Valley! It’s known for historic adobe buildings such as Taos Pueblo, a multistory adobe complex inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. A longtime artist colony, Taos also offers many galleries and museums showcasing regional artwork.
- Medley – Wine shop offers a selection of over 500 wines, spirits, and beers.
- *Martyrs Steakhouse – Cocktails, steaks & New Mexican–inspired entrees like fajitas in a cozy, renovated adobe home.
- *Taos Mesa Brewing Tap Room – Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Taos, this brewpub location features fresh brews & artisan cuisine including wood-fired pizza.
- *Farmhouse Cafe & Bakery– Farm-to-table eatery and vegan cafe!
- *A la Cart -Quick, easy-to-eat on-the-go meals inspired by world street food and American classics. Great pit-stop for lunch and great sandwiches!
- Orlando’s – Colorful Mexican eatery with an open kitchen for enchiladas, fish tacos, margaritas & craft beer.
- Taos Cow (located in Arroyo Seco) – Casual choice for breakfast & lunch serving bagels, sandwiches & a rotating selection of ice cream.
- ARCQ – Daily changing menu of locally sourced comfort food in homey surrounds with funky decor.
- Antonio’s – Traditional New Mexican Cuisine as well as delicious authentic Mexican Cuisine. Get the puffy crab tacos! Their margaritas are amazing, too!
- *The Bavarian – Located up Taos Ski Village, they feature refined German dishes that are hearty & heavy. It’s a perfect lunch spot or place to grab a drink after an active day on the ski slopes or the hiking trails!
- *See the Taos Pueblos – Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1 mile north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico. The pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.
- *Take a walk around the Rio Grande Gorge Rim Trail
- Millicent Rogers Museum – This impressive museum has more than a dozen galleries with some 5000 pieces of Native American and Hispanic art, including furniture, weaving, paintings, pottery, and a celebrated collection of Native American jewelry.
- *Ski Taos Valley
- Check out the Harwood Museum of Art [temporariily closed] – the second oldest art museum in New Mexico. Its collections include a wide range of Hispanic works and visual arts from the Taos Society of Artists, Taos Moderns, and contemporary artists.
- Taos Art Museum at Fechin House – The Taos Art Museum is located in the former house of Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, his wife Alexandra, and daughter Eya. The museum’s primary aims are to improve awareness of the works and patronage of Taos artists and to nurture local artistic development.
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Have you ever been to Santa Fe “the City Different” or Taos? I’d love to hear of any hidden gems or shops you came across while there you’ve gotta let me know! Or if you had a favorite tour that you’d recommend, I’d be so interested to hear! I can’t wait to get back.
* This list was compiled before the COVID-19 pandemic. Not all restaurants or destinations might be open due to the pandemic, please make sure before you plan your trip.