The City Different
The oldest capital in the US.
A mythical adobe haven.
Surrounded by red blush mountains and rusty brown dessert.
Famous for its tri-culturally diverse history (Hispanic, Native American and Spanish).
Housing more artists than any American city its size.
With an extraordinary concentration of PhD’s.
A place of renewal.
“Where the wounded come for healing, and seekers come to find.” NY Times.
And kinda a hoax too!
Not only does Santa Fe look old, there was intentional foresight to make it look old and turn it into the adobe gem we see today. And it was all to bring in the tourism... mission accomplished!
The elders of Santa F, in the beginning of the 20th century, intentionally decided to attract tourist by devising a way to do so with their building code, based on the ancient pueblo adobe style. So just like that, America’s only ancient mud city began to spread in the 20thcentury.
Reason for My Visist
I travelled to Santa Fe this past May to attend the IACP conference. Adding on days before and after to be sure to get some adventuring in they’re too! In very true to me fashion; I tried to pack in as much as possible. So convinced the bf to fly out for 2 of my 5 nights in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe. IACP. Romantic Getaway with the bf. HERE WE COME!!!
Things You Should Know Before Going to Santa Fe
- If you’re planning on staying in the city, there’s really no need for a car! Super walking friendly city. Excellent mass transit system to take you around town too.
- If you do have a car, within 20 minutes you can be in a completely different topography!
- Be prepared to experience summer and winter weather in the same week. It was sunny in town and I drove 20 minutes up the mountain for a hike and it was snowing!
- They take their margaritas seriously! Spaniards brought tequila to Santa Fe more than 400 years ago. Although it’s not birthplace of margaritas, it’s definitely where they matured and the city is proud of it!
- Santa Fe sits on high altitude… so watch those first margaritas!
- Be sure to get your green chile game on! Peppers are a big deal here and the famous hatch chili is specific to the Hatch Valley, in the southern part of the state and considered a regional treasure.
- The Santa Fe Tourism Office is a epic resource.
Drove straight from the airport (in my barely necessary rental car), from Albuquerque to Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese mountain hot springs resort. My back was going out on me and I wanted to feel like a rockstar for the upcoming conference. Booked a massage, enjoyed their hot tubs and an amazing meal. Quite the luxuriously Zen experience. It’s possible to come in just for a soak. And it’s worth it!
Drove to town to finally check into my hotel, El Dorado. Dropped my bags and went out to explore on foot, solo. Stumbled upon a true gem of a cocktail bar, Tonic! With a uniquely amazing, ever-changing cocktail menu. The owner-bartender Winston makes all sorts of his own syrups and shrubs and stocks a lot of very hard-to-find bottles. He shared all sorts of mixology and Santa Fe knowledge with me. I met his sister and some other locals too while sitting at the bar. They have live music on Thurs-Sun. If you’re into craft cocktails, this is a must-go to spot!
I wasn’t technically taking this week off work and began my day with my laptop at Iconic Coffee. Locally owned with a few locations in town, they source their beans internationally and roast them in Santa Fe in an old machine from the 1920’s. Iconik Lupe is housed in a 1920’s-era vintage building next to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.Super tasty and unique breakfast and lunch foods and excellent coffee. Solid, cozy place with character ~ highly recommend.
The afternoon was booked solid with the first IACP workshop of the trip.
The evening consisted of 2 dinners. Sometimes that’s whatcha gotta do when ya wanna try all the restaurants and are only in town a few days…. taking one for the team here so I can provide a more in depth guide :)!
Dinner 1: La Boca. Modern Spanish cuisine in a small European style café. I was with a big group and we tried all sorts of tapas. All I’m going to say is this: I’m spoiled with restaurants in SF. And all I wanna eat during a short visit to New Mexico is New Mexican cuisine.
Dinner 2: Paloma. The IACP Conference had an app where we could all suggest social activities. I suggested a big, fun, group dinner and got 19 takers! Did a bit of research and found out that this spot, and upscale Mexican restaurant with a fun vibe and creative cocktails was the place to go for a group this size. Growing up partly in Mexico City I can be a real brat rating Mexican food…. The rustic-chic space has a fun vibe.
Post my 2 dinners, it was nightcap margarita time at La Fonda Hotel. There was live music and some folks getting rowdy on the dance floor.
I went to bed with a full belly and lots of new friends.
Woke up on Friday and headed back to Iconik for my morning cappuccino and straight to the IACP conference.
I found out via Instagram stories that Rachel and Jake from theFeedFeed were heading to the IACP conference too! Reached out to ask if they wanted to have lunch with me and they said yes!!! #STOKED!!!
Life Lesson: ya don’t get what you don’t ask for! I’d never met either Rachel not Jake and was slightly star struck even asking them for a date but ya gotta just go for it in this so-called game of life!
Lunch spot: The Shed. Finally a New Mexican spot! This local go-to for creative New Mexican cooking and classic Southwestern fare is housed in a circa-1962 hacienda on the Santa Fe Plaza. Family owned and operated for over 50 years, there’s a ton of hype on this place and it’s somewhat of a local legend. I was simply stoked to finally be eating local food! My favorite part about the spot is the sunny quant courtyard with seating. Especially after being indoors all morning in conference, the fresh air and sunshine on my face was such a sweet treat!
My bf came to meet up with us straight from the airport. The 4 of use shared as all sorts of enchiladas and tacos and queso. If your looking for some local food near the plaza with pleasant outdoor seating, this is your spot!
Afternoon was spent back at the conference ending they day with a glass of wine at Herve Wine Bar. A new, massive, posh wine bar quite unlike any other space else I saw in Santa Fe. The owners, from a multi-generational family of winemakers from France, have been making wine in the New Mexico since the 1980’s and produce multiple labels. Aspiring to put New Mexican wine on the map with this spot that includes a relaxing luxurious lounge, wine-tasting bar, dining room, outdoor patio, and retail area all in one. The space is impressive and worth a peak inside and if you’re interested in trying some locally grown wine this is your spot!
Then it was back to the IACP workshop.
I officially ended the workday watching the sunset at the 5thfloor rooftop bar at La Fonda Hotel. It’s a must to grab watch the sunset from here! The pics below are from when I did just that.
Then it was back to the IACP for a welcome ceremony, back again to La Fonda for a food photography exhibit and a romantic dinner with the bf at Jacobs Table. And just FYI this whole entire time I’m traveling by foot. The city really is that’s walking friendly!
Dinner: Jacob’s Culinary Pub. Elevated New American fare served in an intimate, home-y, romantic, dimly sit, setting with a refined farmhouse feel & eclectic art. It almost felt like we were eating in someone’s home and ended up in the kitchen chatting with Jacob himself. Solid wine list and local, inventive cuisine with international touches.
Woke up on Saturday and headed straight to the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Finally thought I would have a use for my car but it was a false alarm cause the market was only a 15 min walk away from my hotel. I absolutely adore checking out farmers markets when I travel! Gotta see what the local farmers are up to when I visit a new spot!
The Santa Fe farmers market has all sorts of fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies, seasonal product, meat, dairy, spices, and eggs, flowers, baked goods, prepared foods, artisanal condiments and various arts and crafts vendors. Check out the all the peppers and chilies, black garlic and oxtail bone broth!
Pro Tip: leave some extra room in your suitcase to take some goodies from here home!
The day was spent at the IACP conference and the award ceremony that evening, followed by my favorite dinner of the trip and a wild time at Meow Wolf!
Dinner: Eloisa. A very special place and simply EPIC!!! Creative, elevated take on traditional Latin and Southwestern flavors, creating what Chef John Rivera describes as “Modern Southwestern Cuisine.” Unique menu features locally sourced ingredients that explore Latin history and local culture. We had the maize corn custard, pastrami tacos and heirloom white corn tortillas with fresh flowers pressed in them!!! They were the prettiest tortillas I’ve ever seen! We got an amazing tour of the kitchen and the drinks were top notch. It’s pricey but if you’re willing to splurge one night I highly recommend!!!
And then…. 80’s prom dance party and meow Wolf here we come!!!
Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience that I actually have no clue how to describe. I read a few articles about the spot before going and truth be told the more I read the more confused I got on the spot. Moral of the story: ya gotta just go to understand it!!! They sell tickets as a museum and also have events there… We were lucky enough to score this raging 80’s party including a silent 90s disco and rocked out til 2am dancing our tushy’s off, playing a laser harp and exploring all the awesomely weird and funky rooms. If you’re in Santa Fe, Meow Wolf is a must for a fantastically wild experience!
Woke up with the intention of going on early morning hike… but went out the night before without the intention of staying til 2am… and also didn’t wake up that early. Made a game time decision to swap the hike for a big, hearty New Mexican breakfast at Pasqual’s. They use fresh, local, seasonal, organic and naturally raised foods to make all the classic New Mexican classics! The festive fining room is lined with hand-painted Mexican tiles and murals. Have individual and communal tables. Highly rec this spot for local cuisine made with exceptionally clean ingredients.
The IACP conference and the closing party consumed the day.
And I was back to my two-dinners/night schedule that evening.
Dinner #1: Anasazi. Upscale southwestern restaurant that’s part of a boutique hotel with rustically luxurious décor that I loved! Think natural wood combined with leather and handcrafted textiles, paintings, carvings and baskets by local artists. The Chef mixes old world techniques with modern, innovative recipes and artful plating. The menu change seasonally and embraces local ingredients. It was the last dinner with the bf before his flight. The space was absolutely stunning and the food delicious. If you’re looking for a romantic spot this is my rec!
Then I went to meet up with the IACP Bay Area contingent for diner #2.
Dinner #2: Radish & Rye. Farm inspired seasonal cuisine sourced as locally as possible featuring simple and innovative cuisine. I was pretty full by the time I arrived but was stoked to be joining my colleagues. They’re also know for their massive bourbon selection if you’re feeling slightly tequila and margarita overloaded.
The last day of the trip! Woke up solo since the bf had flown out the night before, and ready to get my adventuring on!!! We skipped the hike the day before and nothing was gonna get in my way between the mountains and me this morning! But first… breakfast!
Woke up craving some of my home-cooked food. For real’s though. Eating out so many meals back-to-back was starting to take a toll on how I was feeling. Headed to the Modern General for a late breakfast and it was a godsend! Toasts, bowls, salads, sandwiches, modcakes, juices, smoothies and health shots that celebrate whole grains and healthy, clean food. It’s a café and retail shop all in one that sells a variety of specialty food items and homeware in a minimalist clean space. The food was exactly what I needed. If you need a break from all the southwestern fare or just want to try some really good healthy food I highly rec this spot! I could easily eat here on a very regular basis.
Then onto the mountains!
I drove up Hyde Park Road, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, without an exact destination simply looking to immerse myself in nature and go on a little hike. But when I got out of my car, even though it was sunny in town, it was snowing!!! I was shocked. The pics below are from are from the mountain top.
Got a little hike in then it was onto Canyon Road.
Canyon Road: Thishalf-mile stretch is lined with charming adobe homes turned into fine art galleries. Many highly photographic buildings, sculpture gardens and restaurants in this area. Def swing by!
Next up: Georgia O’Keeffe museum.
Georgia O’Keeffe museum: The museum is dedicated her life, art and legacy. Best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes, it’s a treat to see her work where she spent the last years of her life.
Then it was back to Modern General cause it was that good to pick up some plane food and catch m y flight home.
Places on my List I Wanted to Visit and Didn’t Get To:
- Opuntia Café: half tea house and café, half plant shop
- Honeymoon Brewery: an artisan “hard” alcoholic kombucha maker
- Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery tap room
- La Lecheria – local artisan ice cream maker
Santa Fe was magical. It’s possible to pack in a ton in very little time since the city is so small. IACP was inspiring. Time with the bf was meaningful. By all accounts the trip was a success!
Next adventure… I’m ready for ya!
Have ya enjoyed this post? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below and if you're in New Mexico take a pic and tag it on Instagram with #wavesinthekitchen cause I'd love to see it! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more colorfully delicious food and all sorts of awesome adventures!