Two Brief Stays in Santa Fe

The Cathedral Basiica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

My boyfriend, Steve, and I have managed to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico—an almost six-hour drive from Telluride, Colorado—twice within the past year and a half and we’re already plotting our next trip. (That one will surely include exploring the ski mountain.) Each trip was short—only two nights a piece—and we didn’t even step foot in one of Santa Fe’s amazing museums, but still, we felt far from cheated. For us, it has been enough to just chill and breathe in the heartwarming, southwestern ambiance for which this town is known. Just like going to Paris and whiling away time in a corner café instead of scouring the Louvre, in Santa Fe during both stays we just strolled around and admired the beauty of this magnificent city, the oldest incorporated state capital within the United States.

Steve and Me in the Gardens of La Posada de Santa Fe

Steve and Me in the Gardens of La Posada de Santa Fe

Although both of us had been to New Mexico numerous times before, we had never been here together. We visited first in the fall and now this recent time in the spring, two seasons where we’re convinced the light is extra magical. How delightful it was to soak up this sun-baked land and share in our awe of its food, architecture and color together. The abundance of earth-toned hues that characterize everything from the adobe dwellings to the chilies on our plates enlivened our senses at every turn. How stimulating it feels to experience a land inhabited with culturally diverse people—primarily those of Native American and Spanish descent—instead of those of predominantly Anglo origins the likes of which we see in Colorado.

On our first trip, we arrived around midnight at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, one of the most historic properties of this centuries-old city. After declaring that we were famished, the night auditor prepared a large, wooden tray filled with a basket of chips and the freshest guacamole and salsa I had tasted in ages. We relaxed into the leather couch within our cozy, adobe interior, opened a bottle of chardonnay and toasted our arrival in this already enchanting place. Indeed, it felt like we had just stepped into a new land—it could almost have been a different country in fact.

One of the Suites at La Posada

One of the Suites at La Posada

La Posada's Pool

La Posada’s Pool

The Main House of La Posada:  A Great Place for Drinks

The Main House of La Posada de Santa Fe: A Great Place for Drinks

La Posada Art

La Posada Art

Fuego Restaurant

Fuego Restaurant

Despite the excitement of being here, we slept in the next morning and showed up at Fuego, La Posada’s restaurant, at the end of breakfast service. They willingly obliged us  bleary-eyed travelers by serving up a glorious mid-morning banquet replete with cooked- to-order omelets, platefuls of bacon, breakfast sausages and ham, a basket of assorted breads, bagels and pastries and a bowl of fresh fruit slices. I even started with a small bowl of oatmeal topped with warm milk and brown sugar. We enjoyed our first thick spoonfuls of green chili, the flavorful and zesty “sauce,” so synonymous with southwestern cuisine, made from Hatch green chilies, that you smother on everything from eggs to cheese fries,. Since I was in an over indulgent mood, I went for “Christmas” and spooned some of the red chili sauce over my omelet as well. We gorged on all within the Spanish-inspired decor of this stunning restaurant amid paintings awash with brilliant landscapes, native people and Georgia O’Keefe-like bright flowers. An art hotel extraordinaire, all the museum-quality works throughout the common areas of La Posada are also for sale. The service, like the food, was impeccable.

Courtyard Shopping Displays

Courtyard Shopping Displays

Western/Mexicali Jamboree

Western/Mexicali Jamboree

Iconic Crosses for Sale

Iconic Crosses for Sale

What we thought was going to be a post-breakfast stroll around the Santa Fe Plaza—the National Historic Landmark and epicenter—of the multi-cultural scene of Santa Fe, turned into almost three hours of poking about, checking out the shops of this popular tourist destination. Housed within old dwellings with walls as thick as three feet, here you find an abundance of goods from low- to high-end, most of which reflect the spirit of the Southwest. From Native American arts, to old western photographs, to santos (the religious icons typical of New Mexican art), to books, cards, music, contemporary art and more, Santa Fe showcases a fiesta of goods from all sorts of eclectic emporiums, each a delight to explore.

Steve and Me on the Plaza in Santa Fe

Steve and Me on the Plaza in Santa Fe

The Courtyard Garden of Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe

The Tranquil Courtyard Garden of Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe

Last weekend we landed at the lovely Fairmont Heritage Place El Corazon de Santa Fe, located just three blocks from the town’s historic plaza.  I suspected right off that these luxury residences—with superior service and attention from the staff—were a rarity in Santa Fe. From the moment we crossed the threshold of our grand, hacienda-styled place of lodging, we felt one step closer to becoming true Santa Feans. Our luxurious accommodations—replete with full kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms and baths and a patio—made us feel as though we had arrived in our own well-appointed adobe home.

We illuminated our kiva fireplace, made some tea, sunk into the large, comfy couch and began plotting our short stay. I perused the list of restaurants with whom the Fairmont Heritage Place has a partnership, a variety of eating establishments serving everything from traditional New Mexican to Italian to sushi and more. They also have a relationship with the Santa Fe School of Cooking, Food Tour New Mexico and the aforementioned La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa (for both the restaurant and spa). Varying discounts are offered to Fairmont Heritage Place guests and owners at all of these establishments.

One of the Many Grand Livingroom/Diningroom Layouts at the Santa Fe Fairmont

One of the Many Grand Livingroom/Diningroom Layouts at the Santa Fe Fairmont

Soaking Up the Santa Fe Lifestyle at Fairmont Heritage Place

Soaking Up the Santa Fe Lifestyle at Fairmont Heritage Place

Zee Bathroom

Zee Bathroom

The Fairmont Santa Fe by Night

The Fairmont Santa Fe by Night

Home Sweet Home at the Fairmont in Santa Fe

Home Sweet Home at the Fairmont in Santa Fe

“How about we plan to eat in tomorrow night?” I asked Steve. “We could order takeout and bring it back here. Maybe even go to Trader Joe’s.”

“We can do that,” Steve said as he strummed on his guitar.

“It’s so nice, I just want to maximize our time together here, right here, just you and me,” I added.

We did it up right and felt so content in our handsome digs that we didn’t even venture out for breakfast. Instead we enjoyed lots of tea, fruit, yogurt and breakfast pastries that we’d rounded up in the neighborhood. And yes, we had snacks and dessert here, too, although we passed on the takeout.

What a treat it was to feel so at home, so much less of a tourist and more like a New Mexican.

Regardless of where you stay, I think Santa Fe has a way of doing that to most people. Its warmth, color and charm endear you. The spirit of its people touches your heart. And its food warms your body and soul like a pignon fire on a blustery day.

Sweet Santa Fe, you are most certainly one of America’s most treasured cities. I’ll have to visit you more often. Maybe I’ll even visit your magnificent museums next time.

Shops On or Near Santa Fe Plaza

The Rainbow Man, 107 E. Palace Avenue; this colorful emporium has been featuring American Indian art, vintage Native American and Mexican jewelry, Hispanic collectibles, Navajo folk Art and historic photographs since 1945.

New Mexico History Museum Shop, palace of the Governors; shop here for a pueblo-sized selection of regional goods and take a little tour in their museum as well. (We actually did hit this one.)

Café Pasqual’s Gallery, 121 Don Gaspar Avenue; next door and upstairs from the restaurant of the same name you’ll find handsome and functional Apache mica clay cook pots.

Steve and Me Dining at Café Pasqual's

Steve and Me Dining at Café Pasqual’s

Tortilla Soup at the Plaza Café

Tortilla Soup at The Plaza Café

Restaurants On or Near Santa Fe Plaza

Fuego Restaurant at La Posada de Santa Fe, 330 East Palace Avenue; come to this AAA Four Diamond restaurant for your splurge night or breakfast! Beautifully presented global Latin and Southwestern cuisine will woo you within a stunning decor surrounded by artwork and other distinguished refinements.

Café Pasqual’s, 121 Don Gaspar Avenue; stop into this brightly-colored restaurant for reasonably-priced fresh and delicious New Mexican cuisine. A Santa Fe staple.

The Plaza Café, 54 Lincoln Avenue; a landmark, classic diner where all the world comes to revel in a fun ambiance and traditional New Mexican and American food.

Casa Chimayo Restaurante, 409 W. Water Street; another local favorite for New Mexican food, come here for lunch or dinner to revel in fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos and such. At brunch on Sundays, you can revel in Huevos Rancheros and blue corn pinon pancakes in addition to other New Mexican specialties.

Swiss Bakery Pastries and Bistro, 401 S. Guadalupe Street; pick up sweet and savory treats or belly up to the bar for a glass of wine and more bistrot-like fare at this large, pleasant establishment.

The Railyard District

The new, happening area of this old town, come to The Railyard District to stroll, shop or dine. It’s a bit of hike from the Santa Fe Plaza, so hop on a bike or other transport to explore all that this area has to offer. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are located here, too, so you might want to take your car. (These stores are even more appreciated by people from small, mountain towns.)

Nachos and Grilled Jalapeños at Tiny's

Nachos and Grilled Jalapeños at Tiny’s

The Railyard District Restaurants

Backstreet Bistro, 513 Camino de los Marquez; enjoy delicious homemade soups and more in this airy, loft-like space.

Tiny’s Restaurant & Lounge, 1015 Pen Road; enjoy lunch, apps, dinner, drinks and dancing at this classic establishment from the fifties. Here you’re sure to have an authentic New Mexican experience among the locals.

Sensuous Shopping at Body of Santa Fe

Sensuous Shopping at Body of Santa Fe

The Railyard District Highlight

Body of Santa Fe, 333 Cordova Road; a center of health and well-being offering classes, treatments and more. Certainly the hub of the Railyard District, Body is the place to go for everything from massage to shopping to dining to even writers’ workshops. I enjoyed a massage here and the whole experience from the moment I walked through the door to the end of the treatment left me feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and more whole. With an emphasis on natural fibers, regional jewelry, sustainable goods and raw elements in various forms, the look of the wares here speak distinctly of Santa Fe. Their skincare products—many of which are used in their facials—are also of the finest quality as is the selection of books and other interesting gift ideas sold in this large space. You can fuel yourself on tasty organic food and drink morning, noon and night in the Body Café, all the creative vision of owner and founder Lorin Parrish. Body of Santa Fe is a must.

Santa Fe Sunset at La Posada

Santa Fe Sunset at La Posada

 

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