Dave's Santa Fe page for visitors
A page of recommendations of places to go and places to eat,
in and around Santa Fe,
oriented to the MUG '98 visitor staying
at the Eldorado Hotel.
There's so much to do and see around here, it's hard to pick just a few
things to recommend.
Here are 10 suggestions for MUG visitors from my personal viewpoint.
- Shidoni Foundry and Gallery
Shidoni is both a bronze sculpture foundry and large (9 acre) sculpture
gallery. If you like modern sculpture, this is a magical place.
I personally enjoy just sitting in the shade of a large sculpture or
fountain, reading. But if you're interested in the sculpture-making
process, a tour is available and it's very interesting, especially on
Saturdays when they do a "pour".
North on Bishop's Lodge Road to Tesuque.
- Los Alamos Library
There are two libraries in Los Alamos; the municipal public library, which
is a normal small-city library (I suppose) and the research library at the
LANL, which is a national treasure. It's essentially a comprehensive
collection of everything written about chemistry, physics and engineering.
Some biology and medicine, too (especially radiation and nuclear medicine).
The library was set up in the days of the Manhattan project as a national
priority and there's a lot of stuff there that you can't find elsewhere.
What I find most amazing is the library staff. They really are trained
professionals who know what they're doing way better than a normal mortal.
Want an article from a 1870's German journal? You can spend 15 minutes
figuring out their web-based computer system and find it, or ask one of the
staff and in a couple minutes you're presented with the original plus two
different translations. (This actually happened to me.) Way different than
the usual university library organization. Hey Toto, we're not in Kansas
anymore. Bottom line is that you can get more library research done there
in a few hours than in a week at a big university library.
Badged employees have priority but it's available to the public
until 4:30 pm. There are a few tricks ... e.g., there's an honor system
copier in the stacks that's usually available, you can't get into the
computer system from the outside but public terminals are available in the
library and you can e-mail yourself search results, abstracts, etc. For
more info, ask Norah, she knows all the tricks.
a little less than an hour's beautiful drive north on 285
- The Black Hole
If you're in Los Alamos and you like scientific junk,
check out the Black Hole. The fellow that owns it
is a packrat who must have bid on most of the junk coming out of LANL and
it's basically a scientific equipment junkyard.
Geiger counters, centrifuges, stainless steel tanks,
atom bomb detonator cables, frequency generators, you name it, he's got
a dozen models, all obsolete of course. But cheap.
Also, he's quite a character.
Among other things, he's been in trouble with the Secret Service for
mailing the President a can of Los Alamos' best plutonium ("Hey guys,
it was only relabeled dog food, where's your sense of humor?")
The city of Los Alamos is getting croissantified and giving him a hard
time about his mess, but (like LANL) he's kind of an institution.
up to the Los Alamos Gorge, right on MacArthur about two miles, look
for a rocket-shaped sign marked "Church of Atomic Power"
- Wild Oats Community Market
This is just a grocery store in on St. Francis, but it's oriented to
whole food and it's very Santa Fe. For things like yogurt and grains and
tamari, you can't beat it. They also have a great deli. Most of their
stock is organic, especially good, and more expensive than normal.
The strange thing is that they embrace a lot of alternative stuff, like
Taro card reading and Kirian photography and massage therapy, which is
strange to see in a grocery store. After you've lived in
Santa Fe a few years, it doesn't seem strange at all, which is in itself
kind of strange. Anyway, NPR did interviews there which were broadcast
as an "All Things Considered" show ... the reporter supposedly did the
interviews while getting a massage in the produce section ... and the
place got a certain amount of notoriety. Hah, it must have been a special
set up, everyone knows the massage tables are near the checkout
and diary ...
1090 S. St. Francis, 983-5333
There's a lot of high-end art in Santa Fe and after you've been here
a while you learn to appreciate the workmanship that goes into a genuine
San Il Defonso vase and the uniqueness of a $40000 antique Navajo weaving.
If that interests you, there are literally 100's of specialty galleries
in town who can help you spend the big bucks wisely. But most of us are
more likely to buy a $20 Mexican clay pot or a mass-produced $10 Thai
saddle blanket. Jackalope is the place for that ... their slogan is,
"Folk art by the truckload", and it's a fun place. I'd guess that most
households in Santa Fe have something from there, if only a plant or the
pot it sits in. A great place for souvenirs.
2820 Cerrillos, 471-8539
- Georgia O'Keefe Museum
There are quite a few art museums in Santa Fe, but for the most part,
the art in the galleries is just as good, or better. The new Georgia
O'Keefe Museum is an exception, probably because it's very directed.
They have a large number of (guess what?) O'Keefe's works from throughout
her interesting life and a good film about her. The museum is right
behind the Eldorado hotel so it's very convenient. Much of her work
was done in this area and she had a wonderful vision of the world.
Actually, the best part of the experience is after you leave ... the
mountains, trees, everything ... look a little different, a little
more vibrant or something.
Right behind the Eldorado hotel on Johnson
- Sandia Crest Tram
If you can find 2-3 hours extra on your way from Albuquerque to Santa
Fe, take a ride up to Sandia Crest on the tram. For the record-minded,
it's the worlds longest tram free-span. For everyone else, it's just
amazing. As you climb, you can look down on hawks circling below and
the occasional mule deer or bighorn sheep, over terrain more rugged than
you ever imagined. Great view from the top. This is where intrepid
aviators jump off the cliffs during the National Hang Gliding competitions.
Yikes. There's also ski lifts and a restaurant/lodge. Definitely worth
the time. It's "only" 5000' or so above Albuquerque, but dress warmly.
Tramway exit on I-25, one of the northern Albuquerque exits
The ride from Santa Fe down to Albuquerque on I-25 is nice, but if you
can manage to leave 30 mins earlier, consider taking the Turquoise Trail
instead. It takes you through Madrid, an old mining town and then
around the east side of the Sandias, dropping you off on I-40 just east
of the ABQ airport. It's good two-lane road all the way, a bit mountainous
in places, but a beautiful drive. You might want to leave another hour
or so to explore Madrid itself, a town with an interesting history.
S. on Cerrillos Road, it becomes the Turquoise Trail S of I-25
- 10,000 Waves
This is a Japanese-style resort with about a dozen hot pools of various
sizes, some public, some private, most at least partly outdoors.
It's a very beautiful place a few miles up the road to the Santa Fe
Ski basin. They also offer first rate massages by certified massage
- The Night Sky
One of the natural wonders of this area is the night sky.
The altitude and clarity of the desert air provide near-optimal
astronomical seeing near Santa Fe.
Many of our visitors come from cities and have never seen the Milky Way.
So when the moon's not up, bundle up, find a dark spot, and take a look up.
It's really neat. You don't need any equipment, but if you can bring a
thermos of coffee, a chair and a pair of binoculars, that's even better.
Probably the easiest way to find a dark area with good horizons is to drive
out of town to the north along 285. (Most other directions work too.)
You don't have to go far, e.g., the Opera parking lot is a pretty good
place for being so close. Then let your eyes adjust to the dark; it takes
something like 20 minutes for the full effect, so be patient. Then take
a good look at our neighborhood. The nearest stars will be twinkling,
the bright non-twinkers are planets, spread out across the E-W ecliptic.
If you go with someone who knows the sky (like me), you'll probably get
an earful about nebulosities and spiral arms and constellation names
and such; that can be interesting, but it's not the main point.
This is our corner of the universe; it's where we live, the gestalt of
it is really much more impressive than any of the details.
Santa Fe has a lot of good restaurants and quite a few great ones.
Here are my top-10 favorites:
I can't bring myself to shortlist only 10, so here are some others:
- Horseman's Haven
The best breakfast burrito in the world, no kidding.
A bit out of the way, it's attached to the Texico gas station on the East
side of Cerrillos just south of the Villa Linda Mall.
This is a family-run place, well loved by locals for phenomenal
If you're sensitive to hot chile, get it red (or Christmas, or on the side).
You won't believe it at first, but
just a few doses of "Horseman's green" causes a progression from
chile-shock to to chile-addicted.
6500 Cerrillos, 471-5420
A wonderful place for a nice meal; a creative mix of fine cooking and
New Mexico style. My favorite meal there is roasted garlic/brie appetizer,
lamb chops entree, with Tempranillo Rioja, wow. But they serve a lot of
great stuff from chicken mole to housemade pinon ice cream. It's a
popular place especially for breakfast and dinner;
you'll need reservations for dinner.
121 Don Gaspar, 983-9340
Out of town along 285 (the road towards Los Alamos and Taos), this is a
really good place to chow down New Mexican food with a Mexican leaning.
Wonderful guacamole made to your liking at your table goes great with
chips, salsa and mexican beer (can't recommend the margaritas, though).
Lots of good food, but the "Chile Rellenos de Santa Fe" is especially
great: chile rellenos stuffed with chicken and topped with pipian or
something like it (it's sort of like mole but made from pumpkin seeds).
10 min N of Santa Fe on 285, 1 mile past Camel Rock, 455-7000
- La Tertulia
This is probably the most traditional restaurant in town, but it's not stuffy.
The building was previously a convent and they have a nice lounge filled with
santos, comfortable furniture and religious memorabilia.
Make reservations but get there 15-30 min early to share a pitcher of
margaritas, which are, IMO, the best in town.
Traditional NM dinners are best here: carne adovada, chile rellenos, etc.
Other than in northern NM hispanic homes with children, this is one of the
few places you can get natillas (a very vanilla pudding local to this area).
416 Agua Fria, 988-2769
- Diego's Cafe
Another place with unexpectedly great green chile, Diego's is in the DeVargas
mall close to town. They serve the perfect classic Santa Fe lunch, which
is a bowl of plain green chile with sopapillas and honey. You can add beans
or posole or even meat without hurting it too much, but why? Also a great
place for fried ice cream (but unless you're having an ice cream meal,
get it to share, the portions are huge).
DeVargas Mall, 983-5101
- La Casa Sena
My favorite place for a romantic dinner.
A comfortable historical place with wonderful, unique food and nice decor
(check out the painting collection on the walls).
One of the traditional New Mexican cuisine motifs is game, and La Casa Sena
usually offers several choices like squab, duck and venison.
If you are a trout fan, their "adobe trout" (a trout literally baked into
an brick of adobe) is a must-try.
The adjoining Cantina is a different world altogether, with waitpersons
singing musicals as they work, not my favorite but I guess it takes all
kinds to make a horserace.
125 E. Palace, 988-9232
- El Meson
A relatively new old-Spanish restaurant, specializing in tapas, but also
offers a good selection of normal entrees. The tapas are great and it has
the general feel of a Spanish tapas bar, very heterogenous crowd, snacking
and talking over wine, coffee, and hot chocolate
(which BTW is very rich, very different).
They keep New Mexican, rather than Spanish, hours here,
i.e., they close about the time a real Spanish tapas place gets going.
on Washington between Marcy and PDP
- La Choza
Another good restaurant for New Mexican food, just outside downtown area
but still within easy walking distance if you know where you're going.
The same family owns and runs The Shed right downtown.
For some reason (IMO) La Choza is better in all respects except
905 Alaird, 982-0909
- Atalaya Restaurant & Bakery
A relatively recent restaurant, but a keeper. More "world food" than
Santa Fe cuisine, it's a smallish, open, friendly, busy place. Good food,
good ambiance. They usually offer something Cajun and something French and
always something seasonal.
Great mocha milkshake and also high-end baked goods (they have a wonderful
version of something like the chocolate heart attack).
320 S Guadalupe St, 982-2709
- Downtown Subscription
This isn't a restaurant and the pastry they serve isn't even all that good
anymore. It's a magazine and coffee shop. But it's more than that somehow,
a social center in my old neighborhood, and for some it's a way of life.
Fantastic selection of journals, from serious counter-intelligence reviews
to poetry to J. Irreproducible Results along with international newspapers.
Great discussions abound. Only a corpse couldn't find something interesting
there. For more information, ask Anthony Nichols,
who's more a resident than a patron.
- 2nd St. Brew Pub
A near-town English-style brew pub. Good bitter.
Americanized pub food. Darts.
S on Cerrilos, left on 2nd Street, on the right just before the RR tracks
- Anasazi Restaurant
A quiet, great food place a couple blocks from the hotel.
One of Dawn's favorites.
113 Washington, 988-3236
A righteous NY-style deli run by a Lower-East-side escapee.
420 Catron, 982-8900
- Baja Tacos
New Mexican fast food on Cerrillos, but good!
2621 Cerrillos, 438-7198
- Blue Corn Cafe South
A biggish brew pub.
corner of Rodeo & Cerrillos, 438-1800
- Cafe Oasis
And now for something completely different ... a restaurant owned and run
by a person who is considered by some (e.g., the local medical community)
to be an ambulatory schizophrenic. Kicked out of most of the restaurants
in town, she opened her own. Each room is furnished differently (e.g.,
every dish and piece of cutlery is different, one of the dining rooms
doesn't happen to have any chairs). But the strangest thing is that it's
a pretty good restaurant; good food at reasonable prices and a comfortable
(if unusual) environment and a reasonably good dynamic among the staff.
For that reason, it does pretty well and it's outlasted a lot of other
places. And why not?
526 Gallisteo, 983-9599
- Carlos's Gosp'l Cafe
A favorite local lunch spot tucked away on Lincoln,
serving mostly sandwiches but also known for their Hangover Stew.
125 Lincoln, 983-1841
- Coyote Cafe
This is Mark Miller's restaurant; he's the chef credited with making SW
cuisine internationally famous, sort of Santa Fe's Paul Prudhomme.
IMO, the service is has gotten pretty upitty, it's overpriced, and Miller
doesn't cook there himself very often.
But still, it's legendary and in any other town it would be a wonder.
132 W. Water, 983-1615
- Dave's Not Here
Sort of an ex-hippy joint, now favored by the artsy crowd (e.g., opera
costumers and stage hands) in the summer. Good honest food, locally
famous burgers and fries, great browies and pies.
1115 Hickox, 983-7060
A Mexican buffet place, one of the few successful chain restaurants
in town; good food at good value is the reason. If you want sweet corn
pie, this is the place to get it.
130 Lincoln, 983-9797
- Guadalajara Grill
Great place for barrio-style hispanic cooking, next to a liquor store.
- El Primo
A few blocks away on Guadalupe, unique full-strength, hand-made pizza.
234 N. Guadalupe, 988-2007
- Il Vicino
Immediately next door to Eldorado, good light-crust pizza.
321 San Fransisco, 986-8700
- India Palace
Reasonably good northern Indian food. One of our lunchtime favorites.
227 Don Gaspar, 986-5859
- Le Cafe
An honest French bakery on the corner of OSFT and PDP. Quiche, palmier, etc.
The proprietor is a garrulous character who really knows his pastry.
311 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-7302
- Maria's New Mexican Kitchen
A big bar with good food, famous for their 100's of margaritas (they literally
wrote the book on margarita-making). I'm probably just a contrary geezer,
but I don't like their margaritas much at all, I mean, ugh, lemon juice?
But they've got a large and loyal following.
555 W. Cordova, 983-7929
- The Palace
Good, mostly Northern Italian food at good value in a nice restaurant just
a block from the Eldorado.
A year ago I would have said *great* Northern Italian food,
but that was before the EuroMUG-97 meeting in Verona.
Ah. It's not as great as the real thing but it's close.
They make a fantastic Ceasar salad at the table,
easily the best I've ever eaten.
Good wine list.
In a remodelled bar/bordello; no longer a cowpuncher crowd,
the customers generally go home with the one they came in with,
and there's not too much gambling or gunfighting anymore,
but it's still pretty red and it's still a good value.
142 W. Palace, 982-9893
- The Pinion Grill
Right across the street from the Eldorado, a restaurant specializing in
308 San Francisco, 986-6400
- Plaza Restaurant
A 50's-style diner right on the Plaza with a Greek bent.
It would be easy to mistake this for a period reproduction place,
but I think in this case they just haven't remodelled in 40 years.
on the plaza, 982-1664
- Pranzo's Italian Grill
Another northern Italian place with good food and nice ambiance, notable
for the fact that they serve until 11 pm, which is late for Santa Fe.
Sanbusco Market Center, 984-2645
A nice Japanese restaurant with good food and tatami rooms on the
same block as the Eldorado hotel.
Although overall I like Sakura best, the sushi bar at Shohko-Cafe
(one block NW) is probably better and livier.
321 W. San Fransisco, 983-5353
Another legendary Santa Fe restaurant with widely-copied dishes,
famous for melding Asian and New Mexican cuisines.
"Where East meets Southwest."
Very beautiful nouveau food presentation, artistic and expensive,
kind of a power broker / movie star hangout in one of the "other" Santa Fe
231 Washington, 984-1788
A really good breakfast/brunch place with homemade everything.
Unfortunately, it appeared on the New York Times
"10 Best Breakfasts in America" list and
it's been swamped by tourists for the last few years.
1203 Cerrillos, 988-1362
- The Shed
A popular lunch spot on E. Palace, a block from the Plaza.
Designed by hobbits, I think.
They serve a great example of the "other" kind of green chile,
the true green chile stew with potatoes and other stuff in it.
113-1/2 E. Palace, 982-9030
A northern New Mexican high-volume food factory in the old Santa Fe
railroad station. Good food, though, and very popular with locals.
554 Juanita, 983-5721
- Tony's Pizzeria
A genuine New York style Italian joint.
Best pizza in town, also great pasta, veal, and homestyle salad dressing.
2601 Cerrillos, 471-8272
- Zia Diner
American-style diner, great diner-style food (e.g., milkshakes, pies, hot
beef sandwiches, meatloaf) but also dishes you wouldn't expect at a
diner (hummus, grilled trout). Often a long wait at popular times.
326 S. Guadalupe, 988-7008
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