Mark your calendars! The 27th Annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta takes place September 27th – October 1st. If you have not been to this Fiesta, this five-day event promises the best food and wine in the Southwest. The festivities include six guest chef winery luncheons, seven cooking demo’s at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, eight wine seminars, 40 wine dinners at Santa Fe Restaurants, a reserve wine tasting and a Grand Tasting. The Grand Tasting will feature 75 of Santa Fe’s finest restaurants and 100 world-class wineries at the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera. I attended this food and wine fiesta in 2014 & 2016 and each year was a different experience. In 2014, I attended a memorable wine dinner at Coyote Café & Cantina and explored various restaurants with a food tour group, A Taste of Santa Fe. In 2016, I attended the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta Media Event, a Reserve Wine Tasting and the 26th Annual Grand Tasting. If you would like to know more about this five-day food & wine extravaganza and/or inquire about tickets for the various events, go to santafewineandchile.org. Note, tickets sell out quickly.
Santa Fe mornings and nights can be chilly and afternoons can be quite warm, so packing essentials include a light coat, sweaters, shorts, sundresses and a pair of sunglasses. 2016 was slightly warmer than 2014, so check the weather ahead of time to pack appropriately.
Downtown Santa Fe is full of mystique and old world charm with plenty to admire including the historic buildings, museums, the galleries on Canyon Road, the performing arts and more. Santa Fe Square holds a variety of lovely shops that specialize in leather boots, turquoise jewelry, Southwest fashion and furniture. You also don’t have to go far, if you are searching for a snack, meal or cocktail. The Square is the heart of the city and you will end up walking everywhere – no Uber is needed. If you are in need of some rest & relaxation or want to connect with nature, there are many local spas and the Santa Fe National State Forest is nearby and is perfect for hiking. Visit https://santafe.org/ for more information. Following are a couple of suggestions on where to stay, drink & dine, if you crave a Taste of Santa Fe.
Whether you choose to stay at a hotel, Airbnb or HomeAway – DO stay near the Santa Fe Square. Good hotel options include Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe, which is conveniently located by the Santa Fe square. The hotel’s decor is full of Southwest charm and the fireplace is a lovely touch. It’s chilly in the evenings, so the fireplace does come in handy and hotel attendants are available to provide fresh wood and light the fire at your request. HomeAway is also a great option. Last year we rented a charming casita which was a couple blocks from the square. This latter option was my personal favorite. I love having a full kitchen and living room when I travel for an extended amount of time.
La Fonda on the Plaza should be on the top of your list for cocktail hour. They have a lovely roof top bar named the Bell Tower, where you will find one of the most gorgeous sunsets in Santa Fe. There is a quota for the amount of people who can be at the bar at one time, so get there early to reserve your spot. Dress to impress because this is a great spot for gorgeous photos that you will want to post on your social media portals or share with friends.
The Coyote Cantina is situated atop the Coyote Cafe and is also known as one of the best roof tops in Santa Fe. This is the perfect place to grab a cocktail before dining at Coyote Cafe. Although the Cantina is much more casual & relaxed, I would definitely glam it up when dining at the Coyote Cafe.
In the off-chance that it is raining or too chilly for a roof top, checkout the Living Room at Inn and Spa at Loretto Inn Santa Fe lounge for cocktails. It has a warm & inviting atmosphere and they have live entertainment Thursday through Saturday. If you are lucky, you can snag the couch by the fireplace.
You will find a variety of cuisines and fusions in Santa Fe including Southwest, Mexican, Spanish, Cowboy Chuck-Wagon and Pueblo Native American. I do not have a favorite restaurant, yet, since I have a growing list of restaurants that I am anxious to try, like Geronimo and Eloisa. However, I highly recommend that you do attend at least one wine dinner, if you are in Santa Fe during the Wine and Chile Fiesta. In 2014, I attended the Kistler Wine Dinner at Coyote Cafe and it was exceptional from beginning to end. We still talk about the experience to this day. Since the Kistler Wine Dinner, we have attended wine dinners in other states and the experience we had at Coyote Cafe by far outweighs the rest.
For lunch, I suggest you schedule one of food tours offered by a Taste of Santa Fe. This walking food tour was a great way to learn about the culinary history of Santa Fe as well as sample 5-7 different dishes from local restaurants. During the tour, I sampled Christmas-Style Enchiladas from San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, Chicken Tortilla Soup from Thunderbird Bar & Grill, the most unforgettable Banana Crème Brûlée and Bizcochito from the Luminaria Restaurant & Patio and Blue Corn Muffins and Honeydew & Basil Gazpacho finished with Cucumber from La Casa Sena, just to name a few dishes.
Regardless of where you choose to dine, it is important that you open your palate to a new experience. You will not find your traditional Tex-Mex or Mexican cuisine here as New Mexico’s cuisine has its own flair and flavor.
Yoga, Hikes, Chocolate & More:
Love to hike or practice yoga? Check out the Yogi Hiker, Stacy Kinsley. The Yogi Hiker has three different hikes to choose from and you must schedule these in advance. I opted for the Traditional Yogi Hike, which included a 45 minute hike up the mountain in the Santa Fe National Forest. At the apex of the trail, we practiced gentle yoga for an hour and then hiked back to our starting point. This is perfect way to start the day and rev up the appetite for lunch.
Chocolate lovers must check out the Kakawa Chocolate House. Be adventurous and try one of their specialty chocolates that infuse spicy chile. If you are in Santa Fe during the fall months, you will be lucky to see all the green Hatch Chile’s at the farmers market. If you have rented a casita, this is a perfect opportunity to cook up dinner with some of Santa Fe’s local produce. The market is open Saturday year-round, however, they are also open a couple of times during the week. The farmer’s market schedule enclosed will also list the produce that is available during the year https://santafefarmersmarket.com/farmers-markets/.
If you are a fan of 20th century art, visit the iconic Georgia O’Keefe Museum. The museum houses oil paintings, drawings and other works which included O’Keefe’s most recognizable images as well as the New York cityscape and other architectural and landscape forms of northern New Mexico.
I have only touched the very tip of what the City Different has to offer. If you travel to Santa Fe, you will walk away falling in love with the city. Although the city is small, it packs more mystique, adventure, bars, restaurants, museums & culture that some other larger cities may have to offer. If you end up taking a trip to Santa Fe and discover a favorite bar, restaurant, shop or hotel, do let me know. I would love to check it out on a future trip.