Girlfriends’ Guide to Santa Fe: The Best Restaurants, Hotels & Shopping For an Underrated Getaway
Santa Fe is a striking town worthy of a visit. (Photo courtesy of La Fonda at The Plaza.)
Paper lanterns decorate Izanami, the restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves.
One of the Gerald Cassidy paintings in La Fonda hotel. (Photo courtesy Plaza at La Fonda.)
The author climbs the ladder to the entrance of an old Pueblo cave dwelling.
Intro: On a recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Houston-based journalist Angela Shah and two girlfriends traveled to the New Mexico capital, known for its pink adobe, delectable cuisine, and laid-back vibe, to rejuvenate and plan ahead for 2017. Take a stroll with them through their five-day tour.
WHAT DID YOU PACK?
Santa Fe is tucked among the southern end of the Rocky Mountains, so this time of year, pack for winter temperatures — and possibly snow. For a morning hike at Bandelier National Monument, a sturdy pair of Keen boots, Athleta Shasta pants, and a cozy wool cap from Moosejaw. For an evening at one of the city’s top restaurants, Cole Haan knee-high boots paired with cashmere/silk sweater dress by the Elder Statesman.
I always fly with a book — for this trip it was Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. For moisturized hands and lips, my standbys are Smith’s Rosebud Salve and Burt’s Bees almond & milk hand creme.
WHERE YOU STAYED
We stayed in a junior suite at La Fonda on the Plaza, a Santa Fe institution. A fine example of Southwestern luxury and a living museum at the same time, our room opened up to a large shared tiled patio perfect for breakfast. (Complimentary boxes of local candy-maker Senor Murphy chocolates left for us by staff each day were a special treat!) Just beyond was the outdoor pool that we would have used had the weather been warmer.
The hotel itself is an introduction in Santa Fe’s history — it was once a waystation for travelers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad 100 years ago. Today, the building is home to real gems of Southwestern art, including those by Gerald Cassidy and Paul Lantz.
La Fonda’s location can’t be beat, sitting in the heart of Santa Fe’s historic plaza, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.
Santa Fe has a dizzying array of places to get excellent meals. The city’s restaurants feature its signature Southwestern cuisine —green chile, blue corn enchiladas, pozole and other treats — but also topnotch French fare, sushi and tapas. On our trip, our meal at Izanami, the restaurant at the Ten Thousand Waves resort, was the perfect way to “recover” from an afternoon at the Japanese-themed spa.
Geronimo is located in a whitewashed adobe building constructed in 1756. This Canyon Road institution features cozy dining areas filled with kiva fireplaces and exposed wooden beams. Chef Sllin Cruz’s menu has a range of Southwestern dishes that have an Asian flair like Telicherry-rubbed elk tenderloin with sugar snap peas, applewood smoked bacon and creamy brandied-mushroom sauce, and Green Miso Sea bass with ramen noodles, truffle essence, lobster miso and citron rouille.
I opted for the chef’s mushroom tasting menu, four courses including a shiitake organic “wedge” salad, a wild mushroom and sherry bisque, and potato parmesan gnocchi with chanterelles, pistachio and basil pesto, Italian truffles and burrata.
Turquoise (and other precious stones) and silver jewelry crafted in traditional Native American styles or more modernist interpretations that seek to take these crafts into the 21st century.
— Each day at the Palace of the Governors, there is a market organized by the Native American Vendors Program. Native craftspeople get slots by lottery to sell their handmade jewelry. We went by at least once a day to seek out some undiscovered gems.
— Santa Fe is an art-lovers mecca and Canyon Road is ground zero, with dozens of galleries and shops within which to browse and buy.
— Of course, Santa Fe’s Plaza is home to all manner of stores, from inexpensive tsotchkes to heirloom Native American silverwork. Unsure of where to start? Ortega’s on the Plaza features more than 100 artists, each with their own style and interpretation, and is a good way to get a sense of the jewelry landscape.
— Relax at the famed Ten Thousand Waves spa, a spot of Japanese tranquility just outside of the city. The treehouse-like spa seeks to recreate the hot spring onsen in Japan and offers public and private hot and cold soaking tubs. (There are also a variety of massages, facial treatments and other spa procedures available.)
— Take a hike at Bandelier National Monument, about an hour’s drive outside of Santa Fe. Abandoned by the ancestral Pueblo people in 1550, visitors can visit their cave dwellings, some of which still feature petroglyphs carved hundreds of years ago.
— Meet Georgia O’Keefe, the iconic American artist, at a museum devoted to her art. The museum contains more than 3,000 of O’Keefe’s oil paintings, drawings and other works from a career that spanned nearly the entire 20th century.
WOULD YOU GO BACK?
We’re already planning it. Perhaps a spring trip dedicated to art. Or maybe a visit in the fall for a trip to the Santa Fe Opera.