Tuesday, May 6, 2014

72 Hours in Santa Fe, NM {Staycation}

We recently spent three indulgent days staycationing while my mom was visiting. This was a good excuse to try some things we've been wanting to do and to rediscover some of our enchantment with New Mexico. New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment, but people always joke that once you move here it becomes the Land of Entrapment. My friend has launched a campaign to re-ignite her enchantment, and this weekend we brought the campaign chez MeghAndrew too.

As you would probably suspect, this Santa Fe weekend is heavy on eating and drinking. We don't normally indulge this much, but it was so fun to just be tourists for three days. Whenever I need to go downtown for a meeting, my heart often fills with jealousy for all of the strolling tourists who are trying to decide where to stop for lunch at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday. This time, I was one of them!

This is an incredibly long recap of the staycation weekend, but it occurs to me that I've never really written much about our favorite Santa Fe restaurants. We visited many of them this weekend so they are included here.

Thursday evening

Walking at the Dog Park. Vacation started Thursday night after work. My mom and I brought the dog girls up to the dog park for a long walk. Our dog park is huge and is on a hill overlooking downtown. I always bring visitors there because it has nice views of the city and the mountains, and you can easily walk for an hour or more on the trails or in the arroyos. And we all know that tired dog girls = a better visit for everyone.

Dinner at Joe's. Our brisk walk was followed by dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Joe's Diner. Like many gems in New Mexico, it is located in a little shopping strip and doesn't look like much from the outside. We stumbled upon it several years ago when we happened to go to the jeweler next door to have my wedding ring resized. We had ridden our bikes as fast as we possibly could to get to the jeweler by 5:30 when they closed up shop. We made it there as they were pulling down the gates and turning off the lights. They still let us pick up my resized ring, but we were so exhausted that we needed a break. We popped into Joe's and discovered that they focus on local and sustainable ingredients, homemade food and high quality dishes. Personally, I think the atmosphere could be improved, but the food is consistently delicious and I like to support this kind of business. I've always enjoyed everything I've ordered, but their pizza is definitely a must and the best I've had in Santa Fe. And their dark chocolate truffles for dessert are so good!


Walking on the Santa Fe River Greenway. On Friday morning, we slept in and then walked the dog girls down to the Santa Fe River. The City is draining the reservoirs above town for repairs so there has been a good amount of water in the River for several weeks. Not only is this really great for the plantings and burgeoning bosque, water in the river totally transforms our city. Lola had a good time cooling down and romping a bit in the water.

Late lunch at Santacafé. After we had walked back home and cleaned up, we set off for one of my favorite traditions - the long lunch at Santacafé, a Santa Fe institution and my favorite place for a fancy yet affordable lunch. We leisurely drank rosé and enjoyed our late lunch in the sunny restaurant. Between the three of us, we had the Mexican braised beef quesadilla, the Alaskan cod fish and frîtes and the sherried chicken salad. All excellent.

Afternoon strolling. After lunch, we poked around downtown. We did a self-guided tour of the Roundhouse (state capitol), which has a massive art collection, looked in shops and people watched. The bar on the top floor of La Fonda has opened for the season, so we took the elevator up and enjoyed the views. It's not that often that you get that vantage point in New Mexico. We have so few tall buildings so getting to the fifth floor is quite the treat.

Happy hour Cocktails. I had read an article about Santa Fe Spirits in the local paper and wanted to try the downtown tasting room. It is tucked away on Read Street and was a sweet little place with really good cocktails made with local spirits.

Light dinner at Taberna. After our cocktails, we wanted to find someplace for a light dinner. We decided to try Taberna, which had been highly recommended by a trustworthy source. Taberna is owned by the same chef as La Boca, which I'm honestly not very smitten with, BUT Taberna was so.much.fun! It is much more relaxed, friendly and lively than La Boca. We showed up without a reservation and were seated at the community table. Luckily, they have live Spanish guitar music on Friday nights, which really added to the atmosphere. We enjoyed excellent wine, shared some tapas and even as we were leaving four hours later, people were still coming in for dinner at 10:30 pm. Taberna is the answer to our Santa Fe dining conundrum - we like to eat late (not unreasonably, but I can rarely get Andrew to agree to a dinner reservation before 8:30 pm) and in Santa Fe, that often means that we are shutting down the restaurant.


Breakfast at the Plaza Café. On Saturday morning, the girls took another trip to the dog park, and then we had breakfast at one of our favorite spots -the Plaza Café South Side (note: this is a different restaurant than the Plaza Café downtown). We were thrilled when this place opened on the south side of town. They make everything from scratch, source local and organic ingredients and everything we've tried is always good. The service can be a little spotty sometimes, but unless you're in a hurry, it's a sure bet. I love their fish tacos and BLTs with avocado.

Visiting Puye Cliffs. After breakfast, we headed north to Santa Clara Pueblo to visit the Puye Cliffs, the ancestral home of Santa Clara. I've been meaning to visit Puye Cliffs for as long as I've lived in Santa Fe and have never made the trip. I was blown away by how cool this visit was. I usually send visitors to Bandelier National Monument, but in the future, I'll tell them to visit Puye first. You have to visit the cliffs and mesa with a guide. We did the adventure tour, which was two hours and included the cliffs tour and mesa top tour. You purchase your tickets in a gas station off the highway, and then it's about a 20 minute drive up to the old Harvey House, which has been turned into a small and charming museum. There is a gift shop and the tour begins here in the shady courtyard.

On the way back to Santa Fe, we stopped in White Rock at the overlook of the Rio Grande.

Dinner at The Shed. Saturday night we had a reservation at The Shed, another Santa Fe institution. We had lots of chile (and lots of margaritas) in one of the fun and lively dining rooms. It's fun to be downtown and stroll around the plaza after eating so much chile, but I actually prefer La Choza, the sister restaurant of The Shed. They have sopapillas and carne adovada, and The Shed has neither. Heart sinking... Still tasty nonetheless.


Brunch at Chocolate Maven. On Sunday, we wanted to take it easy so after another stroll with the girls, we had brunch at the Chocolate Maven. Andrew works next to this place and is tortured daily by the smells of freshly baking cakes and breads. Apparently his building's ventilation system is right next to the Chocolate Maven's output. They make a variety of cookies, croissants, tarts and treats, but they also have a good brunch menu. Andrew and I had the Eggs Benedict and my mom had a waffle with blueberry rhubarb compote. Rhubarb season here we come!

Afternoon at the Movies. After brunch, we saw a matinée of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I hadn't seen a preview, but I knew it was supposed to be good. It was SO FUN! When it ended, I wanted to just stay in the theatre and watch it again. It was so engaging and pulled us right in. It's not that often that I absolutely love a movie, but this one was perfect.

Tapas at El Farol. After the movie, we strolled around Canyon Road and popped into El Farrol for some tapas and sparkling wine. Again, a lovely meal. We had the Spanish cheese platter, Jambon de Serrano, and ceviche. We chatted the afternoon away before heading home to hang out in front of a fire.


Breakfast at the Tune Up. My mom left Monday morning, and we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Tune Up Cafe, one of our favorite places in Santa Fe. We go at least once a week, but I never get tired of their menu. They often have specials. I usually get the breakfast burrito or the smoked salmon benedict when it's on the specials board.

It was sad to say goodbye, but it was such a fun weekend. We all felt like we had had a mini vacation.

The staycation definitely made me feel a renewed sense of appreciation for Santa Fe. It's easy to get into a routine and our daily lives and forget that we live in a pretty fun place.


  1. Sounds like my kind of vacation! Glad you were able to enjoy your own city through a tourist's eyes :) I want see that hotel movie too - everyone I've talked has loved it.

  2. A staycation is a great idea and I love your photos of the Puye Cliffs

  3. I've never thought of having family or friends over as a staycation. Usually when we host family and friends we don't make any grand plans but I like using it as an excuse to explore more locally!

  4. All sounds so fun!!! Puye looks awesome!

  5. We talk about this a lot. We sometimes take for granted all of the awesome things to do where we live. Whenever we have guests visit from out of town, we love to take them to all the places tourists go that we've never been to even though we live here!


Hey, thank you!

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