Monday, July 19, 2010

Fuller destination: Santa Fe, NM

Gloria perched in the window sill on summer vacay in Santa Fe

I recently spent about a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you've never been there, Santa Fe is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life. It's packed with delicious restaurants, eclectic shopping, fun art galleries, beautiful surroundings and friendly people. I can not tell a lie, my time in New Mexico's capital was mostly spent eating wonderful meals and exploring at the Tesuque Flea Market.

Located just north of Santa Fe, the flea is a fun little adventure if you're up for the short drive and a day of walking and searching through treasures. I recommend taking a slight detour on your way out there and stopping at the Tesuque Village Market for a killer hamburger to fuel you for your afternoon perusing the booths. The flea market is packed with everything from faux Louis Vuitton, to fabulous vintage baubles, Santos, rugs, clothing and beads, beads and more beads. It's open 8am - 4pm Friday-Sunday, March through December. Check it out.

Very odd/interesting antique stirrups from the Flea

The Farmers Market
We also stopped by the Santa Fe Farmers Market, held on Saturdays and Tuesdays. The market is so fun and worth the early morning trip (the earlier you get there the better the selection of vendors). It is now housed in and outside of a large pavilion, making it easier to locate and navigate. We picked up some homemade chili powder (can't wait to make frito pie!), homemade sun dried tomato goat cheese, and the best mushroom flat bread you've ever put in your mouth! I can't wait for my next trip out there just to stock up on that bread.

Handmade farmers market items

Restaurants in Santa Fe can only be described as delicious, and to no shortage. We ate at several top notch spots and to truly embrace the ambiance of my vacation spot, I decided to eat like a New Mexican (or how I assume they eat). And that I did. I ate green chiles (the good, spicy ones, not the phony ones they serve here in South Texas) on EVERYTHING - hamburger, turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes, pizza - seriously, you name it I ordered it with green chiles. And I don't regret one order. I wish I could find those down here other than during Central Market's Hatch Chile Fest!

It wouldn't be a trip to Santa Fe, without lunch at The Shed. Everything about this restaurant is fun. It's an eclectic, sort of cavernous space, with a series of vibrantly decorated, funky rooms. The Shed has been around since 1953 and is a Santa Fe institution (they say so themselves on the their website). In 2003, they won the highly prestigious "Americas Classics Award" from the James Beard Foundation. In my opinion, they have some of the best green enchiladas around. But don't go in there expecting Tex Mex, these enchiladas are runny and piping hot - it's hard to tell where the green sauce ends and the cheese/tortillas begin. Excellent.

Photo does not do these justice.

I also had mouth-watering grilled beef tenderloin, from upscale restaurant, The Compound. Although quite pricey, I believe it's worth it. The Compound has been around since the 1960s and is housed right off of Canyon Rd, home to the pricey art galleries. In the last couple of years, James Beard recognized chef, Mark Kiffin, has revamped and recreated the menu giving it a traditional New Mexican feel with a modern flare. We had two great meals here. The beef tender mentioned earlier, and a wonderful crab and lobster salad for lunch one day.

Grilled beef tenderloin on a bed of sauteed spinach.

Other notable restaurants not to be missed:
Geronimo - didn't make it there on this trip but it's also on Canyon Rd. Great food, but way pricey.
Santa Cafe - One of my favorites - excellent Tuna Tartar, Shitake and Cactus Spring Rolls, and onion rings!
Upper Crust Pizza - great local pizza joint. Haven't been there but have gotten delivery several times. 
Saveur - I've read terrible reviews about the waitstaff being rude here, but I had nothing but great experiences. Ate here for lunch a couple of days - casual, design your own sandwich place.
Jambo Cafe - I did not go here, but my parents did and they have raved about it. I hear the lamb stew is quite excellent. (Yes, African food in New Mexico)
La Boca - hit or miss tapas, usually a hit.
Il Piatto - good Italian, good location
Bistro 315 - an old favorite

Photo cred:
The Shed -

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