Santa Fe Article ~ A Cliche-Free Guide to Santa Fe

7 March 2018

Santa Fe Article ~ A Cliche-Free Guide to Santa Fe

Wall Street Journal

7 March 2018

A Cliche-Free Guide to Santa Fe

The best spots in New Mexico’s arty capital for eating, hiking, shopping and star-gazing, according to four discriminating locals

Cover Photo, Opening Night at The Santa Fe Opera

WITH ITS INOFFENSIVE climate, ambitious opera and downtown crammed with galleries, New Mexico’s capital has long drawn grown-ups. Some make do with a visit, while others settle in for good. As restaurateur Nellie Tischler, who moved back to town after spells in San Francisco and southern India, put it: “You smell the piñon wood fires in the winter, your green chile is fresh, you drive on dirt roads and you see the stars at night.”

In recent years, Santa Fe’s percolating contemporary art scene has attracted a younger crowd, thanks largely to Meow Wolf, an art collective that birthed the House of Eternal Return. Attention HBO fans: This 20,000-square-foot otherworldly space is rigged up in a building owned by Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin, whose novels inspired the “Game of Thrones” TV series.

A newly diverse menu of restaurants also argues in Santa Fe’s favor. “Santa Fe didn’t use to be hip,” said Navajo artist Tony Abeyta. “There wasn’t a lot to do like there is now.” Before setting out to sample those diversions, keep in mind that Santa Fe is 7,200 feet above sea level, so take it easy on touchdown—more water than tequila is advised, at least for the first few days.

An Insider’s Guide to Santa Fe, N.M.

Where to find the best of the old, new and delightfully unusual in New Mexico’s colorful capital


Nellie Tischler

Co-owner, with husband/chef Paulraj Karuppasamy, of Paper Dosa

CRAFT PROJECT // Palace of the Governors.Artisans from the pueblos that surround Santa Fe sell their creations—jewelry, pottery and sand paintings—directly to the public. 105 W. Palace Ave.,

SING OUT // Tiny’s Restaurant & Lounge. You can’t get more New Mexican than Tiny’s. They play Doo-wop and country music and have karaoke on Saturday nights. They serve tacos and enchiladas and the waitresses have been there forever. 1005 St. Francis Dr.,

Opuntia Cafe.

COFFEE, TEA OR CACTUS // Opuntia Café. It’s a really fun coffee and specialty tea shop and plants store. 922 Shoofly St.,

FIGURED OUT // The Girard Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art. Alexander Girard was a designer [for Herman Miller]. He collected figurines and created scenes of what life might have looked like in the ’50s. Everything is tiny and super cute and fun. 706 Camino Lejo,


Tony Abeyta

Navajo contemporary painter

PET SHOP // Look What the Cat Dragged In.Santa Fe yard sales, thrift stores and estate sales turn up ethnographic material from all over the world. Thrift stores affiliated with animal shelters are especially good—people will donate a Queen Anne highboy or 1st edition of “On the Road” because they love animals. 2570 Camino Entrada,

NAAN PARTISAN // Paper Dosa. They serve healthy, hearty Indian food, really good salads, and vegetarian and gluten-free options in a social atmosphere. 551 W. Cordova Rd.,

FIELD TRIP // Abiquiu Lake. It’s Georgia O’Keeffe country, a magical tranquil place with a lake that reflects skies and thunderstorms. Stop at Bode’s General Store for lunch. 21196 US 84, Abiquiu,


TABLE MATTERS // Joseph’s. A great ambience with a very creative menu. If I’m going on a date and want to impress the girl, that’s where I go. 428 Agua Fria St.,


Robin Coale

Psychotherapist and counselor

THE WET LOOK // Ten Thousand Waves. At this Japanese spa in the woods, you can visit impromptu and use the women’s or community hot tub, or make a reservation for a private hot tub. My favorite is the Waterfall Tub, which has its own sauna. There are spa treatments and an izakaya restaurant. The food is fantastic. 21 Ten Thousand Waves Way,

The communal tub at Ten Thousand Waves.
The communal tub at Ten Thousand Waves. PHOTO: JEN JUDGE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

ARIA AERIE // The Santa Fe Opera. The opera house is architecturally significant and beautiful, with open sides. During the performance you can see the night sky, full of stars, from your seat. 301 Opera Dr.,

FLOUR POWER // Sage Bakehouse. They make the most divine scones and great almond croissants. 535 Cerrillos Rd.,

TREES, PLEASE // Aspen Vista Trail. About 4 miles outside Santa Fe, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this is a particularly spectacular hike in autumn when the aspens are ablaze with reds, oranges and golds.


Vince Kadlubek

CEO and co-founder of Meow Wolf, a collective of 200-plus artists

LEGGO MY ENCHILADA // Cafe Castro. This is my favorite Mexican spot. I usually get cheese enchiladas with an egg on top with Christmas (red and green chiles). People say the chalupas are the best in town. 2811 Cerrillos Rd.,

HIGH POINT // Cross of the Martyrs. A cross on a hill overlooking downtown Santa Fe, it’s a powerful historic spot with a beautiful view of the city. 617 Paseo de Peralta


ART CLASS // Form & Concept. A contemporary gallery, it features local artists such as Heidi Brandow, who does incredible works of color, and Brian Fleetwood, a sculptor who creates playful science-fiction forms. 435 S Guadalupe St.,

ALL GEEK TO ME // Currents New Media Festival. This festival shows the best new media work you’ll find anywhere. It’s light-based, interactive and digital and really grabs the imagination of kids and families. [Starts June 8 at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe.] 555 Camino Dr.,

Guest suite at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. PHOTO: JEN JUDGE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Plus, Don’t Miss: Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. In the center of town, the hotel gilds its Native American and Spanish aesthetic with all the luxe you require. From $195 a night, // Shiprock Santa Fe. This gallery and shop stocks new and vintage Native American art, jewelry and rugs, as well as furnishings. 53 Old Santa Fe Trail, // Eloisa. Tortillas pressed with flowers? Just the beginning. Acclaimed chef John Rivera Sedlar, whose aunt was Georgia O’Keeffe’s personal chef, helms this creative Latin-inspired restaurant named for his grandmother. 228 E. Palace Ave., WMV.Visvim. // Japanese designer Hiroki Nakamura chose Santa Fe for his company’s flagship U.S. store and added furnishings and art to its selection of way-cool clothing. 222 Shelby St.,