Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Southwestern Escape: Santa Fe

We spent the recent long weekend on a whirlwind Southwestern escape to New Mexico. In just four days, we aimed to take in all we could in Santa Fe, at nearby Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu and on a mini-road trip to Taos. At every turn, there was something to be inspired by: regional New Mexican food, art from contemporary to traditional, amazing Southwestern vintage (more cowboy boots than you can shake a stick at), tons of museums, breathtaking landscapes and the very special high desert, high altitude sky that changed the mood of the day from hour to hour. They don't call it the land of enchantment for nothing, and I came away with a ton of recommendations. Here I'm starting with a mini guide to Santa Fe — stay tuned for the next installments on horseback riding through Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch landscape and staying in an earthship in Taos.


Eat

We stopped by this cute spot twice while in Santa Fe. As advertised, it's a modern take on a general store and they carry home and garden wares like ceramics, biodynamic seeds and a curated selection of books. There's also an airy open cafe in the back which was the perfect place for a light, tasty breakfast of kale and pineapple smoothies, coffee, granola and kolaches that were enough to charge you up for the day while leaving room for New Mexican comfort food for lunch and dinner.

La Choza 
Sister restaurant of the popular Plaza tourist spot The Shed, La Choza (a 5 minute drive over to the Railyard area) was much less crowded with a much shorter wait. Probably the best New Mexican meal we had on our trip, they offered a vegetarian version of their satisfyingly spicy pozole and blue corn enchiladas with equally hot green or red chile

Santacafé

When I heard this spot was a favorite of Tom Ford's, it was clear we needed to go. It opens later for weekend brunch, so show up right at 11:15 to get seated right away and avoid the crowds at every other brunch spot in Santa Fe. We sat in the pretty outdoor courtyard long enough to try their signature calamari with 4 chile lime dipping sauce (delicious) before clouds rolled in and we took refuge at a table under the eaves. Our other dishes — poached eggs on a brioche-like house-made english muffin with avocado mousse and perfectly pan-seared scottish salmon with baby bok choy — were delightful too. Be sure to take a trip inside where you can walk over the building's dizzyingly cool original well.

Cowgirl
This downhome spot known for BBQ was right around the corner from our Airbnb, so we decided we'd check it out even though we don't eat meat. Luckily they had a great vegetarian red chile quesadilla, and we also tried their crazy, unique ice cream baked potato dessert.

Shop

An incredible space on the second floor of a building on the corner of the historic Plaza, Shiprock carries a stunning collection of museum-quality, Southwestern vintage pieces — think squash blossom necklaces, traditional pottery, and an entire light-filled room of Native American textiles dating from the 1800s to the 1970s— along with mid-century modern furniture, contemporary art and new items from the Americana-inspired Japanese brand Visvim. It's so beautifully curated and the staff were so friendly (refreshing in a rarefied gallery setting), I can't recommend visiting enough.
We stopped in at Double Take on our first day when we only had about 15 minutes before we had to take off for Ghost Ranch, and so I actually had to do a double take at Double Take. It's huge, with room after room upstairs and a thrift store next door, but the heart of their selection is right there on the ground floor as you walk in. You'll definitely want more that 15 minutes to go through their collection of turquoise jewelry, embroidered western shirts, cowboy boots, concho belts, woven ponchos and more.

Boots, boots, boots! This is the place if you're looking for a vintage pair of cowboy or cowgirl kickers. They also have men's and women's vintage clothing, hats and accessories.

See

This unique museum houses the vast vision and collection of Alexander Girard. An architect and designer who worked for clients like Herman Miller, he was also an obsessive collector of folk art. The exhibition is laid out in a really interesting way that visually communicates the similarities of folk art throughout the world by juxtaposing pieces from different countries and minimizing textual explanation.





It's a lively, colorful riot of chockablock dioramas depicting entire Mexican towns, masks, textiles, woven birdcages, grave decorations from Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and so much more. Another exhibit revealed the history of natural red dye cochineal. It traced its rise as a highly prized commodity on the level of silver, and the ways in which it traveled from the old world to the new and back again, influencing the fashion across the globe along the way.

Stay

We stayed in a cozy casita with a spiral staircase and rooftop terrace close to the Railyard/Guadalupe district. The neighborhood was made up of traditional adobe buildings, and was beautifully green and leafy. A half mile from the Plaza and a short walk to spots like Cowgirl and Kowboyz on Guadalupe St., it was close enough to everything to serve as the perfect jumping off point, yet felt far enough away to feel secluded from the crowds.







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