Coyote Rooftop Cantina: Howl at the moon (or the sun)
This could go under restaurant tips as well but am sticking it here as a fair amount of folks were just having cocktails...
Coyote Cantina is the lively, tomboy sister of the sedate and very expensive Coyote Cafe. Located up on a rooftop patio over the cafe, it's only open during the warmer months and a good choice for sampling some of Coyote's legendary fare without the three-figure price tag of dinner down below!
We stopped in one afternoon for one of their prickly pear margaritas and while they were as good as we'd heard, the place was insanely packed and service was slow and impersonal so we didn't stay long. Still, the food is supposed to be excellent and it's probably a fun place to hang out in the evening - although they don't stay open very late.
Latino/Cuban menu items run to specialty enchiladas, tacos, sandwiches and the like (most around $15) but you could also just grab a basket of chips and salsa, a creative, tequila-spiked concoction, and a perch overlooking the street for a little people watching.
Dress Code: Anything goes (within reason)
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Marble Brewery: A beer with a view
This bar just off the Plaza became a bit of a favourite of ours for early evening drinks. Its first floor roof terrace has a good view of the Plaza below, a friendly atmosphere and a good selection of micro-brews. In our two visits we sampled several of these. Chris favoured the India Pale Ale while I rather liked the Marble Red which had loads of flavour. It was a little too floral though to have with a meal so when we had pizza at the Rooftop Pizzeria under the same management we chose the Pilsner instead which was refreshing and a better choice with food for me.
Beers come in three sizes: a pint is $4.50, 10 oz $3.50 and 5 oz $1.75. The range of sizes made it easy to sample several different beers in one visit, and the waiting staff will also bring you a small taster if you want to try one before committing.
The pub also serves pizzas from the Rooftop Pizzeria, owned by the same company and located elsewhere in the same building - but I suggest you read my review of the pizzeria as we were less than impressed with these!
- Beer Tasting
El Paseo Bar & Grill: Live music some nights
This is an unassuming little bar just south of the Plaza, with live music some nights. We came here a couple of times. The first occasion was on a Tuesday, which is “open mic” night. We thought this might be interesting; however in the time we were there (well over an hour) only one band played, that of the manager, and the light jazz style was not really to our taste. A few other people had turned up, including a guy with a guitar, but they seemed reluctant to take the stage! In the end we gave up waiting, but not before I’d enjoyed a decent margarita and Chris a couple of bottles of beer (total bill $12).
When we went back the following evening there was no live music, and we enjoyed it rather more. The bartender poured a generous Jack Daniels, the non-live music was much more to our taste than the live had been, and there was a friendly, buzzy atmosphere without it being too busy.
They also serve pub-style food and New Mexican dishes, but we never ate here. Prices looked reasonable though so it might be worth a try.
Summer flamenco: Ole!!
Maria Benitez retired in summer 2008 (although she's taken breaks before and come back, so who knows?). The cabaret where she performed was taken over by her protege Juan Siddi (a.k.a. Juanaire) and a troupe incorporating many veteran Benitez dancers and musicians, who presented a comparatively abbreviated but well-reviewed season in July and August. I didn't get to see the show myself, unfortunately; but, based on having seen Juanaire's and other members' performances over a number of seasons, I'd enthusiastically recommend it to any flamenco fan.
Dress Code: No dress code, but most guests dress up a bit. (The room is on several levels separated by steps, so I recommend low-heeled shoes.)
I think the stools at the back of the room have the best view of the stage. Flamenco is sweaty work, so if you sit at the tables in front of the stage, you're likely to get splashed (although for some people that may be just part of the intimate gypsy experience) ...
If you're mobility-impaired, tell the box office when you make reservations, and they'll see that you're accommodated.
Warning: NO PHOTOS!! NO RECORDING!! TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES!!! (No kidding, the musicians will stop the show if your phone goes off.)
- Arts and Culture
Santa Fe Brewing Company: Surprising Music, Great Food
Robert Earl Keene, Taj Mahal, Trish Hinajosa- who's next? The small local bands are good too! Their own locally famous brews and good SW pub food. Choose the sweet potatoe fries with chipotle mayo as your side dish! Warm days, there are tables outside.
SFBC is a good place to go after a day of skiing, kayaking on the Rio Grande or hiking in the Sangres or the Jemez.
Dress Code: Santa Fe eclectic.
- Hiking and Walking
- Beer Tasting
Various: Sitting in comfort
A number of concert venues in Santa Fe weren't originally built for that purpose, so the quality of the seating varies considerably. A few years ago I lost 40 lbs and discovered that it had one unfortunate side effect: sitting for 2 hrs on one's unpadded bones is a sure way to blight one's enjoyment of a concert! So here's my guide to concert seating at some popular venues around town:
1. Lensic Theater -- extremely comfortable
2. St. Francis Auditorium -- wooden benches with cushions (old but still OK)
3. James A. Little Theater -- just replaced the seats (which were long overdue for it!), and the new ones are quite comfortable
4. Loretto Chapel -- wooden church pews (ouch!!); bringing your own cushion is strongly advised
5. Santa Fe Opera -- remodeled a few years ago, very comfortable seats
6. Santuario de Guadalupe -- a motley collection of chairs, some cushioned, some not
7. Greer Garson Theater, College of Santa Fe -- old cushioned seats, but in pretty good shape
8. Paolo Soleri Amphitheater -- outdoors and concrete; bring a cushion (and appropriate weather gear!)
9. Great Hall, St. John's College -- various chairs, some more comfortable than others
GiG Performance Space: Excellent jazz in a cozy setting
Guitarist Bruce Dunlap founded this performance venue as the sort of place he prefers to play in: an intimate, smoke-and-alcohol-free setting, vs. a noisy bar. Originally the showroom for an outdoor furniture manufacturer (!), the room has erratic ventilation and a roll-up door at one side. But it's cozy, has comfortable seats, attracts serious music lovers, and -- because of the proprietor's excellent connections in the jazz world (he founded and ran the Santa Fe Jazz Festival for several years) -- the performers include international stars as well as local favorites.
The schedule is usually posted on the web site (see below). Normally Bruce performs on Fri. nights when he's in town, and other performers appear Thurs. through Sat. -- but some weeks there's a full schedule and other weeks are relatively quiet, so check the web site before you show up. Shows start at 8 PM. Admission is usually by donation, $10 to $15, but for some shows it's a flat $15 (or higher). Note: No refreshments are (usually) sold, but it's OK to bring in your own bottled water or beverages from the coffeehouse next door. (If you want to make an evening of it, there's a pretty good pizzeria across the street, and the Second Street Brewery -- which has an extensive food menu and good brews, but can get awfully noisy -- is behind the coffeehouse.)
Dress Code: No dress code, but I advise the layered look (the ventilation can be unpredictable).
The paramount is closed and swig is under new owners. The DJs (Chicono Built) from the paramount have gone to club alegria on Agua Fria street. Also the lodge just opened and plays house music. My favorite is Willees Blues Bar. They took all the good bands from around santa fe and hired them to play there. Very reasonable priced for santa fe.
Santa Fe Opera: A thoroughly class act
High-quality performances in a spectacular setting.
Almost every seat in the house has a good view of the stage, although, on a warm night, the balcony and the rear corners of the main floor can get unpleasantly stuffy. If you have the choice, get center seats farther back, rather than close-in seats at the far sides: the set designers aren't always careful about sight lines. The acoustics, however, are excellent throughout the whole theater (so better a less-than-ideal seat than not going at all!).
Standing room is a bargain. Standing spots are numbered, and you're provided with a "shelf" to lean on and the same subtitle displays as the seats. Tickets are sold in advance through the Opera box office (and web site). Some performances fill up fast, so buy them early.
Pre-opera tailgate parties in the parking lot are a big tradition. Some are elaborate, with white tablecloths and silver champagne coolers; but if you bring takeout from Whole Foods and a couple of folding chairs, you can still have a great time watching the sun set.
NOTE: Performances start at 9 PM when the season begins, and get earlier as the days grow shorter. Be sure to check the time on your ticket before making dinner plans, as they're strict about making latecomers wait until the next scene change to take their seats.
Dress Code: Always be SURE to bring a jacket or coat, preferably rainproof. The theater is roofed, but if there's a thunderstorm (which happens fairly often) rain can blow in, and it can be a long walk back to your car. Also, when you leave at midnight, it may be 30 degrees cooler than when you showed up with your picnic basket at 7:30. (I bought a loden-cloth cape 16 years ago in Vienna, and it's been indispensible for the Opera.)
Wear fairly solid shoes -- flimsy sandals are a thoroughly BAD idea if you have to slog back to your car in a thunderstorm. But do dress appropriately: if you show up in a nylon jogging suit, you might as well wear a neon sign that screams "Clueless tourist"!
Dragon Bar: Friendliest Bartenders in Town
I stopped in here before my dinner at Bistro 315. This bar is connected with the Pink Adobe Restaurant, has a fire pit outside and an eclectic decor inside. The music was good, the bartenders (and other patrons) were friendly, drinks were inexpensive, and they even had free popcorn! I had a great conversation with one of the bartenders about Neo, his new Neopolitan Mastiff puppy!
Dress Code: Anything your heart desires!
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
Paramount: Cool, layed back, chilled out musical ride
This is the only night club joint in town (Santa Fe's Landmark Night Club), though there are other clubs, and bars. There are different club nights featured (House Music, Rap n Hip Hop, R & B, and a club Gay night which I thought was pretty cool whether one is Gay or not. They also have live music events. I thought this night spot was special as it had such a chilled out atmosphere, and a friendly vibe. It wasnt too crowded when I visted, and the music was mostly pretty good.
I visited the place with friends, and we had a really nice time.
Dress Code: Can't remember exactly, but it seemed pretty casual dress to me.
El Farol: Vamos a Bailar
I went to the bar at El Farol on a night when the amazing band 'Nosotros' was playing. The place was packed and people were salsa/merenge dancing like crazy. Some people were just crazy dancers, but anyways... The bar serves good food from the restaurant (Spanish cuisine) and the service was quite efficient considering the surrounding chaos. You'll find a 30s+ crowd here, both locals and tourists.
Swig: As Swanky as Santa Fe Gets
This is Santa Fe's closest thing to a swanky nightclub. Be prepared to lay down some cash to pay for cover and the expensive martinis. Upstairs there are two bars (one smoking) which are rather laid back with neon lights and videos playing on the walls. Downstairs is the dance floor, probably the only place in town where you can feel like you are clubbing (almost). Look for the interesting folks who decide to dance on the tables, that is entertainment enough! Oh, and check out the bathroom with the fake grass all over the walls.
Dress Code: Dress to impress.
La Fonda hotel (right on the...
La Fonda hotel (right on the plaza) is totally where the tourists go. However, I must say, that's exactly why I go there. On the weekends, look for a band called Sierra. They play a little funky side of country, and there's a tiny little dance floor next to the bar.
If I want to escape to a little place for some two-stepping with my boyfriend, we go here.
La Fonda actually has a great dining room too, with good lunch prices. You dine in a room with a very high ceiling and glass top, and there's a giant ficus tree in the center of the room. Very organic yet upscale.
Dress Code: Santa Fe Style -- as I've described before -- we're a touristy spot, but also very 'New Mexico' -- often called the 'land of manana' (like later, or tomorrow). This all means, dress in whatever is comfortable. However, sweats don't go. Jeans and a dressy shirt always work.
The Santa Fe style is jeans with an ironed crease in the pants. No ties for the men, jeans and blazers with the top button of your shirt unbuttoned, is always acceptable. Boots, particularly 'ropers' (which have a low heel and round toe), are always nice too.
For the best drinks in town,...
For the best drinks in town, try the following. The Bull Ring is a dark, high-end bar, with large and strong well drinks. It's the hangout for many politician-types, and is a good place to have mellow conversation.
The Rio Chama is also a bit dark, but has leather couches and chairs for sitting by the fire. Their attraction for me is the Happy Hour from 4-7 pm each day -- where Margaritas are $3 and beers are $2.
Second Street Brewery has great beers.
Bar B is all about having fun and talking with your friends (especially if you're just about to meet them). It is very gay-friendly.
These are the spots for good drinks. Actually, if you're into dancing/club scene, Bar B (within The Paramount) also has great drinks. The best thing about Bar B is the clientele (a bit from every walk), the red velvet walls decorated with monthly art shows, the glass art behind the bar, and the leopard patterned velvet chairs. Bar B usually has comedy, music or something nightly.
Second Street usually has live music (local musicians) every night, and there's a patio outside under some Aspen trees that's great for summer afternoons/eves.
Dress Code: Dress more 'up' for Bull Ring, Rio Chama, and Bar B; Dress 'down' for Second Street.
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