I had never been to New Mexico before, nor was it really on my radar of places to visit. I really only pictured it as a hot desert – but it’s so much more! I was very impressed by the architecture, the food and the friendly people of Santa Fe. Thinking about taking a trip to Santa Fe? Read on to see why you should!
I had a work conference in Santa Fe earlier this month that span three days. The flight options are fairly limited, even from Chicago, but overall the travel days weren’t so bad. We decided to fly directly to Santa Fe through Denver. Our layover was only 45 minutes long both ways, and we hopped off one flight and were quickly on the other in no time. Most of the attendees flew into Albuquerque and drove 45 minutes by way of Uber or shuttles to Santa Fe. I’m glad to have flown directly into Santa Fe because I got to see the cutest airport EVER! Check out this little guy:
The drive from the airport to our hotel was a quick, 15 minute drive. Now onto the fun part – our lodging for the next three days.
The Eldorado Hotel & Spa
To put it short, this hotel was amazing! The staff was very accommodating and they kept every square inch of the place spotless. I constantly saw hotel employees running around to make sure everything was clean and running smoothly. When I was at the pool, they made sure there were enough towels for everyone and that I was comfortable. In the fitness center (where I only was for 30 minutes of the entire trip), they stopped in to make sure the water was cold and filled. Incredible!
The design and decor in this hotel was also spectacular. From top to bottom, the Eldorado was furnished with ‘rustic-chic’ furniture. The architecture was deemed as an upscale pueblo-style. While Santa Fe is small, this hotel was certainly walking distance to shops, restaurants and most importantly, the Santa Fe Plaza (I’ll get to that in a second). All in all, I would definitely recommend the Eldorado to anyone staying in Santa Fe!
The Delicious Mexican Food & Green Chile of Santa Fe
The conference was only three days, but we stayed for four nights. Three of those nights, we had Mexican food. It just never got old! I did try to switch it up a bit – one night I had a chicken fajita quesadilla (did you know that was a thing? it is. and it is tasty). The next night I had a mini shrimp quesadilla with chips and guac. But for my most favorite dinner in Santa Fe, I had chicken and cheese enchiladas and from the Coyote Rooftop Cantina. You have the choice of green or red chile to top it off, but if you order it ‘Christmas Style,’ you’ll get both! And I heard you’ll sound like a local 🙂 I’m not a huge fan of overly spicy foods, but I imagine if you love spicy, then you’ll love it even more than I did!
We also ordered a starter before the entree. I wanted to save this part of the meal for last, because it was awesome! It must be a new menu item as I can’t find it anywhere. However, it was hands down my favorite part of any meal we had. It was a green chile pork soup. It was a lot bigger than we thought, so we were super stuffed before our enchiladas came. You can’t find this particular dish anywhere else!
It doesn’t look like much, but boy was it delicious. We capped this night off with a Mojito, one of their specialties and called it a night. Here is some super cute art that you’re greeted with upon your arrival to the Coyote Rooftop Cantina:
My second favorite meal of this trip was at the Vanessie Restaurant. This is super close to the Eldorado and has a piano bar in the front room! The piano bar was packed, but we made our way to the restaurant and quickly ordered a bottle of wine. It only seemed fitting to drink some nice wine and listen to some live piano. Their menu was also impressive, and we had a hard time deciding what we wanted. This was our ‘treat yoself’ meal, so we went all out. The sweet fire calamari was first, and it was muy bueno. The sauce made it a little spicy, but when in New Mexico, right?
For my main course, I decided to go with a potato-crusted cod served over corn risotto with a side of asparagus. It was everything I ever wanted and more. I couldn’t put my fork down to stop eating it! We also ordered a side of the lobster mac n cheese, which we absolutely did not need. Look at how good this looks!
We decided to just say no to the dessert menu and waddle ourselves out of there. My colleague said someone looked strikingly similar to Dolly Parton in the bathroom on the way out, but we could never confirm or deny it was actually her. I do want to believe that she was at the Vanessie at the same time as us. How cool would that be?!
That New Mexico Sunset Though
Wow. If you love soaking in the sunsets, Santa Fe is the spot to be. More specifically, the La Fonda Hotel’s Bell Tower is the spot to be to watch the sun go down. I was obsess with the view this small bar/restaurant provided. We got the insider scoop that this was the place to be right around 8pm. We got there around 6:30pm and we’re fortunate to arrive as soon as a couple with a table along the railing was leaving, because it is a free for all up there. I ordered a glass of Rose and some appetizers and we waited for the magical views to begin. Although, it was already a beauty when we first sat down on the rooftop. Once the sun really started going down, there were crowds behind us trying to get the best picture/snapchat possible. We were so fortunate to have gotten our seat when we did. Here’s what I was able to capture at the Bell Tower that fine evening:
And of course, the progression of the sunset (made with the Instagram layout app):
The Santa Fe Plaza
The plaza is in the heart of downtown, and has been for almost 400 years! It’s a National Historic Landmark that boasts live music, food stands and people from all walks of life. Every night we were in town, people flocked to the plaza to dance to the live music or simply enjoy each other’s company. It was definitely a breath of fresh air seeing a community comes together for the common purpose of having a good time. Everyone was just so happy! I even caught myself movin’ and groovin’ to the music a few times, and I’m not much of a dancer (without alcohol). It was hard to leave the plaza on the last night because I felt nothing but positive vibes from the tourists and the locals in Santa Fe, and the band playing on stage really knew how to work the crowd. It was perfect weather and the most phenomenal ending to my trip in Santa Fe.
I already can’t wait to visit this little, perfect, adorable city again. Maybe for a ski trip next time! Have you ever been to Santa Fe?! What did you think? Feel free to comment below!