Your Guide to Charming Santa Fe, New Mexico

Browse Santa Fe’s local restaurants and shops for authentic New Mexican flavors and sights

Photo Modified: Flickr/Steven Depolo/CC 4.0

The Plaza Cafe’s chicken flautas.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of those rare cities in the United States that actually feels old. Walking through this town’s tiny streets gives one a sense that they’re in a European city instead of the middle of the Southwest.

The history behind this town is just part of what makes it charming. The city is brimming with art, gorgeous scenery, culture, and a killer food scene. I found myself enchanted by Santa Fe and did not want to leave after a four-day stint. From the green chili cheeseburger to eating a breakfast burrito at the restaurant where they were supposedly invented, prepare to devour Santa Fe.

The Plaza is the heart of Santa Fe and would be the ideal place to start your adventure. Browse the local shops and even stop in for a quick bite. For an old timey dinner feel with incredible looking cakes, try the aptly named Plaza Cafe. Try New Mexican comfort food like the green chili meatloaf and chicken flautas, or just some guacamole if you want a quick snack. After exploring the Plaza, take a short walk to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, another must-see. Take in some of her paintings, see the tools she’s used to create them, and learn more about the life of this forward-thinking artist who loved New Mexico.

If you ask locals where the best chiles — a New Mexican culinary staple — are served, they’ll almost all say The Shed, located just outside of the Plaza. Unless you’ve made reservations or don’t mind sitting at the bar, prepare for a long wait. But it will be worth it. Order a burrito or enchilada and have it drenched in the state’s signature chilies. They have a really strong, spicy aftertaste and your mouth might burn a little. Your safest bet — especially if you have an aversion to spicy food — is to have them served on the side so you can at least try it. And you should try it.

Having your first meal of the day at the iconic Tia Sophia’s, the alleged home of the breakfast burrito, is a true treat. Expect burritos made with crunchy, freshly sliced potatoes, cooked eggs, and your choice of meat. And have it drenched in chiles. Order it Christmas-style (red and green) to try both chiles. I personally prefer green ones — they’re a bit sweeter — but the choice is yours.

Just about every city has that one hip dual coffee shop/café, and Santa Fe’s is Collected Works Bookstore. Browse the latest titles as you sip from a smooth espresso drink courtesy of Santa Fe’s very own organic roaster Iconik. The store also stocks decadent doughnuts from local Whoo's Donuts and other baked goods from Sweet Lily Bakery. I also had a salted chocolate chip cookie here that nearly changed my life.

Santa Fe Bite is legendary for its green chili cheeseburger. And after the first bite, you’ll see why. Expect a juicy Angus patty topped with melted cheese and just the right amount of green chilies. It will leave your stomach full, and your mouth burning just a little bit.

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