Show Me the Way (in) Santa Fe...and Taos...and ABQ
July 8, 2008 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Where and what should we eat/drink/see/look at/hike up etc. in Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque this weekend?

We have a basic itinerary, but I would love some help in the "don't miss!" category. If you've been to any or all of these spots within the last year, and have personal recommendations, I'd greatly appreciate your advice.

Friday: We'll be in Santa Fe, having arrived the evening before. Plan A is to get up early-ish and head to Bandelier NM, end up back in Santa Fe in the afternoon and either: eat/drink/collapse OR Georgia O'Keefe museum, then eat/drink/collapse. Recommendations for places and items to eat and drink are desired. At the moment, there is no Plan B.

Saturday: Head to Taos via the scenic route. We will stop in Chimayo. Other can't-miss stuff on the way? Any recommendations eating/drinking/must-see spots in Taos are most welcome. We're going to try to get to the powwow that's this weekend, so my fry-bread needs will be taken care of.

Sunday: Drive to ABQ. Any places along the way that we shouldn't miss?

Monday: In ABQ. Our only solid must-do thing is Petroglyph NM, so any recommendations for food, drink etc. are most welcome.

Obviously, we like to eat and drink. We like to hike. We like to go birding. We're not huge on shopping, but if you have a jeweler/art gallery/artisan that we really shouldn't miss, let me know. If you have particular trails at Bandelier or Petroglyph NMs, or around Santa Fe/Taos, please let me know.
posted by rtha to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Downtown Santa Fe: Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery. I'm partial to the green chile cheeseburgers and the green chile cheese tamales.

You also have to eat at Rancho de Chimayo. YUM!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2008

Bandelier and Preoglyphs:
Well, I was going to say that Bandelier and Petroglyphs are worth going to see. Do not come up with a plan B. If you go to Bandelier, do the 2 mile loop hike and make sure you climb up to the cliff dwelling at the back end of the loop. 3 wooden ladders ascending 170 feet (or something like that) has been enough to make me pucker ever since I was a kid. I do it every time. A month ago it was windy and I went up singing the Fuck Me song the whole way.

In Taos:
Try Outback Pizza makes a damn fine pie. Get one with beans and green chile. Forget concepts of pizza from eastern states or italy. Drink it with a local beer.

Drink some beer at Eskes near the square. They tend more towards the lower carbonation/warmer serving temperatures side of the scale. If you want to try the green chile beer, buy a bottle and drink it with pizza at some other time or get the sampler tray. It is good, but it doesn't need a full pint.

Is there a non-scenic route to Taos?

Go west of Taos to the Gorge Bridge. A month ago we saw some bighorn sheep down on the edge of the gorge from the bridge. We saw signs while driving up the river from Espanola for sheep crossing. I have never before seen the animals or the signs in the region. I love it.

If you are interested in sustainable architecture, you might be able to get a tour (or even spend the night) in one of the Earthships. A cheap hotel on the north side of town (near the Outback) called The Laughing Horse Inn was one of the originals. It's a cool place to stay if you are not going to be camping.

If you want to swim in the Rio go south to the Orrilla Verde Recreation area near Pilar. Good swimming in a cold ass river. If you drive staright through and up onto the other side of the gorge, you will drive past the deserted town of Carson which has no other meaning to me besides it being a location in Abbey's "The Fool's Progress".

Driving from SF to ABQ:
I suggest the back route through Madrid and Sandia Crest. It's a good drive. You can get a decent cup of coffee in Madrid if you can stand the artsy-fartsy hippy vibe.
posted by Seamus at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Consider taking the slightly long way to ABQ from Taos and hit the Sandia Crest. As you can see from my link, you can take a tram up from the ABQ side. You can also drive up the east side, which will take you a bit out of your way drivewise but might be worth it. There are a bunch of trails along the crest, some with excitingly precipitous drops. If I recall correctly, you can walk from the parking area to the tram stop in a hour or so. Last time I was there (2001), the tram stop at the top had a restaurant with a bar, where you can have some fun with high altitude drinking. If you drive up, the subsequent hike back the parking area can be exhilarating after a few beers.
posted by mollweide at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2008

Eat only things with Green or Red Chile.
You will regret every meal that does not contain one of those sauces.
If you live there or stay there for more than 2 weeks, you should regularly violate this rule.
posted by Seamus at 1:56 PM on July 8, 2008

The Tram still runs.
The bar and restaurant are only worth going to for the view.
I like it best when it is colder 'n the deepest level of hell and the icicles are hanging off the trees horizontal to the ground.
I'd go anyway. Ignore my previous statement. Follow molleweide's advice, but amp yourself up on Madrid coffee first. That oughta be fun.

Also, once you see the shady, forested backside of the Sandia's, it makes the arid cliff faces toward the city that much more magnificent.
posted by Seamus at 2:02 PM on July 8, 2008

In Santa Fe, I recommend Harry's Roadhouse. It's a cafe/diner type atmosphere with an amazing assortment of foods. The Thai curry was fantastic!
posted by parilous at 2:11 PM on July 8, 2008

Driving from SF to ABQ:
I suggest the back route through Madrid and Sandia Crest. It's a good drive.

+++. Excellent drive.

While up in SF, head out to the Puye cliffdwellings. It's less travelled than many of the other native sites in the area, but an excellent adventure, nonetheless.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2008

Oh, and if you run into my mom in SF, say 'hi' for me.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2008

the echo ampitheater is one of the coolest natural wonders i've ever seen
posted by nanhey at 3:15 PM on July 8, 2008

In Taos, I second Eske's for beer, as mentioned above, but I also like their food--particularly their big fat burritos and green chile. Also, seconding that you should eat as much chile as you can. Also, in Taos there are some delightful hot springs along the Rio Grande river--you have to "hike" a few hundred feet down a dirt trail and these are completely non-commercial--a gorgeous place if you are interested Memail me for directions. (there are other hot springs along the river, too, but they aren't as good or warm).

In Santa Fe I like the Guadalupe Cafe (it is across from the visitor's center) but really there are so many excellent choices I doubt that you can go too wrong. There is a good brewery in town called 2nd Street.

In Albuquerque (as a former resident) I am obliged to mention the Frontier ( a stellar 24 hour diner). As others have mentioned there is some nice hiking in the Sandias (Taos and Santa Fe, of course, have gobs of great hiking as well). A restaurant that I like is called El Patio. A couple of bars downtown are Anodyne and the Chama River Brewing Company's micro-bar tasting room.
posted by fieldtrip at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2008

Exactly a year ago, I was studying for the bar exam, crazy stressed, but had to fly out to an important wedding in NM. That weekend, in Santa Fe, my wife and I stopped at Cafe Pasqual's and had a GREAT time. Fabulous food, nice vibe, and great service. Really took the edge off some of the stress. For dessert, we ordered the sampler platter, but instead of bringing out small portions of several desserts, for some reason the waiter just brought out three full-sized desserts.

Pasqual's is in all the guidebooks, so maybe someone will tell me it's not what it used to be, or gouges tourists, or whatever, but I had a great meal. Make reservations in advance. It's very busy.

Have fun!
posted by hhc5 at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2008

If you need some relaxation before you crash, take a dip in the spa at 10,000 Waves.
posted by billtron at 5:08 PM on July 8, 2008

Taos Inn for chips, salsa, & margaritas (or beers or whatever). (Their food otherwise is skippable. If I remember right, it's like generic California cuisine [eg, portabella mushroom sandwich], and it's fine, but if you're like me and into New Mexican food with lots of chiles, I'd look for that elsewhere and go there either for happy hour or desert.)
posted by salvia at 6:09 PM on July 8, 2008

Ah, I missed that you'd be having fry bread in Taos. That should be great.

A few more thoughts: I second the Gorge Bridge outside Taos. Great scenery.

For the SF -> Taos route, I actually prefer the other one. There's a great moment on the drive when you suddenly find yourself looking out over the entire plateau. However, I might not know what I'm missing, since the time I did the Chimayo route, it was pretty dark.

For the SF -> ABQ route, I actually prefer (and this time, I have done both in the day time) the 4 & 550, through Bandelier and Jemez Springs. Particularly if you weren't in that part of Bandelier already (it's in two pieces), the landscape is amazing. You really feel like you're in a shallow, enormously-wide volcanic crater. They have wildlife tours that leave from the info station there. Then, Jemez canyon has a lot of cottonwoods, and there are some hikes (one to a hot spring) that leave from the 4 there; mefi-mail me if you want me to pull out the guide book and look it up.

In Albuquerque, if you're into birding, check out Bosque del Apache south of ABQ. Here's a guide to birds by season there.
posted by salvia at 6:35 PM on July 8, 2008

In Santa Fe, breakfast at Tecolote Cafe. Do not fear the dirt parking lot or strange entryway that looks like a squatter's den. Squalor is considered "interesting" in Santa Fe. Try the pinon pancakes and eat anything else they give you with red chile.

I like the back way from Santa Fe to ABQ through Madrid and other Turquoise Trail places. I prefer the abandoned structures though, so YMMV. NOTE: Madrid does not have indoor plumbing. Porta-potties rule the roost, so plan the potty breaks ahead.

In ABQ, Frontier always works for food (I usually eat an adovada burrito and a dozen plain, fresh tortillas). I then usually waddle around Nob Hill or downtown and look at the cute stuff.

Since the monsoon kicked our ass today, I should remind you to be prepared for sudden, crazy downpours in mid-afternoon. They don't usually last long but they sure leave a lot of mess behind.
posted by answergrape at 8:31 PM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks so much, y'all! Keep it coming!

How monsoony is there this season? This week?
posted by rtha at 9:26 PM on July 8, 2008

Response by poster: is it there
posted by rtha at 9:53 PM on July 8, 2008

I had dinner at the Frontier tonight!
posted by gingerbeer at 9:57 PM on July 8, 2008

In Santa Fe, I recommend going to the Plaza Cafe for a bowl of red or green chile. It is freaking excellent there (it's pretty darn good all around Santa Fe, to be sure) and we have it as a mandatory stop. It's right on the plaza as well, so it's easy enough to find. If the little bakery nearby is open, grab a bag of bizcochitos. (Yeah, I know, it's really a Christmas cookie, but damn they're good.)

Friday is the right day to go to the O'Keeffe Museum. Friday evenings are free from 5-8 pm.

Along the lines of art, there is a Chuck Jones gallery there. It's a fun stop.

Another food related thing - if they're open, grab a bite to eat at the fajita cart on the Plaza.

(Santa Fe rocks. We're hoping to get there for Fiestas again this year. Bonus for us is that we pass through Hatch on the way home, right in the middle of green chile harvest season.)
posted by azpenguin at 12:01 AM on July 9, 2008

It´s been raining at least a little bit in Albuquerque every day this week, either in the afternoon or at night. It´s really not that big a deal, but you might want to bring a jacket and hat if you are going for a hike. If it starts to rain too hard to see while you are driving, pull over (on a freeway or highway, take an exit or side street first), and it will probably ease up within 10 minutes or so.

In Albuquerque, if you're into birding, check out Bosque del Apache south of ABQ.
If you are heading 80 miles south of Albuquerque to do this, stop at the Owl Bar for a green chile cheeseburger. Be aware that the Owl Bar is closed on sundays.

Do eat a green chile cheeseburger someplace while you are here, and be sure to check out plenty of other dishes involving red or green chile.

Madrid does not have indoor plumbing.
The Mineshaft bar has indoor plumbing. During the day they are a bar and restaurant, so kids are allowed in during that time.

Old Town in Albuquerque is an interesting contrast to Santa Fe, some people seem to prefer one over the other. You might also like the Indian Pueblo cultural center if you want to learn more about the pueblos.

I hear there is good birding at [park I don´t remember the name of] west of Candelaria and Rio Grande Blvd, the park is in the bosque near the river and connects up to several river trails. I´m not a birder, so I always skip the park and hit the trails that go either to or parallel the river.

The Jemez and the Turquoise trail route through Madrid are both very nice routes to go from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. Driving through the Jemez will take a little longer, but I think that´s the route I´d go if you are taking all day to do it. Fabulous scenery, nothing like what you will be seeing on the way to Taos.
posted by yohko at 12:20 AM on July 9, 2008

if you have a jeweler/art gallery/artisan that we really shouldn't miss, let me know

Not knowing your tastes, I can´t recommend anything, but almost any gallery will have a free publication, ¨The Collector´s Guide¨. It´s a small book packed with photos from most of the galleries in Taos, SF, Madrid, and Albuquerque. Pick up a copy and see if anything strikes your fancy.
posted by yohko at 12:28 AM on July 9, 2008

I got some great responses when I asked a similar question a year or so back.
posted by DawnSimulator at 12:38 AM on July 9, 2008

you're heading into one of my favorite parts of the world. lots of good suggestions above, a couple i would add:

1) really really really go to "the white place". it's just amazing, you'll feel like you're on another planet. (in fact, they filmed the show earth 2 there) make sure you hike up into the canyon and explore a bit. a slideshow (that doesn't really do it justice, but pictures never do) and directions. (it's actually a bit hard to find, i would just stop at the general store in abiquiu and ask)

2) go to ghost ranch and hike up chimney rock. it's a beautiful hike, you'll get amazing views and feel like you accomplished something!

and yeah, make sure you eat as much chili as you can, especially the green stuff
posted by christy at 12:52 AM on July 9, 2008

We got dumped on yesterday, and the skies are strangely "dark" and ominous. It washed out a few of the service roads I use to get to our back projects in the mountains. An hour later it was humid but sunny. Mixed sunny/showers are planned all this week.

Know that that "partly cloudy" in NM is more sunny than "mostly sunny" in the Midwest. You will need sun protection EVERY time you go outside. You'll be shocked at how damned bright it is EVERY day ALL day. Adjust camera filters accordingly; photos tend to bleed out if you aren't ready.
posted by answergrape at 12:44 PM on July 9, 2008

Thanks for all of the great suggestions here. We had an awesome trip. New Mexico has really, really cool rocks. Just driving from one geologic region to another and looking at the colors and shapes of the rocks and mountains made me happy. Eating green chiles with every meal for a week also made me happy. The big sky made me happy.

A few highlights, for future reference:

Kakawa chocolate in Santa Fe
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks
The Los Alamos Historical Museum
the Matador bar in Santa Fe (most fun when filled with my awesome coworkers)
Eske's Brewpub in Taos
the Taos Pueblo Powwow
the pickup truck with the sheep in the back
posted by gingerbeer at 10:54 PM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: A great trip, and wonderful advice from all of you....which, unfortunately, we were not able to follow to the letter. So we'll just have to go back!

Thank you all - AskMe FTW!
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, and for future reference: the Sun God Lodge, just south of town in Taos, is adorable and affordable.
posted by rtha at 11:08 AM on July 16, 2008

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