Savor Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico


A Culinary & Cultural Adventure in The City Different
A Love Your Parks Tour Story by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid

Nick Peña, owner of Food Tour New Mexico, discusses their progressive walking food tours through the heart of historic downtown Santa Fe that provide a peek into the city’s diverse culture and hidden delectable gems, on Big Blend Radio.

Nestled at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe was originally the site of ancient Pueblo villages dating back between 1050-1150. Then in 1540, conquistador Don Francisco Vasques de Coronado charged into the region and claimed those sites as the “Kingdom of New Mexico” for the Spanish Crown. Later, in 1607, Spanish governor Don Pedro de Peralta founded Santa Fe as a new city, calling it “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” which translates to “Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi.” This makes Santa Fe, New Mexico the oldest capital city in the country. 

If you visit Santa Fe today, along with its impressive amount of outdoor recreational opportunities, you’ll find a cultural mecca that celebrates the arts and cherishes its diverse history and heritage. The downtown district is laid back and loaded with southwest charm and character, not to mention big on flavor. It all goes back to its cultural roots which from our experience, has created a culinary adventure like no other. We’re talking margarita perfection and the ultimate of mouth-watering cuisine with those famous green chiles, posole, enchiladas served Christmas style, chile rellenos, and so much more.

Exploring Santa Fe’s Restaurant & Watering Holes
One of the best introductions to Santa Fe’s restaurant scene is on a walking tour with Food Tour New Mexico. Our guide Nick Peña met us at the Historic Santa Fe Plaza and along with another mother-daughter team, led us to four different foodie experiences. What a fantastic way to connect with the city’s cultural traditions, and to learn some of the legends and lore that helped build Santa Fe’s reputation as “The City Different.”

Our first stop was at the La Posada where we got a wonderful taste of posole and pork in a piquant red chile sauce, paired with a crisp white wine. At San Francisco Street Bar & Grill we savored chicken enchiladas splashed with green and red chile sauce (hello Christmas!), paired with a margarita. After all, Santa Fe has its own Margarita Trail and so we must indulge! At the Upper Crust Pizza, we sampled the difference between a typical American pizza and a Santa Fe style pie, and tried some local New Mexico craft brew. The grand finale was the delicious drinking chocolate at Kakawa Chocolate House. Their chocolate elixirs span cultural history from Mesoamerica to Europe, Mexico, and contemporary America.

On this episode of Big Blend Radio, Rick Galligan discusses the Thunderbird Bar & Grill located upstairs overlooking the historic Santa Fe Plaza, as well as it’s contemporary Southwestern cuisine, popular margaritas and expansive tequila selection. 

If true farm-to-table fare is your style, Cafe Pasqual’s is a festive and extremely popular venue that sources the majority of its ingredients from certified organic farmers and sustainable producers. Between the colorful décor and fresh, vibrant flavors of the food which included the Yucatan Organic Chicken Breast Salad, Blue Lady Enchilada Plate, and Dark Chocolate Semifreddo Dessert; our lunch experience was a fabulous feast for the senses. They also have a nice little art gallery upstairs.

After exploring Santa Fe’s galleries, parks and museums all day, upstairs at the Thunderbird Bar & Grill is an ideal spot for an end-of-day margarita and early dinner, especially out on their patio overlooking the Plaza. In fact, there’s so much fun and flavor over there, we went for dinner twice! Along with an impressive selection of specialty cocktails, brews, and wines, the Thunderbird is known for its contemporary southwestern dishes. One of their more popular signature plates is the Margarita Shrimp that features gulf shrimp sautéed with tequila, butter, fresh lime, cilantro, jalapeños, and tomatoes. We give a big thumbs-up to their Prime Beef Sliders, Calabacita Vegetarian Wrap, the New Mexican Burger with cheddar cheese and roasted green chile, and yep, the Hangover Burger…it’s a must-have after following the Santa Fe Margarita Trail!

Sam Gerberding, General Manager of the Inn of the Governors, shares the hotel’s history and amenities including its onsite restaurant Del Charro, plus, family-friendly and outdoor destinations in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Big Blend Radio.


Eat, Drink & Sleep in Santa Fe Comfort and History
We spent four wonderful nights In downtown Santa Fe, experiencing both the Inn of the Governors and La Fonda on the Plaza. 

Inn of the Governors is a beautiful and historic family-friendly hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. Its history starts over a hundred years ago when it was a cavern used to store ice. Then in the early 1900s, the cavern evolved into a livery stable, then an auto shop, and later a GM dealership. Tourism was growing in Santa Fe, and in 1965 Mr. Jeff Vander Wolk made plans to turn the dealership into a hotel, and to build the first 80 rooms of what is now the Inn of the Governors. Twenty years later, he expanded with 20 more guest rooms.

Today the Inn of the Governors is known as “Your Home in the Heart of Santa Fe,” and we couldn’t agree more. The exterior welcomes you with free parking and a vibrant array of flower power, and the interior greets you with friendly and attentive staff, southwestern style furnishings all with a touch of European flair. Along with a lovely pool and patio area, guests enjoy a complimentary full breakfast buffet, plus from 4 pm-5 pm, there’s tea and sherry time served with Biscochito, New Mexico’s state cookies (see the recipe on our sister site!

The hotel also has a great onsite restaurant and bar Del Charro that has a reasonably priced menu featuring Santa Fe favorites like Frito Pie, as well as a good selection of burgers, salads, and sandwiches. It’s on the Santa Fe Margarita Trail too.

On this episode of Big Blend Radio, Ed Pulsifer shares the fascinating history La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, especially the roles both Fred Harvey and architect Mary Colter played in designing and boosting cultural tourism for the hotel, Santa Fe, and across the West. 

The only hotel situated right on the Plaza, and also on the historic Santa Fe Trail and Route 66 ‘The Mother Road,’ the award-winning La Fonda is a destination unto itself. Casual elegance exudes from every corner with over 1000 original art pieces and a history that spans over 400 years, plus, a fine selection of facilities and amenities that include top-notch dining and entertainment venues, beautiful wedding and event spaces, spa and wellness services, boutique shopping, art and history tours, valet parking, and more. Located in the heart of La Fonda, the La Plazuela Restaurant was built in the 1920s, and is surrounded by hand-painted windows. From chile rellenos to carne asada, fajitas and Hatch green chile burgers, the menu features contemporary and traditional New Mexico dishes.

Their docent led tours are popular, and a great way to learn about the rich history and art that has made La Fonda’s story and experience so distinct. The tours are free for hotel guests and non-guests alike, and well worth the time. You’ll hear how it sits on the site of the very first Inn that was built back when the city was originally founded in 1607. After a few more changes, in 1922 it was rebuilt with architects/designers Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem in charge. In 1925 it was purchased by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and leased to Fred Harvey who spearheaded the world of cultural tourism. At La Fonda, comfort is king and the experience reigns supreme!

Cheers to Santa Fe! 

Plan your Santa Fe culinary adventure:
– Visit Santa Fe:
– Food Tour New Mexico:
– Café Pasqual’s:
– Thunderbird Bar & Grill:
– Inn of the Governors:
– La Fonda on the Plaza:

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