On a recent trip to Santa Fe (I was there to review a still-undisclosed hotel for this year’s It List… shhh!), I took a quick post-arrival detour and grabbed a table at La Fonda Del Bosque Restaurant, a sun-filled spot just four miles from Albuquerque International Airport. Set in the National Historic Cultural Center (below), a museum and event space devoted to the arts of the Southwest, the adobe restaurant is known for its tostados (corn tortillas with spicy pork in adobo sauce) and its airy take on New Mexico’s finest side dish, the sopaipilla (fried dough). 1701 4th Street SW; 505/247-9480; nationalhispaniccenter.org; lunch for two $25. Here, are a few more favorite spots I discovered along the way:
At the local Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, I perused the stands with smiling hippies, imposing cowboys, and a few other urban outliers like myself, sampling a warm mushroom flatbread before buying raspberry-chili jam, jalapeno hot sauce, and dried sage to burn in my new apartment back in New York. My one shopping regret was leaving behind a hand-spun wool skein, perfect for knitting a bright blue winter scarf. 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe; 505/983-4098; santafefarmersmarket.com.
The Carswell Family has been in the kitchen at The Shed, a raucous southwestern spot, for over 50 years. They don’t take reservations, but the super-spicy red chili enchiladas in homemade tortillas are worth the wait. (To waste time before my table was ready, I walked to the city’s historic Plaza, just a few blocks away.) 113 & 1/2 E. Palace Ave., Santa Fe; 505/982-9030; sfshed.com; dinner for two $60.
Santa Fe is an early-to-bed town, which is why cocktail service at the newly renovated Inn and Spa at Loretto begins, conveniently, at 2 p.m. On weekends, guests snuggle up beside a wood-burning fireplace, drink margaritas straight up, and nibble on buffalo sliders with chipotle aioli--all to live guitar music. But in warm weather, people flock to the outdoor lounge chairs and pool (which, unfortunately, were covered in snow by a freak spring storm when I was there). I guarantee the pool will be busy all summer long, though… Enjoy it, for my sake. 211 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe; 800/727-5531; innatloretto.com; doubles from $19.
Sarah Kantrowitz is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.