Growing up, I spent many a weekend traveling with my Dad to various car shows around the Northeast. It was his passion and I enjoyed the bonding time with him. It had been 17 years since our last trip together and we decided last year that we were due for another adventure. The trip requirements were fairly minimal- it needed to be within the lower 48, and a place that neither of us had been before. After hearing glowing reports from several friends and relatives, we decided upon Santa Fe, NM. We quickly checked calendars (and I researched available Delta Sky Miles seats) and zoned in on the last weekend in September, which happened to coincide with my Dad's birthday. After booking our tickets, a Google search on Santa Fe activities revealed that our weekend was also the week of the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta. Bonus!!
Santa Fe is known for being a big artist community. To soak in some of the local culture, I even bought something from a struggling artist. I like to give back like that. But where we truly gave back was to the fine restauranteurs, bartenders and waitstaff of Santa Fe. We stayed at the Inn of the Governors- a short walk from the historic Santa Fe plaza. This hotel is not overly expensive and nicely decorated in a Southwestern motif. The Ritz, it ain't, but it suited us perfectly. The thing that was most memorable about the place, though, was the margaritas they served in the downstair saloon- Del Charro. They pour the glass and give you the rest of the shaker which easily fills the glass another three times. We leisurely drank our ritas while my Dad opened his birthday presents.
We stayed in Santa Fe for three nights and had three very different meals. Night one was La Plazuela at the La Fonda hotel. I had heard about their tableside guacamole and the pictures of the indoor courtyard setting looked perfect for a first night. The guacamole was good and fresh, but I did wonder if I make a better one at home. The remainder of the meal was somewhat unmemorable, but they may have been due to the aforementioned margaritas. Did I mention the shaker could refill your glass three times?
The next morning, we visited the Georgia O'Keeffe museum and then got on the bus to take us to the Wine & Chile Fiesta. This festival is located several miles out of town in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Opera. Four massive tents all serving bites from the best restaurants in town. Next to each restaurant was a vineyard serving several varietals. With the exception of having red wine spilled on my pants (not by me) and my Dad losing his glasses, this was a great event. (Though after attending numerous beer festivals in my life, I had to adjust to the "pacing" concept of a wine festival.)
Night two was the somewhat famous Coyote Cafe. I was a bit leery of this at first since it seemed to be the touristy place to go. Man am I glad I didnt get scared off. It has a modern look to it with an open kitchen, and a trendy feel. And the meal was outstanding. We started with the surf and turf tartare- beef tartare paired with tuna sashimi. The presentation was on this ridiculously long platter that spanned past the edges of the table. Beef on one end, tuna on the other, and the accoutrements in the middle, including a quail egg. My main course was killer as well. Twin mesquite-rubbed lobster tails over pappardelle, served with a spicy, red cream and chile sauce. Wow. If you go here, consider stopping at the rooftop deck for a margarita.
For our last night, we went old school to a restaurant called the Old House. This is located in the El Dorado hotel and is much more white tablecloth/fine dining than Coyote Cafe. Small plates of complimentary salmon mousse to start and cabernet sorbet to cleanse the pallet were nice surprises. This was my big meat night, and I went with the Veal Delmonico, which was served french cut, off the bone. The menu recommends a glass of wine for each entree and we were more than happy to take their recommendation. All in all, this was a great way to end a great trip, as we headed home the next morning.
Labels: Santa Fe