Santa Fe is a proven master at preserving its rich history while managing to continually reinvent itself. Melding the traditional with the contemporary, these prominent recent additions to the urban landscape are sure to enliven your next visit; locals have already adopted them as hot spots.
A Landmark Joint Back in Business
A famous fixture in town since the old Santa Fe Trail days, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon reopened with a bang last September. After a renovation under new ownership, with renowned chef Joseph Wrede at the helm, the buzz surrounding the eatery has grown from anticipation to applause. Chef Wrede first garnered fame for his Taos restaurant, Joseph’s Table, and was recognized by Food & Wine magazine as one of the Best New Chefs of 2000.
Just west of the Plaza, the Palace has a juicy history. The site was originally built around a Burro Alley watering hole run by famous madam and courtesan La Doña Tules, during Santa Fe’s heyday as a carousing gambling hub in the first half of the 19th century. Having been shuttered in recent years, the Palace, newly invigorated, is back. Start with a cocktail in the crimson-velvet-wallpapered saloon, then enjoy a nuanced fusion of New American and modern Italian fare (like New Mexico braised chicken Piemonte with crispy prosciutto), in an ambience that whispers of a bygone era. 142 W. Palace Ave.; (505) 428-0690;www.palacesantafe.com
The New Yoga
Or is it the new Zumba? If you haven’t heard about Nia, chances are that over the course of a few days in Santa Fe, a local denizen will try to talk you into trying it for yourself. If you like to dance and exercise, you’ll be happy you did. Nia is a holistic combination of rudimentary martial arts and dance moves with a rhetorical emphasis on healing. It’s playful, too, and has found a real home in Santa Fe, where free spirits of a certain age are always ready to boogie at the drop of a downbeat. Classes are offered at Body Santa Fe and Santa Fe Spa, and Studio Nia Santa Fe is exclusively devoted to the practice. 851 W. San Mateo Rd.; (505) 989-1299; www.studioniasantafe.com
Chimayó’s Urban Outpost
Occupying another venerable location a stone’s throw from the Plaza, the Hotel Chimayó de Santa Fe is earning attention for its dining and décor, which mine the cultural motherlode that is the historic village of Chimayó, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. After an extensive renovation, the former Hotel Plaza Real is decorated by original works crafted by over 70 Chimayó artists, including vibrant weavings and handmade crosses; a percentage of the hotel’s profits go to the Chimayó Cultural Preservation Association. Be sure to take in the Low ’n Slow Lowrider Bar, decked out in Jack Parsons’s arresting photos of the custom-car counterculture. Upstairs find Tía’s Cocina New Mexican Restauranté, with a menu featuring Chimayó chile, naturally, and items inspired by traditional village dishes, expertly adapted by chef Estevan Garcia. 125 Washington Ave.; (505) 988-4900; www.hotelchimayo.com
Not Just the Usual Gallery Nibbles
You might want to time your Santa Fe visit for February 24–26, 2012, to coincide with the 15th annual ARTFeast, a must for every art-enthusiast/foodie out there. Indulge in an epicurean ramble that includes the Fashion Runway Show, Art of Home Tour, Gourmet Dinner & Auction, and the ever-so-popular Edible Art Tour. Stroll Canyon Road and downtown as you gaze and graze your way through over 30 galleries catered by more than 40 local restaurants. This fun occasion supports ARTsmart, a nonprofit dedicated to funding art programs in Santa Fe public schools. (505) 603-4643; www.artfeast.com
Margaritas and More
There’s a new bar on the block. Eldorado Hotel & Spa’s Agave Lounge boasts premium tequilas as well as signature cocktails, craft beers, affordable wines by the glass, and shared-plate appetizers. A cushy lounge and bar with large tufted-leather banquets, its uptown vibe has been embraced by happy-hour habitués eager for a stylish new hang. 309 W. San Francisco; (505) 995-4545; www.agaveloungesantafe.com
That New-Boot Smell
The sweet aroma of buttery leather permeates Lucchese Boot Co., which recently relocated to a showcase emporium in a 19th-century building on the Plaza. Sure, the ambience could be conjured in a SoHo loft space, but it wouldn’t be the same; this iconic Texas brand seems as perfect a fit in Santa Fe as do these New Mexico boots. The showroom and its wares are curated as carefully as in the neighboring galleries and museums. 57 Old Santa Fe Trail; (505) 820-1883.