The Art and Allure of Santa Fe, New Mexico

by Marlene Shyer
Santa Fe, New Mexico Pueblo Revival

Santa Fe calls itself “The City Different,” and that's just half of it. It's also the city remarkable, and of course, the city cool.

Marlene Fanta Shyer

In a similar price category is Nedra Matteucci (www.matteucci.com). Long established, there’s a different vibe at this gallery, self-described as “Historical Representational Realism.” It means there’s less abstraction and more of the visible West, like Native Americans, landscapes, and horses. There’s a lush garden out back with bronze animal castings
here and there, and a noteworthy Doug Hyde statue called Chrisita standing guard out front.

Gallery-hopping may leave you out of breath. Santa Fe has an altitude of over 7000 feet, and if you’re coming from sea level, you may feel as if you want to slow down and sit for a while. Fortunately, a few steps away on Canyon Road is the Teahouse (www.teahousesantafe.com), but don’t expect a Geisha to serve you. This no-fuss indoor-outdoor café is home to exotic hot and cold teas from every corner of the world, including twelve types of Matcha and eight types of Chai. This funky little place also has a menu that includes salads, paninis, and many dinner choices. Wine, too.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gallery Visitor, 2016. In Sight Foto, Inc. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

After your tea break, head to a pew in one of the churches in the heart of town. San Miguel (www.sanmiguelchapel.org) is the oldest church building still in use in the United States; the original adobe walls were built by the Tlaxcalan Indians in 1610. Paintings around the altar were done by Spanish artists, also of the 17th Century, and have since been restored. Piety or prayer not required.

Nearby is the Loretto Chapel (www.lorettochapel.com), with its mysterious circular staircase, considered a miracle. The chapel was built without the steps it needed to get to its choir loft. No carpenters had the skills to provide them until the nuns sent a prayer to St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters and a stranger appeared on a donkey with tools at the ready and offered to build the steps. Offer accepted, he completed the remarkable staircase in a few weeks. The carpenter did not ask for payment and in fact, disappeared immediately after finishing the job. He was given neither pay nor thanks and was never heard from again. There are just 33 steps, and some think it’s no coincidence that Christ died when he was 33. These days, although the stairs are not used except for special occasions, tourists come to admire the work and pray in the chapel.

The city of Santa Fe is also of interest to foodies. One of the oldest places to grab a bite of the sort that really has a bite, is Maria’s (www.marias-santafe.com). It’s a no-tablecloth paper-napkin kind of place, friendly, often packed, and has been feeding locals and tourists for the last seventy years. There should be a warning at every seat: “Beware the Green Chile Stew.” That fiery dish is, of course, the most popular. Prices are reasonable here and the Margaritas come in many flavors. Make a res to skip the line.

Doug Hyde, Crisita - Santa Fe

Doug Hyde, Crisita
Photo: Nedra Matteucci Galleries

For true Margarita aficionados, Santa Fe has also created a three-dollar Margarita Trail Passport (www.santafe.org/margaritatrail). With it, thirty-one lounges, bars, restaurants, and saloons offer a dollar discount off the price of their special Margaritas; each drink gets a stamp in the Passport, and after five stamps, congratulations, a commemorative T-shirt is yours. More Margaritas, more prizes, but you must be at least twenty-one to participate.

Moving on from typical New Mexican eats and drinks, head to the Terracotta Wine Bistro (www.terracottawinebistro.com). Three creative, innovative women have put their heads, talents, and hearts together. Their restaurant earns stars not only for the kitchen, but for the stylish ambience as well. Delectable and different are four generous Bruschettas to order as either lunch or dinner, or choose from a varied entree list. Pprices range from $16 to $28, and of the desserts, the Chocolate Silk pie is one way to go. It takes two hours to make, and is heaven. The restaurant also offers the largest selection of wines by the glass in Santa Fe and it’s just $6 a glass before 6 P.M.

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