Best of Santa Fe 2022 - Local Living

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Best New Book by a New Mexico Author

1. Tony Hillerman: A Life, by James McGrath Morris

Santa Fe-based biographer James McGrath Morris’ sixth book of nonfiction paints a portrait of mystery giant Tony Hillerman, whose series set on the Navajo Nation made him one of New Mexico’s most acclaimed novelists. McGrath Morris’ well-rounded depiction of Hillerman’s life and literary legacy is a treat for die-hard fans and newcomers alike.

2. Send a Runner: A Navajo Honors the Long Walk, by Nolan Eskeets and Jim Kristofic

The summer of 2018 marked the 150th anniversary of the Diné people’s return to their homelands after the Long Walk, a forced removal to a military-controlled reservation in New Mexico. In honor of that anniversary, Edison Eskeets and his family organized a ceremonial run from Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, to Santa Fe. Send a Runner details the choice to honor their ancestors through the power of running and storytelling.

3. Lifesaving Gratitude: How Gratitude Helped Me Beat Stage IV Cancer, by Bunny Terry

Bunny Terry grew up on a farm in northeastern New Mexico, and wrote her first stories on index cards using her family’s Underwood. Now, she’s the author of Lifesaving Gratitude, which tells the story of how Terry survived cancer with realism and good humor.

Best Business: Cerrillos Road

1. Jambo Café

A perennial favorite, Jambo is so beloved that it’s almost sacrilegious not to adore it. Chef Ahmed Obo serves up delicious Afro-Caribbean fare that wins award after award. The restaurant unpretentious spot in a strip mall on Cerrillos has tons of free parking, too. We all love Jambo, so if you’re ever stuck for a last minute present, pick up a gift card, it will be appreciated.

2010 Cerrillos Road, (505) 473-1269

2. El Parasol

This family business deserves its loyal following: El Parasol’s first Santa Fe location on Cerrillos is a longtime favorite of locals and tourists alike. The chicharrón burrito is a crispity-crunchity dream, and the green chile cheese burgers are on the state burger trail.

1833 Cerrillos Road, (505) 995-8015

3. Artisan

Artisan placed first in Best Craft Store, and it’s no surprise. The shop has been supplying and inspiring Santa Fe artists since 1975. Even if your artistic skill is more in the realm of deftly-wrought stick figures, you’ll still love wandering the aisles and picking out supplies.

2601 Cerrillos Road, (505) 954-4179

Best Business: Downtown

1. Collected Works

Collected Works is proud of its position as Santa Fe’s oldest bookseller, and its loyal customers are proud to call it their favorite literary haunt. The writing community loves all the signings, readings and discussions in addition to the books and book-related baubles. The coffee is pretty good, too, and it’s a cozy place to hang out on a rainy summer afternoon or chilly winter day.

202 Galisteo St., (505) 988-4226

2. Doodlet’s

The go-to spot for trinkets and kitsch, Doodlet’s is a teeny-tiny treasure on the corner of Water Street and Don Gaspar. If you’re shopping for a last-minute gift, looking to indulge your inner child or just killing time, Doodlet’s will do the trick.

120 Don Gaspar Ave., (505) 983-3771

3. La Fonda on the Plaza

What would the Plaza be without La Fonda as its cornerstone? Whether for a vacation, staycation or just a drink at the rooftop bar, La Fonda is classic Santa Fe. The shops, spa and restaurant are favorites, too.

100 E San Francisco St., (505) 982-5511

Best Business: Eldorado

1. Cafe Fina

This gas station turned eatery is fuel for the body and the spirit. Bright and airy with lots of windows and a nice outdoor seating area, stop in for a leisurely brunch or enchilada feast (we love the squash enchiladas for a vegetarian option). If you don’t have time for a full-on feast, don’t miss the drive-thru for a top-notch cup of coffee.

624 Old Las Vegas Hwy. (505) 466-3886

2. Santa Fe Brewing Company Eldorado Taphouse

Eldorado loves its taphouse. No need to drive all the way into town to watch a game and have a beer, the kind folks at the Santa Fe Brewing Co. have brought an array of their locally-made brews to Eldo and we love them for it.

7 Caliente Road, Ste. A9, (505) 466-6938

3. Upper Crust Pizza

What’s more comforting than an ooey gooey cheesy pizza? Not much, especially if it’s one of Upper Crust’s tried-and-true pies. Beloved since 1979 when they were the first pizza place in Santa Fe to offer a whole wheat crust, it’s still a perennial favorite.

5 Colina Drive, (505) 471-1111

Santa Fe Farmers' Market
Santa Fe Farmers' Market (Kelli Johansen/)

Best Business: Railyard/Guadalupe District

1. Santa Fe Farmers Market

A delight for the senses, the Farmers Market is a year-round Saturday morning destination for locals. It’s not uncommon to have favorite vendors you visit loyally, changing your week’s menu plan to fit the fresh, nutrient-rich produce they have each week. And they double SNAP benefits. It’s a great family outing before cooking up a delicious weekend lunch.

1607 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 983-4098

2. Violet Crown Cinema

With wall-to-wall screens and digital surround sound, Violet Crown is a cinephile’s dream. The theater also offers a wide selection of nibbles, wine, beer and cider—not just popcorn and Coke. The theater is also available for event rentals and sports an outdoor patio with a view of the Railyard Plaza.

1606 Alcaldesa St., (505) 216-5678

3. Tomasita’s

Who hasn’t walked past Tomasita’s and found themselves craving a steaming, plate of enchiladas with lots of cheese and onion and a guacamole salad? Was Lyle Lovett inspired by this Santa Fe eatery in “This Old Porch”? We don’t know.

500 S Guadalupe St., (505) 983-5721

Best Business: Rufina/Siler Road Corridor

1. . Big Jo True Value

Big Jo has held a special place in the hearts of Santa Fe’s handy folks for more than 75 years, and we hope it’ll be there for us in 75 more. You won’t have to chase down the staff to ask questions here; it’s actually pleasant and useful to discuss your project and be guided to just what you need.

1311 Siler Road, (505) 473-2255

2. Meow Wolf

Got visitors to show around town? You’re going to end up at Meow Wolf for sure. Everyone wants a peek at this highly publicized art installation, full of twists, turns and new things to notice. For those of us still mourning the old bowling alley, you can visit the same old super-’90s carpet, too.

1352 Rufina Circle, (505) 395-6369

3. Second Street Brewery Rufina

The third Second Street has become one of two in town now, but this location has everything the old one did and then some, like space and parking. An ice cold beer or cider pulled from the tap hits the spot on these hot summer days, and loyal customers are sure that they’re just as tasty on the cold days of winter as well.

2920 Rufina St., (505) 954-1068

Best Business: Southside

1. Plaza Café Southside

All the joy of the Plaza Cafe without fighting for a downtown parking spot. That alone is enough to endear this Southside eatery to those of us with limited patience for the downtown parking situation, and the food’s great, too. Made from scratch and based on recipes that have been handed down for generations, every plate is a mouth watering delight.

3466 Zafarano Drive, (505) 424-0755

2. Java Joe’s

A staple of Rodeo Road since 2002, Java Joe’s is the standby coffee spot for lots of Southsiders. Reasonable prices and locally roasted beans keep the caffeinated coming in for a jolt to go or a leisurely latte with friends. The Rodeo location is open every day, and its newer location on Siler Road is open every day but Sunday.

2801 Rodeo Road, (505) 474-5282; 1248 Siler Road, (505) 930-5763

3. The Cat

Voted Santa Fe’s best resale store four years and counting, The Cat is a guilt-free shopping experience: All proceeds go to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. Shop or donate used items and help out furry friends in the process. If you’re not up for in-person shopping just yet, The Cat offers virtual browsing options on its website.

3546 Zafarano Drive, (505) 780-8975

Best Business: St. Michael’s Drive/Triangle District

1. The Candyman Strings & Things

Locals know there’s no candy at Candyman, but musicians behave just like kids in a candy shop when they visit this music and more store. From lessons to equipment rental and repairs, this is a full-service music shop with some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff around. And you never know when you’ll come upon a talented musician having an impromptu jam session on one of their many quality instruments.

851 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 983-5906

2. The Firebird

Not just for woodstoves anymore, The Firebird has irrigation implements, landscaping lighting and other outdoor offerings. If you’re looking for cozy or cooling, you’ll find it here.

1808 Espinacitas St., (505) 983-5264

3. Oculus Optical

A family-run private practice, Botwin Eye Group offers comprehensive eye exams for adults and kids. Oculus Optical is their boutique for artful eyewear, and browsing these unique frames makes going to the eye doctor a little bit more fun. Visit their downtown location on Water Street, too.

444 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 438-2020

Best Business: Westside/Alameda/Agua Fria

1. Tune-Up Café

From the tribute Dave’s burger to the house-made desserts, Tune-Up Cafe woos diners into coming back again and again. Open breakfast through dinner, this can be your go-to spot any time of day, and for brunch on weekends. Their mole enchiladas are a tasty twist on the classic red chile version and the wine list and sake cocktails aren’t bad either.

1115 Hickox St., (505) 983-7060

2. Agua Fría Nursery

No GMOs here. Want to do your part in your own home and yard for keeping our planet alive? Agua Fria Nursery has been in the business of getting dirty one sustainable garden at a time since 1975, and we love them for it.

1409 Agua Fría St., (505) 983-4831

3. Plants of the Southwest

Walking around the Plants of the Southwest property is aspirational for any gardener. It’s nearly impossible to visit without going home with new ideas for your own little patch of paradise.

3095 Agua Fría St., (505) 438-8888

Best Golf Course

1. Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe

Marty Sanchez Links, the people’s golf course! No need to join a club, just pay the reasonable rates by the round at this facility maintained by the City of Santa Fe at the Municipal Recreation Complex. And it costs just a bit more for out-of-state golfers, which pleases us somewhat. Great views with great exercise, if you skip the golf cart.

205 Caja del Rio Road, (505) 955-4400

2. Santa Fe Country Club

The classic, with a cool pool and clubhouse for après golf fun. Not that the golf isn’t fun enough, but for those family members who haven’t caught the obsession, there’s still plenty to do.

3950 Country Club Road, (505) 471-0601

3. Buffalo Thunder Towa Golf Club

This course boasts not 9, not 18, but 27 holes. You probably can’t, and may not want to play all at once, but what a plethora of choices here at this strikingly lush course against the backdrop of Pojoaque’s rolling piñon- and juniper-studded hills.

20 Buffalo Thunder Trail, (505) 455-9000

Best New Business

1. Sky Railway

Missing the old train set you had as a kid? Wishing you could have been Sir Topham Hat, chatting with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends? Hop aboard Sky Railway in the Railyard and live out your childhood dream of riding an elegant train to a dusty outpost. If you’re lucky (and book the right trip), there might be some Wild West cowboys along the way. Many of Sky’s trips include drinks, food and live music.

410 S Guadalupe St., (844) 743-3759

2. Pushpin Collaborative Co.

Artful greeting cards and gifts, by local and farther afield American artists. The shop offers workshops as well, so you can become the artist who makes all your own gifts.

1925 Rosina St., Ste. D, (505) 372-7728

3. Atalaya Outfitters

Upcycled outdoor gear for the wanderer and adventurer who would rather not feed the corporate monster. You can find plenty of name brand goods at online-only Atalaya Outfitters at less than the brand new price, and maybe save a serviceable piece of gear from the landfill.

(505) 819-3615

The Food Depot
The Food Depot (Shelby Wyatt/)

Best Nonprofit

1. The Food Depot

For nearly 20 years, The Food Depot has been providing much needed nutrition to nine New Mexico counties. They’re not into making people jump through hoops to get the food they need; this organization just wants to feed as many hungry people as possible. It even has a mobile food pantry to help alleviate need in food deserts in isolated communities. If you can’t volunteer, donations are happily accepted!

1222 A Siler Road, (505) 471-1633

2. Kitchen Angels

If your health makes you unable to get out to pick up groceries and cook, Kitchen Angels will bring beautiful, lovingly prepared meals to your door. This is no subpar cafeteria cooking, these meals can rival the gourmet fare found at many of Santa Fe’s tasty restaurants.

1222 Siler Road, (505) 471-7780

3. Esperanza Shelter

Since 1976, Esperanza Shelter has been serving people in domestic violence situations. Its many trauma-informed services can help clients safely turn their lives around in a supportive environment.

3130 Rufina St., (505) 474-5536

Best Nonprofit for the Environment

1. Audubon Southwest

A relatively new program that kicked off in 2020, Audubon Southwest is a collaboration between New Mexico and Arizona bringing together biologists, hydrologists, policy experts and educators to continue the work of bird and land conservation. The organization centers conservation and land use issues as a matter of social justice, and are active in efforts to improve the state of the environment for all of us.

1800 Upper Canyon Road, (505) 983-4609

2. Santa Fe Botanical Garden

Not so very long ago, Museum Hill was bereft of the botanical garden and bordered instead by sandy arroyos. Now the readers’ choice for Best Nonprofit for the Environment has opened its third developed phase, the Piñon-Juniper Woodland. Fruit trees are bearing, a larger gift shop and office have been installed and the community is getting more education, more art and more plant-loving good times.

725 Camino Lejo, (505) 471-9103

3. Reunity Resources

Got dirt? So does Reunity, and it’s probably better than yours. Local stars of composting, they pick up food waste from homes and restaurants and spin it into gold. Their colorful farm stand produce is grown with it, and you can buy some to perk up your own home vegetable garden.

1829 San Ysidro Crossing, (505) 393-1196

Best Outdoor Trail

1. Dale Ball Trails

Trails that have something for any hiker, the Dale Ball Trail system is a nearly 25-mile network of unpaved trails for hikers and bicyclists right in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The trails have a lot going for them—convenient location close to the downtown area, stunning views and a variety of terrain for a leisurely stroll or for working up a sweat.

2. Galisteo Basin Trails

Galisteo Basin, owned and maintained by the Commonweal Conservancy, is a favorite for hikers, bikers and horseback riders alike. Miles of trails just west of Lamy offer something for everyone—you can do a quick loop or an all-day trek, and you’re sure to find a scenic overlook either way. Stay hydrated!

3. Winsor

A great trail just below the ski basin, Winsor can be a manageable loop for families or a dog walk. But watch out for the cow pies in the spring and summer—how cool and refreshing they look to a panting dog, but the drive down the mountain afterwards will be odiferous indeed. If you want to revel in autumnal splendor but don’t love the crowds at Aspen Vista in September and October, Winsor is a more serene option.

Best Park

1. Santa Fe Railyard Park

This sprawling, award-winning 11-acre park bordered by Cerrillos and Paseo is the Railyard’s nature haven, with its own nonprofit supporters in the Railyard Park Conservancy. Stop to smell the roses, pick some apricots or catch an outdoor movie on the big screen during the summer movie series. Check out the community vegetable garden. Maybe there’s a plot in it for you.

Railyard Park Conservancy, 805 Early St., (505) 316-3596

2. Rose Park (Cornell Park)

A gathering place for locals of all ages, whether the roses are in bloom or not. This year they’re well worth a visit. You’ll find toddlers learning to walk, teenagers hanging out, young folks slacklining, older folks walking dogs and people of all ages on lunch breaks. This pocket park is an oasis in the city.

1320 Galisteo Parkway

3. Fort Marcy Park

Whether to send your gloom up in flames at Zozobra, catch a ball game with the Santa Fe Fuego or just walk your dog, Fort Marcy Park is a longtime favorite. Find tennis courts, a baseball field, a playground for the kids and a dog park for the fur children.

490 Bishops Lodge Road

Best Place to Work

1. The Food Depot

What feels better than getting up and making sure families have access to nutritious and delicious food? Not much, say those who work at The Food Depot. The ripple effects of the pandemic meant left many New Mexicans facing food insecurity in 2021, so they’re important work.

1222 Siler Road A, (505) 471-1633

2. The Candyman Strings & Things

Candyman loves its employees and the employees love them right back. A fun, creative, interactive work environment that keeps your toes tapping and your heart singing.

851 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 983-5906

3. State Employees Credit Union

With great benefits and a friendly atmosphere, the State Employees Credit Union is a top choice for the financially minded job seeker in Santa Fe.

813 St. Michael’s Drive (800) 983-7328

Best Public Servant

1. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

For the third year running, readers have named Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham the best in this category. Before she became governor, Lujan Grisham was county commissioner, state cabinet secretary and then US congresswoman, among other service jobs. She served as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association for 2021 and is seeking re-election to the state’s top job next year.

2. Councilor Signe Lindell

Now in her third term, Signe Lindell has been a Santa Fe favorite for years. Councilor Lindell currently serves as Mayor Pro Tempore and is a member of the Finance Committee and other committees.

3. Councilor Renee Villarreal

Community advocate Renee Villarrael has been a Santa Fe city councilor since 2016, active in local events and debate and representing born and raised Santa Feans as well as everyone else in her district.

Best Senior Living

1. The Montecito Santa Fe

There’s plenty to do at The Montecito. This resort-style senior living community keeps people busy and bustling. With its own salon and spa, fitness center and restaurant, there’s more than enough to keep residents active, engaged and having fun all year round.

500 Rodeo Road, (505) 428-7777

2. El Castillo

Nestled in the heart of downtown, El Castillo has been a favorite since 1971. Excellent staff, luxurious amenities, and a can’t-be-beat location makes independent living worry-free. The campus has a heated outdoor pool, walking trails, a beauty salon and more. Everything the downtown area has to offer is just footsteps away.

250 E Alameda St., (505) 988-2877

3. Kingston Residence of Santa Fe

Kingston is the Southside’s favorite assisted living community, offering access to walking trails, shopping, dining and glorious views. The facility also offers independent living situations for older adults who want just a bit of help around the house. With 24-hour nursing staff on site, Kingston is a safe bet.

2400 Legacy Court, (505) 501-7410