319 S. Guadalupe St.%u2028
Heather McKearnan, you’re cut off. You’ve had one too many Best Of Best Bartender awards. Actually, after years of gracefully cutting off overzealous drinkers, pouring foamless beers and booking all kinds of music at Cowgirl, she’s moving on. “I’m really looking to apply skills I’ve learned in bartending to a new career that doesn’t have the late hours; that gets a bit exhausting,” McKearnan tells SFR. In the meantime, the super bartender is going superhero to teach some CrossFit classes at Undisputed Fitness. Wherever she goes, she’ll never forget the lessons that made her a Best Of veteran in her decade at The ’Girl: “multitasking ability, levelheadedness, sociability—you have to really like people—and being able to merge quality and quantity: being really fast and making good drinks, but still making people feel like you have time for them even when you don’t.” She could probably also count modesty on that list. “It’s really important for me to acknowledge the bartenders I work with. I would never get acknowledged by the Reporter if it wasn’t for them.” Cheers.
Cesar Fort, The Matador, 116 W. San Francisco St., Ste. 113
Chris Quintana, The Underground, 200 W. San Francisco St., 982-9014
Best Spot for Happy Hour
319 S. Guadalupe St.%u2028
There’s something oddly sophisticated about happy hour. The concept is a show of both blue- and white-collar camaraderie after a long day working on cars or pushing papers. It’s a heralded cry: “Work sucks, but we’re in this together. At least we can still afford happy hour.” It’s also an excuse to drink earlier in the day and be in bed by 9. Everyone you’ve ever met in Santa Fe, as well as tourists in pursuit of the Wild West through barbecue and brew, can be found at Cowgirl BBQ’s happy hour, poured out across the sprawling porch (what co-owner Nicholas Ballas calls the “existential epicenter” of the city). Ballas chalks up the restaurant’s success to a mix of atmosphere and happy hour specials. “We’re happy people. We get a lot of happy people coming down to spend time with other happy people,” Ballas says. “You can find someone to work on your house; you can find a psychotherapist.” You can even find $3.50 margaritas, $2-to-$3 beers and two-for-one appetizers.
Del Charro Saloon, 101 W. Alameda St., 954-0320
Coyote Café/La Cantina, 132 W. Water St., 983-1615
96-B Old Las Vegas Hwy.
According to Buck Harris, a 13-year employee, this periwinkle-and-turquoise-painted gem off the Old Las Vegas Highway is more daring than it seems. In fact, he compares it to the Star Trek V’Ger because it went out to learn everything and still keeps evolving. This year alone, signs of this evolution include green restaurant status and a hydroponic garden in which the restaurant can grow its own vegetables. Further-off plans include a party room and some kind of retail outlet, as well as expansion. Again and again, the waitstaff cites the customers as their favorite part of the job. Relationships with regulars are of paramount importance, but the staff at Harry’s also loves Santa Fe’s many visitors. According to Michelle Palacio, one of two managers, she loves the tourists “because they’re very honest.” Get over to Harry’s to get on board an otherworldly experience of always inexpensive, often organic and, above all, delicious food.
(Caroline K Gorman)
2. TIE: Cowgirl BBQ, 319 S. Guadalupe St., 982-2565
Tomasita’s, 500 S. Guadalupe St., 983-5721
Tia Sophia’s, 210 W. San Francisco St., 983-9880
Best Hair Salon
301 N. Guadalupe St.
If you suffer from a Samson complex—the idea of someone taking scissors to your locks and possibly zapping your power base makes you weak in the knees—then you need a salon you can trust. Rock Paper Scissor Salonspa is that place. With her New Talent Program, Creative Director Melodie Wyss is able to attract the best stylists but, even then, they stay in training for a year and have to work their way up to the executive designer position. This education-based model ensures that every stylist meets the same high standards. Wyss says that while the salon has a huge focus on color and cut—she is a Vidal Sassoon graduate and has lectured nationwide on hair color—its real strength lies in responding to customer demand and the latest trends, including waxing and different nail techniques. For the coming year, stylists and customers alike look forward to the new Aveda product line. But Rock Paper Scissor isn’t just a business dedicated to looking good. It also cares about doing good and participated in Matter of Trust, which requested human hair stuffed into booms, to sop up some of the oil from the BP oil spill.
Adorn Hair Studio, 1600-D Lena St., 670-0416
Johnny and Jane’s Chop Shop, 317 S. Guadalupe St., 946-2467
Best Local Dentist/Dental Practice
400 Botulph Lane
It’s a good thing there are people who want to be dentists, and an even better thing when those people are as good as the people at Lakind Dental Group. First, in order to soothe the screamers (who often stop being screamers once they get here), the doctors at Lakind use music (iPods provided), pillows, relaxation techniques and a teddy bear (if necessary). Younger patients can even be treated to magic tricks. Expert skill underlies all the compassion. Communication is also key: “We believe in fully educating the people we call patients of what is going on in their mouths,” founder Dr. Leslie Lakind says. All three dentists—Harvey Simon, Rusty Kirkland and Lakind—are continually learning new techniques: prepless veneers, safer bleaching, even the safe removal of mercury fillings. A combination of supreme competence and compassion makes Lakind Dental Group the ideal place to overcome a fear of the dentist.
Smiles of Santa Fe, 1751-B Old Pecos Trail, 988-4448
Jorge Oti DDS, 312 Catron St., 986-0606
Best Tattoo Parlor
825 Topeka St.
The tattoo business is booming for two reasons, according to Four Star Tattoo owner Mark Vigil. The first is that in bad economic times, when a car, a house or even expensive electronics are just unaffordable, a tattoo “is always something that you can do for yourself.” The second reason is the rise of reality television, which has made tattoos more acceptable, although Vigil does blame the term “tramp stamp”—a pop culture invention—for the declining popularity of lower-back tattoos. Whatever the current fad may be, Four Star’s love for tattoos is constant. Of the 11-year-old establishment, Vigil says, “We love tattoos—getting and giving, even looking at them. There’s just a lot of love for tattoos here.” This love translates into patience with squirmy first-timers, constantly evolving designs and a clever open studio plan that allows clients to talk to one another during their sessions (full back tattoos can take 40 hours!). Last year, the studio hosted two guest artists, one from Italy and one from Denmark, and Vigil hopes to feature more in the coming year. Mostly, though, Four Star plans to keep lovingly and skillfully providing tattoos.
Dawn’s Custom Tattoos, 718 St. Francis Drive, 986-0002
Santa Fe Ink/Domain of Pain Inc., 2641-B Cerrillos Road, 316-2303
Best Yoga Studio
333 W. Cordova Road
BODY of Santa Fe continues to excel at getting people to twist themselves into pretzels. Part of this may be the overall vibe of the place: The establishment works very hard on integrating the whole person into a healthy, organic lifestyle, using a spa, a boutique full of organic clothes and a café with raw and organic foods to sweeten the deal. “We just like to keep the public educated,” Marketing Manager Bailey Sachs says, and all these offerings are part of that effort. However, yoga remains the body of BODY. Multiple kinds of yoga are offered, including Kundalini, Ashtanga and Hatha yoga. Another new feature at BODY in the last year is Zumba, a combination dance and workout program. It’s that sort of responsiveness and willingness to try anything in the pursuit of health that makes BODY the place that it is.
YogaSource, 901-Y W. San Mateo Road, 982-0990
Genoveva Chavez Community Center, 3221 Rodeo Road, 955-4000
Best Pilates Studio
83-N Paseo de Peralta
When Raymond Kurshals, founder and director, was asked what had changed in the past year, he gave a reply that encapsulates the magical appeal of Pilates: “We’ve gotten better, our clients have gotten better, taller, more handsome. Everyone’s more beautiful and more fit.” More specifically, the last year has seen the adoption of new detox protocols, a Norwegian Redcord technique to strengthen the core, a magnetic resonance stimulator for jump-starting the body’s cells, as well as laser techniques to increase muscles strength and reduce pain. All this is in addition to a Pilates studio that may be the best in the world—no joke. The studio has just been hired as the certifying school for both Italy and Argentina. For the coming year, Pilates Santa Fe also plans to have more products, including DVDs to help people “live young longer!” Sounds irresistible.
El Gancho Fitness, Swim & Racquet Club, 104 Old Las Vegas Hwy., 988-5000
Pilates Bodies, 7 Caliente Road, Eldorado, 466-3380
Best Place for a Massage
3451 Hyde Park Road
Ascension is what Ten Thousand Waves is all about. First, you have to climb up to its majestic locale atop a hill; and then, once there, every trick in the book is used to help you rise above dirt, wrinkles, poor circulation, stress and all other worldly concerns. “Everything is real—our treatments, our atmosphere, even our wood. And we’re not going to just jump on the latest treatment and give chocolate caviar mud baths,” Spa Director Courtney Morris says. An example of Ten Thousand Waves’ dedication to thoroughness is the Japanese Organic Massage Facial. The new development is a kobido technique that takes two years to learn. Part of the difficulty of the technique is it “involves rhythm; it’s almost like a dance,” according to Operations Manager Melinda Elwell. A more recent addition is the CryoStem Cell Treatment. Yes, it is as science fiction-y as it sounds: It uses stem cell technology to generate new skin growth. The Waves also has a new Ashi-Anma Japanese foot massage treatment in the works, so you’ll literally be relaxed from head to toe.
BODY of Santa Fe, 333 W. Cordova Road, 986-0362
Massage Envy, 3490 Zafarano Drive, 471-3689
Best Gym/Workout Facility
3221 W. Rodeo Road
Whether you’re looking to get ripped, swim some laps, go for a jog or all three in an afternoon, the Genoveva Chavez Community Center has you covered under one roof. The GC3 has state-of-the-art facilities complete with an extensive weight room, massage rooms, five different kinds of yoga and some of the best trainers and massage therapists in Santa Fe. “Of course we’re the best!” Special Projects Administrator Rachel Wexler says. “We offer a class or a workout for everyone, and our teachers are passionate and definitely the best trainers in the city.” In addition to the weekly array of classes, the GC3 is excited to host its special summer events, which include an annual triathlon—for which the center offers training classes and a traditional powwow—at the end of August. Looking to get in the best shape? The best-quality workouts for the most-affordable prices are waiting at the GC3.
Santa Fe Spa, 786 N. St. Francis Drive, 984-8727
Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Ave., 428-1000
Best Auto Repair
1501 Fifth St.
Having a Subaru in this town is just as Santa Fe as getting the Zia symbol tattooed on your forearm, eating green chile and repping the 505. With so many Subarus cruising around, Santa Fe looks like the Southwestern level in Mario Kart. But the mechanics at Mike’s Garage aren’t playing any games, which is why the repair shop is so popular and a repeat Best Of winner. The garage has kept things simple by only servicing Subies and now has a reputation as the best in the hood for under your hood. Its faithful clientele grows larger every year because “we treat them right, and they treat us right,” owner Mike Griego says. “People here are easy to work with, so it’s easy to stay busy.”
2. Alex Safety Lane, 1370 Pacheco St., 983-5577
3. Toy Auto Man, 4774 Airport Road, 983-9463
Best Local Computer Service and Repair
851 St. Michael’s Drive
In 2002, a group of locals got together and opened Dotfoil with the vision of helping out their less tech-savvy neighbors. Eight years later, Dotfoil still delivers great customer service in the friendliest way possible. Although Dotfoil also manages small-business servers and networking solutions, its employees pride themselves on personable service and simplifying the language of computers for individual customers. “We have a lot of really technical knowledge. But the reason we’re so good at what we do is because we can make others understand what is going on with their computer problems,” Manager Paul Quintana says. “The turnaround for computers is really fast, so we are definitely better than the commercial companies, who will ship out the computers for repair.” This business philosophy has worked out well for the company, which just moved into its new and improved location at the Candyman Center, where you can talk to the person who will fix your computer the same day.
Santa Fe Computer Works, 1214 Camino Carlos Rey, Ste. 2, 471-5211
Gremlin Computer Services, 1301 S. St. Francis Drive, 424-1660
Best Bank, Credit Union or Savings and Loan
2009 Galisteo St.,
301 Griffin St.,
3674 Cerrillos Road
When it comes to banks, everyone knows the depiction of the tellers with cartoonish dollar signs in their eyes as people walk into the lobby. In the dog-eat-dog world of the recession, banks often see money before they see an actual person. Los Alamos National Bank strives to change that preconceived notion. “We’re still doing what we’ve always done, which is provide great customer service, and we continue to find ways to prioritize our customers’ convenience,” Vice President Fidel Gutierrez says. The bank also remains active in local charitable causes, and has contributed to the community by making its facilities more sustainable. The newest branch in southwest Santa Fe achieved gold LEED certification, showing the bank’s commitment to the betterment of the community as a whole, regardless of the bill.
First National Bank of Santa Fe, 62 Lincoln Ave. (main branch), 992-2000
Century Bank, 100 S. Federal Place (main branch), 995-1200
Best Local Real Estate Agency
1000 Paseo de Peralta,
320 Paseo de Peralta
The real estate industry can be some tricky business, and is just as topsy-turvy and liable to drastic change as weather in the monsoon season. But Santa Fe Properties is a mighty ship of a real estate agency that is willing to weather the stormy seas to come out into the sun. “Santa Fe is a desirable area and a community with positive press. Having faith in it is one big reason for our success,” qualifying broker Liz Cale says. The company will be keeping the faith for a while and is looking to the horizon for the real estate market here. “There will be positive equity increase here over the next 10 years. We’re excited to continue to be ambassadors of Santa Fe to the outside community,” Cale says. “It’s more than just showing houses. You need to sell the town.” The friendly folk over at Santa Fe Properties won’t take all the credit for their success though; they want the public to know that the best thing about their jobs is that the town sells itself.
Sotheby’s International Realty, 231 Washington Ave., 988-8088
Santa Fe Realty Partners, 417 E. Palace Ave., 982-6207
Best Art Framing
1608 St. Michael’s Drive
Making art is really cool. So is buying and selling it. Helping out artists, art buyers and galleries gives you the best of all art worlds. “One reason we are successful is because we can support the artists and the galleries,” Frontier Frames owner Bill Peterson says. “The goal is to help enhance the art and make it look its best.” Frontier has done this over the years by using the most advanced technology possible, including high-precision saws, wood and matte cutters. Although the economy has cut into art sales as much as any other economic sector, Frontier maintains its satisfying service and commitment to quality. Helping the public with custom framing doesn’t hurt either. “One of the great things about the store is that it’s not a warehouse where no one can see what we’re doing. By having a store front and a great walk-by location, it adds to our quality and service.”
Valdes Picture Frames & Art, 1006 Marquez Place, 982-0017
Artisan, 2601 Cerrillos Road, 954-4179
Best Local Florist
418 Cerrillos Road, Ste. 8
Artichokes and pomegranates are only two of the comestibles that might make their way into an Artichokes and Pomegranates bouquet (picture kumquats and dates peeping around the corners of an arrangement), but somehow the finished product is always a perfect match to the occasion. According to owner Fred Palmer, this is due to attention to detail (including research on the color of drapes in the room and the color of the bride’s hair) and a staff that adores both one another and flowers. Call up and request anything in any sort of language: Request a season, a feeling or even a place (the most common being “make it look like Santa Fe”). However difficult the request, it will soon be translated into a one-of-a-kind arrangement: persimmons and candelabras, dates and amaranthus, and
heliconia flowers and lilies. Even kale, looking oddly like a little green rose, can make an appearance in a bouquet. More waste-conscious consumers (or those who feel the recession and would rather make a more permanent investment) have fallen in love with the silk flower option. The dahlias in particular are so tempting that people are forever sticking their noses into the buds, hoping for a smell of flowers. Whether fake or fresh, flowers is the byword here—absolutely lavished with love, and perfect for either a big event or a small date.
Canyon Road Flowers, 423 Canyon Road, 983-9785
Amanda’s Flowers, 1606 St. Michael’s Drive, 473-9212
Best Local Pet Service
1311 Calle Anaya
Walk into Barks & Bubbles during the middle of the day and you’ll find: three standard poodles plus assorted small dogs on grooming tables, a person for every dog and an absolute wave of laughter. Fun is owner Sherry Barnett’s (“call me the entertainment director; that’s good times”) policy. “I get paid to laugh and play all day. And the dogs pick up on it, on the energy.” Barnett’s policy is “humanity before vanity,” and she tells owners, “I work for this dog, not for you.” A deep and abiding love for animals is underneath all the work—a love so obvious that people fly their dogs in from other states to be looked after by Barks & Bubbles. Despite having over 3,000 clients (dogs, not people), Barks & Bubbles just recently started accepting new clients so, if you have a dog you love and it needs to be groomed or baby-sat, get in there quick. (
TIE: Eldorado Animal Clinic, 20 N. Chamisa Drive, Eldorado, 466-0650
Santa Fe Tails Dog Academy & Daycare, 1005 St. Francis Drive, Ste. 121, 820-0731
Paws Plaza, 1416 Fourth St., 820-7529