We take the Best of Santa Fe poll very seriously. So, when the dust clears from the vote tabulation, we take the time to point out some details about life in Santa Fe that don’t make the contest. And that we maybe are not that serious about.
SFR's editorial staff combs the county to deliver these highlights (and lowlights) of what and who is happening since the last time the earth circled the sun. It's been quite a year. You won't find any references to the Drumpf or the governor. We're all so tired of making fun of them—but in case you missed Santa Fe's mayor portrayed by our art director as an angel this year, you can see a recap below. We're also proud to point out some hardworking Santa Feans who don't quite get the credit they deserve, where you can read about the tireless manager of the Violet Crown, who we have actually seen wiping down tables and serving popcorn like a boss!
Our food and drinks coverage are our most-read features, and we're already working on the October release of our annual Restaurant Guide, but we've thrown a few things in a reusable shopping bag here to tide you over until dinner. Eat breakfast with a peacock and slather your burger with too many sauces per our suggestions about what to eat n' sip.
We raise our Walter White Margarita to you and to these, the very best ... ish.
Contributing writers: Maria Egolf-Romero, Aaron Cantú,
Charlotte Jusinski Alex De Vore, Matt Grubs, Julie Ann Grimm
Illustrations by Anson Stevens-Bollen
BEST stylish Santa Fean who will make you drool over her turquoise and wardrobe in general
Santa Fe style gets a bad, clichéd rap—think glittery cowboy boots and clashing Pendleton patterns. But really, our city is a hotbed of beautiful textiles and authentic jewelry and has some flabbergastingly fashionable octogenarians, as well as some younger high-desert citizens who most certainly know what is up. A prime example of Santa Fe fashion gone oh-so-right: Zoila Cleaver.
Seeing Cleaver is kind of like seeing a unicorn. She wears Navajo pearls and broom skirts in a way that's not even a little bit reminiscent of overplayed Western ads. You kind of wonder where her magic comes from. And, to top off her awesomeness, she works at Shiprock Santa Fe (53 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-8478), a church for lovers of a minimal Southwestern aesthetic. And somehow, even amongst troves of vintage turquoise, Cleaver's fabulousness stands out. The one thing in her closet she couldn't live without? "My collection of Native American and Mexican jewelry," she tells SFR.
This fashionable gal gets it (partially) from her mama, whom Cleaver says is her style icon. "She has always been incredibly creative and adventurous and not willing to follow any sort of trends," she says. Barbara Cleaver is an Indigenous textile expert who recently lectured about Frida Kahlo's wardrobe in conjunction with the Mirror, Mirror exhibit at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts. This (along with spending part of her upbringing in Oaxaca "looking at antiques and tracking down rare textiles") may explain Zoila's effortless eclectic elegance. Thanks for being so inspiring with your clothing choices, Zoila—we want to be just like you when we grow up. (Maria Egolf-Romero)
BEST tireless woman who started a local record label
Eliza Lutz of Matron Records
Running a music label isn't what it used to be. While owners in ye olden days may have concentrated on selling the music, independent labels today function more as hype machines for artists, doing graphic design, online promotion and partnering with local businesses for branded content. Eliza Lutz's Matron Records, which she started about a year and a half ago after quitting her job at a coffee shop, has signed on local bands that were already fairly self-sufficient but could have used a, well, matron to help them tie it all together. She says the smallness of Santa Fe creates some unique challenges but also allows for a tighter-knit scene that avoids the genre subdivisions you see in larger cities. Three Matron bands—Chicharra, Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand and PSIRENS—have albums coming out in the next few months, so be on the lookout. (Aaron Cantú)
BEST superhero who appears whenever you need him, like when you get caught onstage without pants
Michael Blake Oldham, technical director, Santa Fe Playhouse
142 E De Vargas St., 988-4262
Dig, if you will, the picture: You are an actor in a community theater production. As is scripted, you come onstage for a performance in your underwear. Your pants are supposed to be pre-set on a bed onstage. Halfway through the first scene, you realize there are no pants. They were forgotten. You remain pantsless as the play progresses. There's no easy way to get offstage any time soon. What do you do?
If you are at the Santa Fe Playhouse, all you need to do is peek into the wings. Technical Director Michael Blake Oldham, while running the lights, will have seen the error, descended the ladder from the tech booth, sprinted through the lobby, run around the outside of the theater, come in the backstage door, found the pants, crept behind the set, and will be waiting slightly offstage for you, khakis in hand. Make it look natural when you dip into the wings, take the pants, continue your show—and Oldham will return to the booth in time for the next light cue.
This is an actual thing that happened, and only one thing in an endless string of actual things that happen when Oldham is in the Playhouse. An actor, a musician and a backstage jack-of-all-trades, Oldham memorizes every last detail of a production, and has an impeccable ability to make things right on the fly. From building sets to conducting firearms safety training to just being a damn nice guy, Oldham is just the kind of behind-the-scenes superhero that every theater needs. (Charlotte Jusinski)
BEST local guy who cuts sick hairs and also you can talk to him about punk rock and girls and stuff
Collin Lee Scott at Wild Hare Salon
418 Montezuma Ave., 988-1925
The situation was bleak and time was running out: My hair looked dumb. Dumber than usual, anyway. But what to do last-minute? How would I proceed? Luck, my friends, was on my side that day, and Wild Hare Salon's Collin Lee Scott came to my rescue. "I can squeeze you in," he said via Facebook messenger in reply to my "Please, God, someone cut my hairs!" post. And later that day, I was in his chair. Scott embodies this ethereal combination of ultra-pleasant presence and skilled hair-handler; the shampoo experience was fantastic, the coif was perfect, he can trim a beard with precision (much harder to do than you'd think) and, almost best of all, he has killer music taste and is wise in the ways of the world. In fact, you've probably seen Scott at countless local shows, from the bigger venues to the DIY storage-unit spaces, supporting the scene and absorbing all he can. That's serious effort and commendable all on its own, but the bonus here is that he's also kicking out sick 'dos ($40-60 for men and $50-75 for women) and bringing those killer conversation skills. Make an appointment immediately, those in need. You won't regret it. (Alex De Vore)
BEST movie theater manager
Peter Grendle at Violet Crown Cinema
1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678
Drinking beer is good. So is watching movies on a large screen. So is eating. All of them combined make for a pleasantly hedonistic experience you can enjoy just by wandering on over to Violet Crown Cinema in the Railyard. The theater services a wide range of clientele, and manager Peter Grendle says his staff goes out of its way to make it so. For example, he offers the theater for free to schools that want to bring students on early-morning field trips, and also shows a variety of films throughout the day and night to appeal to all kinds of crowds. That flexibility makes Violet Crown a mix of a multiplex and an art house, Grendle says. Recently it started a series where local organizations friendly with the theater pick a “guilty pleasure” film for the public to view on the big screen (SFR took part in June, and culture editor Alex De Vore’s no-brainer choice was 2012’s
). It continues tonight (July 26) with screenwriter Kirk Ellis’ pick,
. Grendle and the VC also begin the
Summer in Paris
series on Tuesday Aug. 1, a month-long celebration featuring eight French films. (AC)
BEST Internet Troll because Capital Letters and anger are still Cool to spew on Corporate Media websites!
Tie: Harvey Mushman (SFReporter.com) and Maria Piernavieja (Facebook)
SFR has some lively online commenters, and two in particular have become our favorites.
Harvey* (not his real name), whose account at SFReporter.com had posted 1,250 comments as of July 25, intensely despises our "leftist" staff and thinks Santa Feans are "pathetic and childish." He also wants a Heterosexual Pride Parade. He makes fun of writers' names he deems abnormal. Pretty sure he called us "libtards" once. Absolutely nothing is beyond his ire. (Except maybe the Rose Park. He didn't comment on that story.)
Why does someone whose IP address pings him in another state so loyally read SFR, so strongly disagree with every word we say and so vehemently hate every subject we write about? The world may never know; in January 2017, former SFR staff writer Steven Hsieh invited Harvey to be interviewed for our "3 Questions" feature. Harvey declined, wishing to maintain safe anonymity.
On the Facebook front, we have Maria* (also not her real name). Maria's comments are always long, full of randomly capitalized words from which we can't really determine a pattern and brimming with vitriol about what she often calls the "Corporate Media." (We think that's us.)
A common complaint of hers is that we don't cover what we cover. For example, in the comments section about a story about marshmallows, Maria would likely say: "Typical Santa Fe. The Corporate Media never writes about Marshmallows Because of its Corporate Interests in Tourism and advertising Revenues." Mmkay.
Maria once spat that we only publish letters to the editor that go along with our views, and that any letter expressing dissent is "thrown out." Since I am the individual who puts together the Letters page each week, I was suddenly a little nervous that Maria was a mole, hovering around SFR's office, looking over my shoulder. But then, a calming thought: I don't fucking throw away letters to the editor. It's not even a thing. My god, Maria, if you're gonna bitch at us, at least bitch about something that we actually do. Sheesh.
SFR has many readers and many commenters and we appreciate every last one of you. Even trolls need to be fed at times, so have these scraps. (CJ)
BEST group of underdogs who probably need haircuts but definitely have small-town pride
Madrid Miners softball team
It's a source of local pride that Madrid, New Mexico, was home to the first lighted ballpark west of the Mississippi. When the town was owned by General Electric in its coal mining days (think 1920s), the minor-league Madrid Miners baseball team was a feeder team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the ballpark was the place to be on summer evenings.
After recent reconstruction and revitalization, with help from the Madrid Cultural Projects and a 2016 Power Up grant from PNM, the historic Oscar Huber Memorial Ballpark is the perfect home for the current Madrid Miners softball teams.
The mens adult, co-ed adult, and co-ed kids teams are totally made up of folks from the Madrid metropolitan area (the 2010 census clocked the population at 204). The team's annual Memorial Day game against the East Mountain Riff Raff, in its 35th iteration, was again a bust—but it's all good.
"We've never won. We've come close a couple times," says Dale McDonnell, coach of the co-ed team, of the Memorial Day match. "If we lose, we party after the game. If we win—well, I don't know what we'll do."
In June, Madrid also hosted a two-day mens tournament with nine teams from Santa Fe and Albuquerque. "Hopefully we'll someday have a co-ed tournament," McDonnell adds. "We thought we'd have a hard time getting enough women to play, but once we put the word out, the women came out of the woodwork."
This year's season ended July 10, but the co-ed team is rarin' to go for a possible fall league in August and September,too. It can only get better from here, baby.
Follow their Facebook page to keep up: facebook.com/madridminers. (CJ)
BEST curator who doesn’t quite get the credit she deserves
Angie Rizzo at the Center for Contemporary Arts
1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338
Rent is expensive in SF, but not nearly as much as the other SF … as in, San Francisco. Angie Rizzo, the visual arts curator at the Center for Contemporary Arts, moved to Santa Fe after she and her friends could no longer afford to maintain the small gallery space she helped run in the Bay Area. Now, she's been here three years, shepherding artists who take big risks and try new things. She's one of the people responsible for filling the Muñoz Waxman Gallery and the smaller gallery between the two movie theaters. Multiple sources report that Rizzo indeed works her ass off to help her artists put on the best show possible, and while the CCA has a loyal trickle of visitors, we can only hope that more folks turn out to check out the work. So make Angie happy and drop by pronto. (AC)
BEST place to spot Mayor Javier Gonzales
A conference of visionaries in New York City
Oh, Javier. Ye of eternal vision. Just what are you gazing at in all those photos? It’s the future, of course. And it starts with a flight to the coast.
The mayor has traveled to and fro since taking office in 2014, including trips to Paris and England, New York and Miami Beach. He's not shy about posting photos of his official travels to his social media accounts, where you can see him mugging with AOL co-founder Steve Case at SXSW in Austin or delivering remarks at the International LGBT Leaders Conference in Washington, DC.
If it's official travel, taxpayers are often picking up at least part of the cost. Whether that investment translates into Santa Fe being seen as a city on the rise is yet to be determined. This kind of spending often doesn't yield immediate results.
In Hizzoner's defense, some of his travel stems from Santa Fe's higher-than-normal profile among cities its size. People love to visit, everyone knows we're cool and they want to know why. A more likely contributing travel factor is that the City Council cannot stop itself—no matter who is sitting on it—from passing leading-edge legislation like the city's living wage ordinance or from sounding off on notable issues like the Dakota Access Pipeline, national parks and mineral leases. When you get noticed, you get invited places. Javier's the one to go. (Matt Grubs)
BEST waste of $4 million we could’ve used for something other than dividing the community
Sugary-drink tax election
If somebody came up to you on the street and offered you $4 million for pre-kindergarten programs, but added the caveat that you can’t spend it on pre-K itself, only advertising, you’d think they were nuts. You’d think, dare we say it: “There has to be a better way.”
Well, that's basically what happened in May as almost 40 percent of registered voters (that's a lot for a city election) showed up to put the kibosh on a proposed 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages. It would have provided enough money, Mayor Javier Gonzales said, for 966 seats in high-quality pre-K programs every year.
Enter Michael Bloomberg and the American Beverage Association. The pair of out-of-state moneybags deluged Santa Fe with campaign dollars. In the end, Big Soda outspent Bloomberg and company in its victorious effort. Then it and its consultants found a better way out of town. Santa Fe will have to figure out some other plan to expand its early childhood education programs.
The estimated cost to grow pre-K by nearly 1,000 seats was north of $7 million, so it's not as though all that campaign cash would have done a ton of good, but it might have been better spent on something other than a really loud argument. (MG)
BEST place to laugh at that poor schmuck who just got dinged for speeding ... right before you get dinged for speeding
It’s also known as the Veterans Memorial Highway and could well be known as the Low Insurance Rates Memorial Highway. This is the place for cops looking to scratch their ticket itch, and things can get pretty itchy.
"It's turned into regular duty for us," says Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Greg Gurule. He tells SFR some bad crashes at the road's notorious at-grade crossings have made it a department priority since the beginning of the year. "We even assign overtime [patrols] to it to maintain a presence on a continuing basis."
All three local agencies—city police, the county sheriff and staters—aggressively patrol the wide-open, 55-mph road you think should be an interstate. In the three-month span that ended in June, New Mexico State Police alone wrote 523 speeding tickets on this stretch. (MG)
BEST current trend Santa Feans have always rocked
Kimonos and robes
From Star Wars-esque wraps to embroidered kimonos, light outer layers are prevalent on runways in 2017 fashion publications. But they've always made appearances on the streets of Santa Fe. In fact, one of the most famous locals of all time, Georgia O'Keeffe, is a prime example of an outer-layer queen. She donned wrap-like dresses and monotone minimal outfits paired with open robe-like jackets on the regular. You'll find them in shop windows around town, including Origins (209 Galisteo St., 988-2323) and even gracing walls as decorations at Ten Thousand Waves (21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304), plus there's a rack of vintage takes in a back room at Stephen's Consignment Gallery (2701 Cerrillos Road, 471-0802). Whether it's embroidered, silk, linen, Chinese-inspired or Mexican, Santa Feans will always love and rock a good kimono. Bravo, folks, we were ahead of a trend for maybe the first time in history. (MER)
BEST thing we’ve ever seen in a shop window
This massive sterling silver and gold kachina bolo tie
Simply Southwest Trading Post,
84 E San Francisco St., 983-6165
Navajo silversmith Tommy Singer died in 2014, but pieces he created during his many decades as an artist can still be found all over Santa Fe. One such glinty bauble caught our eye while walking on the Plaza one recent afternoon, and though we know we could never personally pull it off, we still hope we’ll one day see someone sporting it. This is no ordinary bolo, friends; it’s a nearly foot-tall silver and 14K gold kachina oozing with style and detail and perfect for anything from a night at the Native Treasures benefit to afternoons perusing Indian Market. The salesman at Simply Southwest Trading Post tells us that silver and gold were specialties of Singer’s, and estimates a $10,000-plus price tag for this specific piece.
We're writers, which means we've basically taken a vow of poverty. For those with means, however, you simply cannot go wrong dropping a few bucks on such a gorgeous and intricate work of art. (ADV)
BEST way to get a tourist lost
Give them directions to Museum Hill
This isn't so much the fault of the tourist as it is a reflection of Santa Fe's propensity to have six different ways of getting where you need to go. Do you send them out Old Santa Fe Trail? How do you explain that weird left turn at the top of the hill? You could point them up Canyon Road to Camino del Monte Sol, but that has a lot of distractions, and what if they miss the turn? Is it easiest to just tell them to take Alameda all the way around past St. John's and then left at the first stop sign, right at the next, and then a quick left? And God forbid you're trying to get them there from the south, because that's a 50/50 proposition that might end with a call to Atalaya Search & Rescue.
You're better off telling them to find a place to park and jump on the free Museum Shuttle line of the Santa Fe Pickup or shelling out a mere dollar to ride the M line of the city's Santa Fe Trails bus system. You'll be doing a public service by keeping a tourist off the roads (an idea ripe for an Ali Macgraw public service announcement) and you'll feel better about your insider knowledge.
Then again, if the tourist in question happens to be a real pain, you might just forget to tell them about that weird left turn up by the gallery and Cliff's Liquors. Or was it a right where Camino Cruz Blanca dead ends into Camino del Monte Sol instead of a left? It's so hard to remember … (MG)
BEST place to stand during free Railyard shows when you don’t feel like staring into the gaping maw of insanity that is a bunch of baby boomers “dancing” or dealing with those beach chair weirdos
That one tree in the Railyard
Cerrillos Road and Guadalupe Street
This year's Railyard concert series might be the best yet thanks to nonprofit AMP Concerts and their recent acquisition of a $25,000 AMP grant (no relation) from Los Angeles' Levitt Foundation. Thus far, we've seen Meat Puppets, DakhaBrakha with Cloacas, Dumpstaphunk with The Sticky and many more, and there are even more great shows on the horizon.
But for some of us, there's quite the quagmire to circumvent as we take in the jams, and it's not just in the form of those people who show up early and plunk down beach chairs in the effing middle of everything—it's the dancers. And before you give us some diatribe about how we should all dance like nobody's watching and oh, isn't it beautiful that they still feel the music and some people just wanna sit—save it.
So what do we do when we want to observe the art and enjoy the evening from a safe distance? We head to that one tree. Which tree? Well, say you're looking at the stage from the center of the Railyard Plaza. Simply turn around and veer toward your left. There's a bench there. It's often adjacent to a food truck; you'll be free to not be bumped or careened into and nobody is gonna be like, "Hey! Even though sitting in a chair in the middle of a crowd is objectively absurd, I blame you for obstructing my view!"
Life will be good. Have a kebab from Kebab Caravan. Splendor at the magical quality of nature. Maybe learn a thing or two about botany. Chloroplasts, grrrl … chloroplasts. (ADV)
BEST place to get stoned around dead people
Our Lady of Guadalupe Cemetery
on Early Street, one block off Cerrillos
“Dead bodies everywhere!” isn’t the kind of thing you’d want to hear when you’ve just partaken of cannabis. Or, maybe the weed would encourage a calm understanding of the material oneness of life in which you consider that the dirt to which we all return is transformed into life-giving soil when our decaying corpses are enveloped within it. Either way, you can see where your mind wanders by picking up some medicinal cannabis at
Fruit of the Earth Organics (901 Early St., 310-7917)
and then checking out Our Lady of Guadalupe Cemetery across the street. The earliest graves date back to the 19th century, and the latest appears to be from 1955. Many people buried there have classic New Mexico surnames—Gurule, Trujillo, Montoya, Armijo—although the person born the earliest of them all (1820) probably has the most old timey-sounding first name: Enepomosino. The placement of a new-agey dispensary founded by a free-spirited Anglo transplant next to a staid Hispano cemetery is probably one of best displays of Santa Fe’s cultural history and the way it either clashes or coalesces. (AC)
BEST local dog
That one fat corgi I see near Whole Foods sometimes
My brother acquired a mixed-breed corgi-type dog recently, and my reverence for the stubby beasts went from somewhere in the “All right, that’s fine” camp to “OHMYGAWDLOOKATTHELITTLELEGS!” world. I started seeing those fuzzy little bastards everywhere, and it was good. And though the Queen of England’s fave four-legged friends are all basically the cutest damn things anywhere (especially in puppy form), there is one who all at once mystifies, amazes and calls to me, and I don’t even know its name. Never met the pup, in fact, but I just know we’d be best friends.
If you wish to see this gorgeous gift to humanity, merely hang around the Guadalupe Street area and/or the Whole Foods parking lot. It'll take some doing, but I've run into this mutt pretty regularly, and lord is he fat. But in this good way. See, some corgis don't love running (who does?), and their little legs mean they can get kinda wiped out easily. Thank goodness, too, because something tells me I wouldn't care even close to as much if it weren't adorably pudgy. So here's to you, fat corgi, for you have stolen my heart. (ADV)
BEST ridiculous attempt at making a kid excited
That time our editor tried to convince a staffer's daughter that a regular work day was actually "reading camp"
Every parent has been there. Even every pet owner. You know how you're trying to get your dog psyched to eat a pill so you wrap it in ham and dance around and talk all high-pitched and then throw it to them like it's a biscuit?
Well, when a staffer's daughter had to hang out at SFR HQ for a few work days after school let out, she was understandably a little bored. On Tuesdays we have Doritos and Orange Crush, but that's about where it ends for things that would appeal to an 8-year-old. All we do is type on our computers and drink obscene amounts of coffee and yell from cube to cube about government officials and whether it's time to switch to wine yet.
But wait! SFR Editor Julie Ann Grimm to the rescue. She swooped in and told the kid that watching your mom code a website and her coworkers scribble with red pens is actually reading camp! Look how close the library is to our office! Maybe we don't go on hikes or have a sandbox or any other kids whatsoever or whatever else real camps have, but this is fun! We promise!
Needless to say, it wasn't long before the kid asked her mom to send her to Santa Fe Performing Arts. (CJ)
BEST local trend that needs to just stop already and we can’t believe we still have to say this
Musicians taking themselves super seriously
Here's a little something to chew on for all you local songsmiths out there: No one cares. First of all, it isn't as if the music industry even really works the way it once did anymore—the internet has basically killed that. There isn't some magical deal out there waiting. And even if it did still work that way, it isn't like there are A&R guys from labels thinking, "I'll check out Santa Fe, and then, if I have time, I'll hit up New York and Los Angeles and New Orleans or wherever."
We get that you work hard and we think it's just adorable that you put your albums up on iTunes and Spotify and YouTube, but the best pieces of advice we can give are: 1)tour constantly and build an actual following not made up of your neighbors and buddies, 2) move somewhere and actually try to do it—or 3) Just, like, take it easy. You'll continue to be that band who plays while the TVs are on or the drinkers are busy flirting or the sound guys ignore you or—and this is really best-case-scenario here—you'll open for some middling band who isn't from here and make a couple bucks. See, whoever told y'all that a career in music was a stable and genuinely wise way to make your living has done you a disservice.
So play your shows as you can and keep releasing your albums (some of them are truly phenomenal), but otherwise let's all just relax a little. (ADV)
BEST (worst) total drag for SFR this year
Places that stop carrying SFR for no good reason, such as Trader Joe's!
We love that super-rich vanilla ice cream. They have the best gluten-free pasta we’ve ever tried. And the juice selection? So very vast! There isn’t much to dislike about Trader Joe’s, down to the awesome Hawaiian-shirted cashiers.
We said there isn't much to dislike. There is something. And it's a pretty big something.
Thanks to Phillips Edison & Company—the mysterious, perhaps cranky corporate overlords that own the Cordova Road shopping center that contains Santa Fe's TJ's (as well as hundreds of other shopping malls across the country)—all periodicals were ordered removed from outside the grocery store. In one fell swoop, one of the most popular pickup spots that SFR had was gone overnight.
We've had folks ask why we're no longer outside TJ's, and believe us, we are trying to find out too!
Andy Bramble, SFR's circulation manager, has been unable to get an answer out of the mega-landlords. Bramble says he has tried to call them many times, and has never received a return call. "They apparently had no interest in having any sort of dialogue or communication about this," he says. Bummer.
SFR has explored other options to make available the copies that no longer fly off the rack at TJ's. If you want SFR at a location, be sure to ask for it, because shit just got real, you guys. (CJ)
Eat & Sip
BEST place to scarf down a decadent cinnamon roll and chase it with a breakfast burrito while a peacock eyeballs you
San Marcos Café
2877 Hwy. 14, 471-9298
Admittedly, this was a fairly narrow category. Part of what makes the café south of town on the Turquoise Trail so fun, though, is that it’s so unique. A feed store is around the side, the homey café is in front. Especially as fall makes its way into Northern New Mexico, a seat in the sunroom close to the fireplace is a great spot to spend a little more time than you planned to, sipping coffee.
Owners Cindy and Mark Holloway bought the place in 2014 and all their changes seem subtle. They still have turkeys and chickens and 20-ish peacocks roaming the property. (The geese are plastic.) The peacocks, especially, are not shy about showing off—or seeing how much food you're stuffing down your gullet. It should be a lot. The cinnamon rolls ($4.25) are fantastic and the half-dozen variations on a breakfast burrito come with chile that lets you know it's there. Waitstaff rave about the San Marcos Burrito ($10.50), which comes packed with roast beef and the usual accoutrements. They're also happy to sub out meat for an avocado if veggies are more your thing. (MG)
BEST weird array of sauces you didn’t think would taste good—but then they totally did
The Burger Stand
207 W San Francisco St., 989-3360
You're at the Burger Stand and you've ordered your green chile cheeseburger or your Kobe beef burger or your fried chicken sandwich or your fish and chips, falafel, flat iron steak or hot dog—whatever. And now it's time to dress that bad boy, but you've grown tired of the same old ketchup-mayo-mustard combo and long for a sauce you've had ne'er before.
Relax. Breathe easy. For these burg-nerds have created the sauce bar to end most others, and your glorious ship has finally come in. Their six fantastic mixes come in the form of Bloody Maria barbecue sauce, guajillo chile dip, roast garlic & parmesan ailoi and—bear with us—toasted marshmallow, among others. We dipped fries in the marshmallow one and slathered our burgers and hot dogs with avocado ranch; we mixed several together. We ate our words and basically were like, "Man, this stuff would probably be good on, like, a cake, too." (ADV)
BEST unnecessarily complicated process that creates an aesthetically pleasing and delicious frozen treat
This mobile ice cream cart serves made-to-order frozen creations prepared by owner Xzavian Cookbey, who says he got the idea for the unique sweets when his college roommate at Santa Fe University of Art and Design showed him a video of a similar ice cream setup he’d seen while traveling in Thailand. After three months practicing the intricate chopping, mixing, spreading and scraping technique, Cookbey perfected the thin rolls of ice cream, and opened Freezie Fresh at the end of June 2016.
SFR tracked the treat cart to the parking lot on West Alameda near La Montañita Co-op and Betterday Coffee on a hot and sunny weekday afternoon. As we approached, Cookbey was making his raspberry blend in a hurry for two kids waiting for the bus. He said he'd tried to make them a free treat the day before, but the bus had come too quickly. Meeting the people he's making ice cream for is clearly something Cookbey is into. In fact, he says it's his favorite part of owning Freezie Fresh.
"Just being on the front line, meeting customers, I build somewhat of a relationship with them." He says he sees a lot of repeat ice cream lovers, "which is good. People are coming back and bringing new people with them."
You'll find different flavors each time you visit including ones like mango chile lime, strawberry, Thai iced tea and lemon cream (which is the owner's favorite). He makes every recipe himself, mixing the flavor compote with a vanilla custard (sans eggs) on a freezing cold plate powered by a generator. You see the liquid solidify into frozen goodness right before your eyes as Cookbey combines the ingredients and smooths the mixture into a thin square before scraping up four slices into little rose-shaped rolls. Trust us, this stuff is as good as it is pretty. We know you'll Instagram it (tag 'em up—@freeziefresh) and we know you'll eat it more than once. Good thing he has a loyalty program. (MER)
BEST appropriation of Albuquerque’s Breaking Bad fame
Walter White Margarita at San Francisco Street Bar and Grill
50 E San Francisco St., 982-2044
It went on for five seasons and it put Albuquerque back on the pop culture map, so it's only natural that the Breaking Bad television show and all its fandom and accoutrements are alive and well in Santa Fe for both locals and tourists.
One can acquire a T-shirt emblazoned with a crafty Dia de los Muertos version of Heisenberg on the Santa Fe Plaza and pick up blue meth rock candy in Albuquerque's Old Town before taking a multi-stop tour of the homes and businesses featured in the series. But wait, there's more.
Sip on the Walter White Margarita at the San Francisco Street Bar and Grill, where a turquoise-drenched woman wearing a fringy black skirt tells us the food is great too.
Bartenders could also market this cocktail as The Manhattan Different, in that its blue hue resembles glowing nuclear waste. But their theme slants more toward modern chemistry. Behold an azure concoction in a martini glass with a sugar or salt rim and a bold serving of silver tequila with Blue Curaçao citrus-flavored liquor replacing its standard Triple Sec cousin—all for $9.
And watch soon for the Better Call Saul tour and a vodka tonic in a plastic glass or, better yet, a fictional top-shelf tequila. Hint: On the show, they say he's working at a swanky firm in Santa Fe, but hardly any of the filming actually takes place here. (Julie Ann Grimm)
BEST local place to get coffee that was here well before all this talk of waves
Ohori's Coffee Roasters
1098 ½ S St. Francis Drive, 982-9692
505 Cerrillos Road (inside Luna Center)
Oh, how the third-wave coffee world loves to bestow accolades and praise upon the most hipster-y of shops and most somehow-innovative ways to pour hot water through ground beans, but this is Santa Fe, and we know how to remember our history. Right? Right. And nobody at SFR would dare talk down to any of our town's fine coffee locales (we're journalists and live off the stuff), but we know where we'll go when the day is ideal and the roast must be just so.
Enter Ohori's, the long-standing local haunt(s) with the strong-ass roasts and the you-totally-get-a-free-cup-if-you-buy-a-pound deal you know and love. Their food menu may be practically non-existent and their hangout options may be limited, but when you press that beautiful morning shot-in-the-dark up to your lips and quaff that heady elixir, you know you've done it right and you should totally go there more often. They've even got a drive-thru. Score. (ADV)
BEST slices, no matter what your idiot friend who went to New York, like, two times and now thinks he’s an expert says
Design Center, 418 Cerrillos Road, 988-8825
San Isidro Plaza, 3470 Zafarano Drive, 471-6200
Agora Center, 7 Avenida Vista Grande, Eldorado, 466-3161
OK, so obviously Santa Fe isn't New York City, and somehow they're the only city on earth that's figured out how to make pizza properly (bagels, too)—we get it! But there's no getting around the greasy, floppy, better-when-you-dip-it-in-the-balsamic-glaze goodness of Pizza Centro. These thin yet massive slices run the gamut from classic to crazy, and the price-to-full-belly ratio is off the charts. Rock your own custom creation with any of their fine toppings or venture deeper into the belly of the beast with concoctions such as the Alphabet City (with flash-fried eggplant, artichoke hearts and lots more), the Chelsea (which comes with both meatballs and sausage) or, for you vegetarians out there, the Central Park (with spinach, sun-dried tomato, ricotta and other such awesomeness).
Look, no one is besmirching the good names of fine dough-flingers from the Eastern Seaboard, but we're gently suggesting that Pizza Centro has what it takes to close that gap, even just a little bit—and we'll all probably be OK, Jasper. (ADV)
BEST place to read crappy, vague life advice from billionaires on the walls
While eating a lame-to-low-mediocre sandwich at Jimmy John's (now with two locations in our City Different), it's always good to stare at the wall and ponder your serious life decisions. The franchise is owned by Jimmy John Liautaud, who has a net worth of $400 million, and the advice on said wall is from Richard Branson, a British businessman worth $5 billion. So clearly, he is a better person than me. I'm going to listen to him!
- Think Yes, Not No. Okay, I did. I thought yes to owning a chimpanzee. Now I own a chimpanzee. What now, Jimmy John? Richard, any input?
- Keep Your Good Name. Charlotte Jusinski is a pretty good name, but I kind of think Thurstonia Chalice would be better. Instead of "keep" it, can I "get" it instead?
- Aim High. Shit, now the baby doll is on the roof.
- Put The Family and The Team First. I put the Kardashians and the Edmonton Oilers first. My parents are kinda pissed. Jim and/or Rich, can you talk to them for me?
- When It's Not Fun, Move On. Good, I didn't want to sit on the toilet any more anyway.
- Calculate The Risks, Then Take Them. OK! I calculated that I risked losing at least four fingers and both eyes while playing with firecrackers in the garage. I can't see now, so I am typing this by feel with three fingers (my calculations were off), so hk m mI beggnb u jbgeg? (CJ)
BEST action-themed dessert
Exploding passion balls at State Capital Kitchen
500 Sandoval St., 467-8237
The best part of eating this dessert might be the sense of anticipation when you get the instructions from your waitress: Lift the delicate globe from its bed of white sugar in that cute little ceramic bowl. Close your mouth completely after you place the entire object on your tongue. We’ve heard commercials for chewing gum and kids’ drinks with far less pizzaz.
What happens next is remarkable. A soft, waxy exterior dissolves into a—yes— explosion of passion fruit.
Chef Mark Connell's vision at State Capital Kitchen has shifted from its original "American dim sum" concept to a pure culinary joy at a spot that's been one of the Santa Fe revolving doors of dining. You know him from his former time at Max's and Arroyo Vino, and from last year's Best of Santa Fe issue when we raved about his other genius-level dessert.
Whether it's a small-plate supper with foraged mushrooms or a special entree like suckling pig three ways, and regardless of whether you can resist the melting globe of chocolate filled with ice cream that Connell is also serving up with great memories, we recommend you don't miss this signature dessert to finish with a bang. (JAG)
BEST use of a welding supply for restaurant decor
1291 San Felipe Ave., 303-3535
Sandwich lovers in Midtown sagged when Bodega Prime closed for renovations earlier this year, but the expanded dining room that reopened was worth the hiatus. Bodega is back and better than ever. We just love the glass decanter of tap water on the table along with enamel cups, cloth napkins and paper straws. And the simple decor is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Our favorite new addition is light fixtures that hang above the bar seating. Repurposed industrial items that make their way to a restaurant are always fun, and these happen to be tank valve covers—the kind that screw to the top of oxygen and acetylene tanks in welding shops, or the cap of the helium tank we'll use to fill balloons at the SFR booth at the upcoming Best of Santa Fe Party in the Railyard (5 pm Friday July 28—it's free! Be there!). They're colorful and creative and will probably give you a killer goose egg if you try to dance on the bar and bang your head into one. (The lights, that is. Not the balloons. Those are gonna be nothing but fun.) (JAG)