Best Art Collective

What began as a loose collection of misfit weirdos has since grown into an internationally recognized collection … of misfit weirdos. But much of the soul of its original founders remains intact. The House of Eternal Return is one of the city's biggest tourist attractions. Meow Wolf raised its base wage rate this year to a stately $17 an hour for most employees and Santa Fe bigwig George RR Martin accepted a job as chief world builder, and that's not even mentioning still-in-the-works plans for installations in Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Washington, DC.

1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369

You'll find the long line of booths in the Railyard Plaza on weekends March through December, and it's your one-way ticket to affordable artworks created by artists whose only skin in the game comes in getting the word out. They're doing it for the love.

Railyard Plaza
Market and Alcaldesa streets

One of our favorite not-on-Canyon Road gallery spaces also happens to be a collective of progressive multimedia artists and artisans who work in paint, sculpture, found media and more.

1114 A Hickox St., 954-1705

Best Band

1. Chango

You've spoken, Santa Fe, and your words say that you love cover songs. But, of course, Chango is more than a cadre of mere emulators. It's in the energy of front man Andy Primm and the shredding riffs of guitarist Greg Lopez; it's in the unexpected song selections and the massive sets spanning decades. It's in recapturing, even if just for one night, the soundtrack to that special summer, first kiss or road trip through the long and beautiful night.

Yes, we love country, folk and Americana in Santa Fe, and yes, Half Broke Horses knows this. That's why y'all have become such good friends.

Rock and reggae meet hip-hop and totally bodacious vibes when this super-band of super-friends hits basically any stage in town. Find 'em occasionally at El Farol or Boxcar and revel in the genre-defying good times.

Best Bar

Margaritas that come with extra in the shaker and one of the best and most affordable burgers our fair city's ever seen. We're always down. The gigantic windows in the main room (they open like French doors in the summer) don't hurt, either, nor do the sports, drinks and friendly waitstaff. What used to be a covered patio is now a whole extra, sun-filled room that's a big difference from the darker classic bar area. Del Charro might be downtown and in a hotel, but this is as local as it gets.

Inn of the Governors, 101 W Alameda St., 954-0320

2. Cowgirl

When a restaurant/bar/pool hall takes up nearly an entire city block, rotates drink and beer specials, and has karaoke and other live music plus a front-porch patio, it's easy to see how it wins the hearts and minds of a town.

319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

3. Totemoff's Bar at Ski Santa Fe

When the snow falls and the skis come out, is there a better place to stop than this mid-mountain lodge? Find live music and more throughout the winter.

1477 Hwy. 475, 982-4429

Best Bartender

1. Randilynn Landberg – Cowgirl

With its reputation as a local's haunt, it takes a special kind of bartender to win over the regulars, and Landberg just plain has it. Ask almost anyone on a stool inside the ol' C-Girl why they keep coming back, and the answer often has something to do with the service and staff. You can expect a well-mixed drink or a beer served with grace and aplomb. You can expect Landberg'll remember you as you remember her.

319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

2. Jeannette Kinnaird – Santa Fe Brewing Company

Santa Fe's largest indie brewer has risen to the top by offering a strong product, sure, but also by hiring the very best to offer up its suds.

35 Fire Place, 424-3333

3. Ashley Maestas – Harry's Roadhouse

The drive to the very edge of town is worth it with folks like Maestas slingin' drinks and makin' friends.

96 B Old Las Vegas Hwy., 989-4629

Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino
Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino | Courtesy Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino

Best Casino

No longer considered the new kid on the block, Buffalo Thunder has cemented itself as one of the leading casinos in the state. From the top-tier gambling and live entertainment to the world-class dining, nightclubs, pool and golfing, plus a well-appointed Hilton hotel, it's the kind of adult playground one dreams about and a mere 15 minutes from town on Pojoaque Pueblo land.

20 Buffalo Thunder Trail, 455-5555

It opened in November of 2018, but with a dedicated local's bent, modern gambling and an eye for local music, things are getting started on the right foot in Tesuque.

7 Tesuque Road, 800-462-2635

To be fair, this isn't a Santa Fe locale, but it's just so good our readers couldn't help but vote it in. We've seen everything from great concerts to conventions at this pretty site.

30 Rainbow Road, Albuquerque, 796-7500

Best Dance Company

Over its storied 25 years of existence, this popular dance school has helped mold and train the very best dancers of their generation, and it's all ours! With roots in the worlds of New York City dance and ballet, NDI's local iteration is perhaps stronger than ever, from the beautiful facility on Alto Street and its bustling student body to its performances in and around Santa Fe, this is dance at its finest.

1140 Alto St., 983-7646

Where might we be without ASFB's seasonal performances, one-off events and educational opportunities? Probably a whole lot less dance-literate, that's where.

550 St Michael's Drive, Ste. B1, 983-5591

The studio of the people merges top-notch skill and artistry with everyday folks with a penchant for movement.

535 Cerrillos Road, 501-2142

Best Date Spot

Violet Crown's airy, comfortable dining area and multiple massive screens set the mood amidst a long list of beers on tap and varied menu. It's like everything you could want, all in one place. And yes, we count the stunning mountain views from the movie theater-restaurant's Railyard patio. Throw in special events, classic film series, special screenings, field trips, lectures and even a silent auction for SFR's annual photo contest, and you can see why it's the place to be.

1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678

OK, so maybe not a first date because of the potential nudity (or maybe yes if that's how you roll), but this Japanese-themed tub and spa oasis in the mountains is as steamy as it gets.

21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304

In what seems like the quickest turnaround in local history, Tumbleroot announced it would open, did, and has since grown into one of Santa Fe's best and most well-loved stages, eateries and bars.

2791 Agua Fría St., 780-5730

Best DJ

1. Your Boy Re-Flex

Taking on the mantle of "party facilitator," Re-Flex is more like a curator of vibes if the vibes all spelled love. This is about a good time, not who's better at twisting knobs; this is about a feeling, not who has the biggest record collection. Thus, Re-Flex fires it up in bars, weddings and parties, and he does it all with grace, humor and wit.

2. DJ Dynamite Sol

Sheer talent, an encyclopedic music knowledge and—let's face it—one of the most upbeat attitudes of anyone we've ever met, it's little wonder Sol made the Top 3.

3. DJ Apollo

Santa Fe clearly loves Josh Apollo Garcia, whose shows here and in Albuquerque lay down the trance, tech trance and techno.

Best Gallery

We'll admit we thought a more buzzy gallery would take this spot, but Adobe Gallery's badass experts in Native art, pottery and more makes sense. Adobe welcomes visitors and locals alike to the artsiest of Santa Fe's streets from its perch at the very beginning of Canyon Road. From there, it's spent years wowing with special exhibitions and expansive collection of art books. Color us wrong.

221 Canyon Road, 955-0550

Matteucci and company just keep placing in Best of Santa Fe, and we're pretty sure it has something to do with the gorgeous garden or variety of museum-quality artworks.

1075 Paseo de Peralta, 982-4631

Easily one of the most modern spaces within Santa Fe's gallery system, KEEP has built steam over the last few years by showcasing local and international pop, lowbrow and fine-arts creators.

142 Lincoln Ave., 557-9574

Best Hotel Bar

1. Del Charro at the Inn of the Governors

Imagine you're not local. You leave your room in search of adventure but make a quick pitstop in the hotel bar. From the plush leather seats of the main room or the cheerful, casual enclosed patio, you quaff expertly mixed cocktails or a hefty pour of margarita while you pore over your map. You can grab an affordable bite without leaving. Do you even want to leave?

101 W Alameda St., 954-0320

The newly renovated space still hosts some of the best and longest-running nights of music in town, and the people-watching is absolutely divine.

100 E San Francisco St., 982-5511

The minimalist environs belie Secreto's certified mixology champions for
no-frills cocktails, beers and light bites. This one's a must no matter where you live.

210 Don Gaspar Ave., 983-5700

@skisantafe/Instagram
@skisantafe/Instagram | Courtesy @skisantafe/Instagram

Best Instagram Feed

Powder-covered trees mix with snowcapped mountains among photos of talented skiers shredding the gnar. Aerial shots and seemingly impossible action snaps showcase the majesty of winter sports. You can get updates on the conditions, take in the gorgeous contrast of blue skies against white hills or even just plan out how to grab a beer after that last run at award-winning Totemoff's.

Caitlin Jenkins and Amy Tischler, the mavens who launched a local social media empire within a few short years, reside over this heavily followed account. Love Santa Fe? You need this.

At first you might think that an Instagram account dedicated to a Scottish fold cat and the six rescued greyhounds with which he lives might not be all that amazing. You would be wrong.

Best Live Music Venue

A "venue" which only operates for a mere two-ish months in the summertime consistently brings home the bacon in our annual readers poll, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Keep in mind that the townsfolk (and visitors) get access to an entire summer's worth of free shows, and that works out to dozens of performances on the Plaza and on the Southside representing myriad genres, countless musicians and good times.

100 Old Santa Fe Trail

Classical music, chamber music, rock shows, film, opera, dance, theater, lectures, conversations … and on and on. Take a moment to stop and really think about how magical the Lensic happens to be.

211 W San Francisco St., 988-1234

World-renowned doesn't even do the Santa Fe Opera justice, especially since shows with more contemporary sounds have become more commonplace alongside year after year of world-class productions.

301 Opera Drive, 986-5900

Best Movie House

We've often crowed the benefits of how many screens Santa Fe has per capita, but there's just something so wonderful about Violet Crown. We love the food and drink menus and the state-of-the-art screens and sound. We love the community-minded mandate of its staff and managers. We even love that we can reserve our seats before leaving the house, putting an end once and for all to the mad dash for a good spot.

1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678

The little theater that could and does and was revived by George RR Martin continues its reign of foreign, arthouse and special event screenings. We love you, too, JCC.

418 Montezuma Ave., 466-5528

Under the watchful eye of Cinematheque Director Jason Silverman, the CCA's cinematic offerings have grown and thrived as one of the most vital film spaces in the country. Add The Screen on the Midtown Campus to the mix as well. Long live the CCA.

1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338; 1600 St. Michael's Drive, 428-0209

Best Museum

When a city has an entire hilltop acropolis dedicated to museums, it can be tough to single out a favorite. But MOIFA has just plain been astounding with memorable and engaging exhibitions for so long now that it's basically a no-brainer. Director Khristaan Villela's vision has come full circle with awesome shows from Peruvian street artists to the whimsical and world-changing design aesthetics of Alexander Girard. Upcoming events are many.

706 Camino Lejo, 476-1200

Like stepping back in history, Golondrinas goes the living-history route, showcasing what it was like to live around here in days of yore. Home of do the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair, too!

334 Los Pinos Road, 471-2260

Oh, y'know, no big—just an entire museum dedicated to one of the most singularly important 20th century artists who ever lived, as well as the work of her influencers and influenced.

217 Johnson St., 946-1000

Best Performing Arts Venue

Performing arts, of course, is a rather nebulous term—but then, so is the Lensic's schedule. Maybe the word we want is "varied," but whatever it is, the point remains the same: Any town many times our size would be lucky to have a venue that hosts so many kinds of things, from dance and theater to films, lectures, animation, comedy and so much more. Plus, it's steeped in history. Pretty lucky, no?

211 W San Francisco St., 988-1234

In addition to the works of opera's best and brightest, find bigger-name rock shows, festival-like events and much more at one of the country's most beautiful and well-designed theaters.

301 Opera Drive, 986-5900

Even a few short years ago, most of the big-name bands on the road would have driven by for Albuquerque, but Meow Wolf completely flipped the script. We've since seen everything from alt.rock heroes to techno legends and all points in-between.

1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369

Best Theater Group

The oldest continually operating theater west of the Mississippi has pulled out all the stops since Artistic Director Vaughn Irving took over some years back. Since then, the playhouse has spawned festivals and original productions, welcomed returning actors and production folks, focused on exciting plays both old and new and sought to change how Santa Fe theater is perceived by its denizens.

142 E De Vargas St., 988-4262

Wise Fool's penchant for aerial stunts, puppetry, tumbling, LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and education make it one of the most important outfits in town.

1131 Siler Road, 992-2588

Rarely if ever have we heard less than thunderous praise for the Midtown theater, and that includes right from ourselves at this paper.

3205 Calle Marie, 424-1601