Best Art Collective

It's been a tough year for pretty much everyone, and Santa Fe's largest arts company was no exception: Meow Wolf laid off 201 employees at the outset of COVID-19. But with a strong online presence, regular donations of PPE to Indigenous communities, the collective remains beloved.

1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369

A loosely affiliated cadre of local artists, designers and aficionados takes over the Railyard on Saturdays to share their wares and, on occasion, blow minds. Look for Nikolas Duran Geiger—trust us.

Market Street, 310-8766

Split up between Santa Fe and New Orleans, this woman-led arts team has something for every budget.

134 W Water St., 983-9529

Best Band

How many years is this that Nosotros has won our Best Band category? Eh, it doesn't matter because this band is timeless. We're talking a seamless blend of Latin sounds, sick riffs and a jazzy underbelly that gets the dancers moving and even works for the music snobs. To see them live is to know them best, but you'll find killer tracks online.

Ron Crowder Band

Crowder's been more of a rhythm guy for much of his Santa Fe music career with acts like Moby Dick, but he's fronting stages and writing originals now. Get down.

John Francis and the Poor Clares

Stalwart Americana/indie troubadour John Francis Mustain works with some of the best locals (like Greg Butera) for satisfying songs of loss, love, woe and hope.

Best Bar

When summer rolls around and you're looking for a cool beer on a shaded patio—or when winter comes and only a hot toddy will do on that same patio, only now it's enclosed and warm, only the Cowgirl will do. It's an institution, Santa Fe, a venerable one, and one that, at the time of this writing, was slowly getting back to normal with socially distant seating, talk of live music outdoors and, thank goodness, still the place with the ice cream baked potato.

319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

Everybody's favorite marg (with the extra-filled shaker), most affordable bar menu in town and an excellent patio for warm or cold months.

101 W Alameda St., 954-0320

The bar within the Hotel St. Francis has gone through a number of changes over the years, but its current minimalist stone aesthetic makes way for its star mixologists and famous cocktails.

201 Don Gaspar Ave., 983-5700 

Best Bartender

Randilynn Landberg – Cowgirl BBQ

You love the bar, you love the patio—why wouldn't you love Randilynn Landberg, now a two-time winner of this very prestigious category. "I feel so grateful to be supported by Cowgirl and Santa Fe as a community," Landberg tells SFR. "To win best bartender two years in a row just proves people have just as much fun at my bar as I'm having when I'm back there. And I'm so thankful!" Us, too, because, damn, that's a good-ass strawberry margarita.

319 S Guadalupe St., 982-2565

Katie Valdez – Dinner for Two

DF2 has pivoted to a socially distant model with ease, and the only thing more adorable than its new little patio is drinks like the Love Bubble Margarita or Unicorn Tears served up right by Valdez.

106 N Guadalupe St., 820-2075

Jonah Prokopiak – The Matador

Prokopiak is literally everything you could ever possibly want from a bartender, which is why his regulars love him so and why this subterranean bar remains beloved.

116 W San Francisco St., 984-5050

Best Casino

True story: A friend once won $400 from a penny slot machine at Buffalo Thunder, and with that little windfall, he had a steak, drank delicious cocktails, caught some live music, dipped into a little bit of blackjack, danced late at the Shadeh Nightclub and reserved a room so he wouldn't drive home after drinking—all under one roof. There's lots of ways to have fun inside and outside at Buffalo Thunder, and the brief little drive there is practically nothing. What're you waiting for?

20 Buffalo Thunder Trail, 455-5555

The new kid on the block, Tesuque Casino has been welcomed with open arms by gamblers, fun-seekers, diners and working musicians alike.

7 Tesuque Road, 800-462-2635

The casino that's so nice our readers don't even care that it's not in Santa Fe. Catch a show, have a meal, maybe watch some standup…your choice.

30 Rainbow Road, Albuquerque, 796-7500

Best Dance Company

There's something magical about the National Dance Institute's Santa Fe campus and offerings, and we think it has something to do with it being a family affair. The kiddos learn, perform, befriend each other; the parents grow alongside them. Recent virtual collaborations with the likes of the Littleglobe TV Show have proven the dedication of its students, and we just hope they're back to performing for massive audiences soon.

1140 Alto St., 983-7646

Internationally known, locally adored, storied past and promising future—for ballet fans in Santa Fe, it doesn't get better than what we share with Aspen.

550 St. Michael's Drive, 983-5591

The students at Santa Fe's artiest school won the lottery with the beautiful new campus in the former Sanbusco building, and now their dancers finally have the room they need to let loose.

500 Montezuma Ave., 310-4194

Best Date Spot

We've been saying it for years, and you have, too, Santa Fe: Violet Crown rules. From the welcoming staff, massive beer list and comfy seats (with hidden tables!) to the dining menu you'd actually want to eat from even if you weren't seeing a movie, it's the tops. "It's a distinct pleasure to be picked for Best Date Spot again this year, and be able to sponsor all the hopeful lovers of Santa Fe," manager Peter Grendle tells SFR. "We can't wait for you to emerge from quarantine and close those online dating apps to meet each other at Violet Crown, in real life, when we can safely re-open."

1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678

Something about getting all hot and slippery totally works for a date, right? It does. You know it does. Get in the tub and get hot and slippery. Or get a massage. Either way.

21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304

It's not always about Italian tragedies at the world-famous opera house. We've seen amazing bands and musicians there on super-hot date nights, y'know?

301 Opera Drive, 986-5955

Raashan Ahmad
Raashan Ahmad | Anson Stevens-Bollen

Best DJ

Raashan Ahmad

If you caught our cover story on Ahmad earlier this year, you know he's one of our favorites, too. A longtime dancer, MC, DJ and all-around beacon of positivity and kindness, he won our hearts with his sick original tunes and kept them by DJing any number of local hip-hop, funk and soul nights around town. There's no telling when a new album might drop, but with a storied career solo and with his former band Crown City Rockers under his belt, it'll be amazing—you just know it.

DJ Dynamite Sol

'Twas a good run for the incomparable Dynamite Sol in first place the last few years, but with a new kid at home (congrats!) it seems like he's a little more focused on that family life these days. No matter—Sol still spins sick tunes, no question.


He campaigned with grace and aplomb, and his regular virtual performances online have been a bastion of dance jams and feel-good fun for months now. Welcome to the club, D-MONIC, we'll see you on Facebook and Instagram and stuff.

Best Gallery

We spent the last 30 minutes touring the Nedra Matteucci Galleries site for inspiration and, if we're being honest, we kind of forgot what we were doing because of all the incredible art on display. The Wilson Hurley summer exhibit alone had us stunned, as did the reminder that NMG has a little sculpture garden and about 10,000 years of experience in marrying collectors with their perfect piece(s). You like them, Santa Fe—you really like them.

1075 Paseo de Peralta, 982-4631

One of the more progressive and varied spaces in town, form & concept has everything you'd want from painting, sculpture and textiles to performance, music and more.

435 S Guadalupe St., 780-8312

A relative newcomer to the gallery scene, Frank Rose's small but powerful Canyon Road business is one of the best places to see contemporary Indigenous arts.

830 Canyon Road, 913-1341

Best Hotel Bar

Renovations came to La Fonda's La Fiesta Lounge, but it still maintains that small town feel we know and love. In healthier times, one would find country and honky-tonk legend Bill Hearne holding court a few times per week, and when visitors to our town ask for a list of killer margaritas, this one's always someplace near the top. You don't have to stay there for access, either. Glorious.

100 E San Francisco St., 982-5511

You'd forget Del Charro is attached to the Inn of the Governors because it's such a fantastic spot, but for those coming in from out of town, it's a perfect evening out without going far.

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

Drinks as delicious and fancy as the fancy hotel to which it's tethered, find world-class mixologists and this downtown staple at Hotel St. Francis.

201 Don Gaspar Ave., Hotel St. Francis, 983-5700

Best Instagram Feed

Like a photographic love letter to the city, Caitlin Jenkins and Amy Tischler's influencer-meets-appreciator aesthetic makes for a clean and celebratory look at all things Santa Fe. Food, art, people, places, plants, things, drinks—it's all here, plus a chance for local businesses to promote themselves and a whole lot of community engagement.

When it's hot outside (like right now as we're writing this), some high-quality photos of beautiful snow sure don't hurt. This account's run by pros.

A smorgasbord of dishes, regulars, drinks, performers and more, your fave restaurant is one of your fave Instagram accounts.

Best Lecture Series

Lannan's mission statement clearly states it's about "cultural freedom" and, in a town like Santa Fe, that's a welcome mission, indeed. Think of Lannan like a nonstop hit parade of fascinating guest speakers breaking down the things that interest them most, and that affect our communities and lives most. Toss in grant-giving and an awards and fellowship program and you've really got something.

309 Read St., 986-8160

Have you considered life on other planets? Complexity science? Do you know what a think tank does? Tune in to SFI and go deeper.

1399 Hyde Park Road, 984-8800

Living history touches past history for an eye-opening glimpse into the many things that have happened in New Mexico—and it is so many things.

334 Los Pinos Road, 471-2261

Best Live Music Venue

In our lives, there's just no underestimating how many incredible music performances we've seen at the Lensic. Weird Al with Emo Phillips would have been enough to love on its own, but with year-round programming including rock, classical, big names, mid-level names and even locals (like Lifesongs), it's no wonder Santa Fe crowns the downtown theater the best around.

211 W San Francisco St., 988-1234

Raise a glass to the long-running series that was forced to unceremoniously call it quits in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes to the Santa Fe Opera pretty much every year. Do we need to say more?

301 Opera Drive, 986-5955

Best Market/Festival

As everything shut down around us at the onset of the pandemic, the Farmers Market adopted new social distancing policies, made sure folks were masking up right and kept the whole thing going through the spring and summer. We love the fresh produce and honey, you might love picking up a stellar cut of meat or a sweet treat. Either way, it's on the Southside now, too, and there's a midweek market for the sleep-in set.

1607 Paseo de Peralta, 983-4098

The 2020 Indian Market is heading online with the same great artists.

121 Sandoval S., 983-5220

The July event transformed into an online auction and Executive Director Stuart Ashman tells SFR there are a ton of options for the future.

620 Cerrillos Road, 992-7600

Best Movie House

When the hole first appeared in the Railyard, our first Santa Fe-centric thought was "Pshshsht. Now what?" We're glad to have been proven too snooty, and Violet Crown has since proven one of the most valuable and locally beloved places in all the land. Maybe it's having mainstream and indie movies under one roof (or being able to drink beer while watching some dumb Marvel shlock), but one thing's certain—we hope VC never leaves us.

1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678

Now with two theaters and the satellite offerings of The Screen on St. Michael's Drive, this monument to all things indie, arthouse, documentary and foreign is easily one of the best things going.

1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338

Special cuts, horror surprises, that George RR Martin connection, one-off premieres of TV shows, author events, an attached bookstore…does it get better?

418 Montezuma Ave., 466-5528

Best Museum

It's rather difficult to sing the praises of the Museum of International Folk Art without leaving something important out. There's the recent offerings, such as the Yokai exhibit that celebrated hundreds of years of Japanese demon lore or the homage to all things folklorico—and then there's the year-round classes, lectures, workshops, community events and so on. It's a no-brainer voting this place number one.

706 Camino Lejo, 476-1200

Never forget that a museum dedicated to the history of New Mexico transformed itself into a monument to lowriders a few summers ago. What will it do next?

113 Lincoln Ave., 476-5200

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 Nonprofit for the Arts

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, 986-5955

What do circus arts have to do with activism and creating safe spaces for youths, adults and the LGBTQIA+ crowd? Everything, that's what.

1132 Siler Road B, 992-2588

Once again, we cannot overstate the importance of arts-based outreach for kids. And just like the plot of every dance movie ever, this place teaches lessons and moves mountains.

1140 Alto St., 983-7646

Best Performing Arts Venue

What's to be said about the Lensic that hasn't been said a million times already? Well, how about it's not just the place where they perform Handel's Messiah every winter? We saw Dave Chappelle here. We saw John Waters and Bill Plympton. We've hit lectures and comedy shows, rock acts and special events. The Lensic is there for you, dear Santa Fe. Make sure you make the most of it.

211 W San Francisco St., 988-1234

While everyone is figuring out what the future holds, Santa Fe Opera kicked off a fun virtual tailgate series on its YouTube and social media channels.

301 Opera Drive, 986-5955

An SFR favorite and the oldest continually running theater west of the Mississippi, the Playhouse demolishes any stigmas surrounding community theater.

142 E De Vargas St., 988-4262

Best Street Musician/Busker

Liv Orovich

When we first met Liv Orovich and her violin on the Santa Fe Plaza five years ago, she was relatively new to town and still trying to make her way through what were, at the time, absurd city busking policies. Since then, it's almost weirder to not see her out there shredding those strings and teaching us all a thing or two about how traditional venues mean nothing when it comes to good music.

Half a Shipwreck

You love 'em, they love you, it gets weird, it gets fun. In the busking hierarchy of the world, folks like this (who put a little more time and energy into the affair) rank high always.

Johnny Lloyd

Sometimes a musician has a preternatural ability to reach into your soul. Johnny Lloyd's got it, and he'll prove it to those willing to stop a moment and take a listen.

Best Theater Group

With Artistic Director Vaughan Irving leaving his post in the capable hands of Robyn Rikoon, things may be changing at the ol' Playhouse, but it's in one of the most creatively strong places of its long existence. Originals from local writers, special readings, the annual Melodrama and lots more come together to remind us that we are lucky to have this theater.

142 E De Vargas St., 988-4262

Whether it's death-defying stunts from high off the ground or massive puppets roaming protests and actions, Wise Fool is no stranger to upping the theatrical value of almost everything.

1132 Siler Road B, 992-2588

Kids just plain mean it more when it comes to theater, and the students at this venerable high school mean it most of all.

500 Montezuma Ave., 310-4194