Best Business: Cerrillos Road

One of Santa Fe's favorite global destinations within the city limits, Jambo remains a winner in multiple Best of Santa Fe categories year after year. Chef Ahmed Obo's delightful "African homestyle cuisine" is also delivered via two Jambo Hapa food trucks, plus catering for families in the distinctive Afro-Caribbean style the restaurant has come to be known for. We're hankering for plantains and a plate of chicken curry while we write this.

 2010 Cerrillos Road, #2010, 473-1269

In 1948, The Pantry started serving up its Northern New Mexico comfort food classics. The homestyle vibe isn't about yearning for some fancy plate, but about soaking the chile off the bottom of yours with a warm tortilla.

1820 Cerrillos Road, 986-0022

The member-owned credit union exclusively serves the financial needs of people and businesses in Northern New Mexico. The Cerrillos Road branch is one of three in Santa Fe, with others in White Rock and Española.

3286 Cerrillos Road, 988-3628

Best Business: Downtown

The reigning champ in the Best Gift Store and Best Children's store category as well, Doodlet's should be on every shopper's list of downtown stops. In a world full of big, complicated things, find small, simple items that also come with immeasurable joy. Outfit the corners and cubbies of the kitchen, library, nursery and more without leaving behind too many dollar bills. Theo Raven founded the store in 1955, the same year its second owner Lisa Arnold was born. She took over in 2010.

120 Don Gaspar Ave., 983-3771

La Fonda is not just a place to lay the head. Visitors have fond memories of margaritas with the view from the Bell Tower, or two-stepping at La Fiesta Lounge, plus La Plazuela restaurant, gift shop and more independent retail spots.

100 E San Francisco St., 982-5511

The gallery began as a co-op for Zuni arts and crafts, and it still focuses on direct relationships with individual carvers, potters and jewelers. Find the well-known, palm-sized animal fetishes of this tradition, along with other works, online.

227 Don Gaspar Ave., 989-8728

Best Business: Eldorado

You know a place is really starting to thrive when it sustains two pizza parlors. Eldorado's branch of Upper Crust is the reader favorite in Santa Fe's bedroom community that's north of the city on I-25 but south on the map. Don't feel upside down, just find your way to the easy-access restaurant that is the newest arrival in the area. Get the same great gluten-free crust option as downtown, plus a new delivery partnership that kicked off this spring with the arrival of public health restrictions. Empty your to-go box on the sunny patio if you want.

5 Colina Drive, 471-1111

With a fine-dining feeling and a feel-good focus, Arable has become one of Eldorado's destinations for even those who aren't in the neighborhood. How can a shopping center patio feel so fabulous? Must be the food and the fauna.

7 Avenida Vista Grande (in the Agora), 303-3816

We just love that after the humans in your life eat some of the best food in Santa Fe, this store is nearby to cater to dogs, cats, birds and unicorns. Every mythical beast in your life says thanks for shopping local and choosing nutritional food.

7 Avenida Vista Grande Suite, B5 (in the Agora), 466-1270 

Best Business: Railyard/Guadalupe District

Whether under the portal on the Railyard alameda, near the water tank in the sweltering summer sun or inside the bright pavilion on winter Saturdays, the Santa Fe Farmers Market HQ takes a prominent place in the shopping landscape. It's no wonder readers picked it for first place in the Railyard/Guadalupe District again, as it's our community's most direct connection between local food and kitchen tables.

1607 Paseo de Peralta, 983-4098

The busy movie theater's lobby restaurant and bar had been a hot gathering spot across Santa Fe's wide spectrum before public health closures shuttered the building. Fear not, Violet Crown is still serving up flicks online for now.

1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678

At presstime, this location remained temporarily closed due to public health orders, but Second Street Original on Second Street and its Rufina Taproom locations are still going strong. Look toward reopening of the Railyard's shady patio overlooking the water tower and plaza.

1607 Paseo de Peralta, Ste. 10, 989-3278

Best Business: Siler Road Corridor

Northern New Mexico's food bank was already a huge player in addressing hunger among vulnerable people, but in the wake of COVID-19, its importance seems all the more front and center. Jill Dixon, The Food Depot's director of development, tells SFR the organization is still compiling official data on the change in food insecurity this year, but she knows the need has increased dramatically—as much as 30%.

1222 A Siler Road, 471-1633

The arts juggernaut's House of Eternal Return drew millions through its immersive doors, and the space that was once a bowling alley became a coveted venue for concerts. It's closed right now due to public health orders.

1352 Rufina Circle, 395-6369

Customer service that patrons can rely on has long been the guiding principle that keeps local shoppers here instead of in a big box down the road. Big Jo is also the first-place winner in Best Hardware Store. Go figure.

1311 Siler Road, 473-2255

Best Business: Southside

All of the winners in the Best Business on the Southside category this year are places where people gather to enjoy food and drink, but the anchor of the San Ysidro Plaza has been the top favorite time and again. Menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the Razatos family's Plaza Cafe Southside are thoughtful and satisfying for the whole family, and there's enough neon, chrome and shiny seats in the joint to remind you of the diner atmosphere from way back.

3466 Zafarano Drive, 424-0755

Not just barbeque, but let's talk about how much deliciousness that brisket delivers every time. And lest we leave out the cornbread. Chef Josh Baum and his wife Ann Gordon have transitioned to carry-out for the time being. How much can you carry?

2571 Cristo's Road, 424-8900

Gluten-free desserts almost every night? Yes, please. That's not the only thing to nod your head about. Seasonal menu shifts, Sunday mimosas, housemade sausage and lots of local ingredients affirm why we're dining here.

2801 Rodeo Road, 471-3800

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

If Grand Central Station were a music store in New Mexico's capital city, there's no doubt the trains would pull into and out of The Candyman. Sure, strings are in the name, but it's the thousands of other things that make it the city's busy hub of musicality—not the least of which are music classes for the large and small (yes, now remote, too). Find instruments to buy and rent, recording and amplification gear, educational materials and more.

851 St. Michael's Drive, 983-5906

Since 2016, even people who don't work for the state are eligible to become members of this credit union with a prominent location on St. Mike's. Now anyone can experience the mission of "friendly, personalized financial services."

813 St. Michael's Drive, 983-7328

Snug between the Coca-Cola distribution facility on San Mateo and McDonald's on St. Michael's Drive, this credit union branch is in the true center of the city. Visit the night drop or the drive-through options.

604 W San Mateo Road, 988-3628

Best Business: Westside/Alameda/Agua Fria

The second and third generation in the Pennington family kept the nursery growing during the early weeks of the pandemic through curbside service and sheer determination. Its local-centric bent on perennials is likely to keep shoppers seeking them out year-round for years to come, and it's the reason the nursery comes out on top of the businesses on the Westside in this brand new Best of Santa Fe category. It's also the Best Garden/Plant Store.

1409 Agua Fria St., 983-4831

Members of the co-op get a dividend every year, along with special deals throughout the seasons. But you don't have to be a member to shop here for groceries or a meal.

913 West Alameda St., Solano Center, 984-2852

It's only been open at this spot for a few years, but the neighborhood bar and restaurant became a quick hit. SFR has raved collectively about the winter addition of dumpling night and looks forward to the end of a temporary closure.

2791 Agua Fria St., 780-5730

Best Hiking/Biking/Walking Trail

The evolution of the paved Santa Fe River Trail in the last decade has left people who live and work in the area astounded, as well as stamped an indelible impression on visitors who seek the city's out-of-car experiences. Now it stretches across the equator of the city, from the shady sidewalks and picnic benches on the east side near Patrick Smith Park, through downtown hideouts that offer respite from government buildings, past Alto Park and under Siler Road. Watch for more to come.

Managed by the city and county, 955-6664

Trailheads for this 22-mile network at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, near Cerro Gordo Road and Upper Canyon Road, are close to downtown.

Managed by the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, 989-7019

Accessed from US 84/285 south of Eldorado, the preserve is nearly 10,000 acres and 28 miles of dirt track suitable for mountain bikes, equestrians and just plain walking for anyone who wants that.

Managed by Commonwheel Conservancy, 690-3094

Best Nonprofit

Volunteers who return to the warehouse and food distribution locations testify to the organization's massive influence. It's no wonder that celebrities the likes of Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown and UFC Champion Jon "Not Bones Anymore" Jones have made big donations in the last year. Couple that with corporate support from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Triad LLC and thousands of smaller donations for the community to understand just a fraction of how The Food Depot feeds the hungry.

1222 A Siler Road, 471-1633

This flock of angels uses a commercial kitchen and a fleet of private vehicles to help get volunteer cooked and delivered meals to those who need them, and has been doing so since 1992.

1222 Siler Road, 471-7780

The living history museum features original colonial buildings from the early 1700s as well as re-creations of other historical buildings from around New Mexico. Sadly, the festival schedule and tours are on hold this fall.

334 Los Pinos Road, 471-2261

Best Nonprofit for Animals

Santa Fe loves its furry friends so hard. And the animal community today is better off with the ceaseless work of Northern New Mexico's only open-admission, no-kill shelter. Located on a 100-acre campus just outside town, the shelter enriches the lives of its residents with walking trails, play yards and public dog parks. Support its operations by shopping at The Cat thrift stores, located at 3546 Zafarano Drive and 2570 Camino Entrada.

100 Caja del Rio Road, 983-4309

Located about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, the Española shelter works to create a healthier community for pets, their families and their neighbors.

108 Hamm Parkway, Española, 753-8662

A ranch in Cerrillos provides a safe place for abused and neglected horses to rehabilitate and potentially find new adoptive homes. A thrift store in Santa Fe helps pay for it.

821 W. San Mateo Road, 471-6179

Best Nonprofit for the Environment

The men and women who founded this organization in the '90s set out to preserve access to Atalaya Mountain. Today, the group has influenced the development of more than 75 miles of public trails in some of the region's outdoor jewels, including the Dale Ball Trails, Rail Trail, Sun Mountain and La Piedra Open Space. Santa Fe depends on the trust for environmental protections and other advocacy leadership.

400 Kiva Court, 989-7019

The nonprofit works hard to improve the health of the Santa Fe River for the benefit of the environment and the community through advocacy, education, stewardship and restoration.

1413 Second St., Ste. 3, 820-1696

The headquarters of the organization is in Santa Fe, but it has offices in seven other states full of lawyers and advocates working to defend Chaco Canyon, the Mexican spotted owl, grizzlies, lobos and all the wild places and creatures.

301 N. Guadalupe St. Ste. 201

Santa Fe Railyard Park
Santa Fe Railyard Park | Kelli Johansen

Best Park

These 11 acres in the Railyard are a consistent favorite on our readers' list of the best parks. It's no wonder: The planning that went into the space more than a decade ago was kind of a big deal. New York landscape architect Ken Smith won a competitive process to design the park. His plans for the placement of its native plants and flowers, along with walking and bike paths and a play area match the old railroad alignment and are laid out to recall the boxcars and loading docks of days gone by.

Railyard Park Conservancy, 805 Early St., 316-3596

This 16-acre westside park is named for Bernard "Frenchy" Parachou, who ran the Sunshine Dairy on the location for 50 years. Now its wildflowers signal more sunny days. Cross a bridge over the Santa Fe River to connect to the River Trail.

2001 Agua Fria St. 

Meet us by second base the next time Zozobra's burn involves a crowd of people. In the meantime, newly rebuilt bridges over the arroyo are a great place to make a wish. Submit virtual Gloom this year to help the Kiwanis causes at BurnMyGloom.com.

490 Bishops Lodge Road

Best Place to Work

Of the many disappointments this summer as the state copes with public health orders, the cancellation of the first Santa Fe Opera season since it was founded in 1956 delivered a most crushing blow to the culture scene. The celebrated opera's musicians, technical workers and other seasonal employees are loyal to its mission and looking forward to the next season.

301 Opera Drive, 986-5900

The nonprofit hospital in Santa Fe isn't the only one in the city anymore, but it's still a favorite among workers who named it among the best this year. Christus Health's expansive group of providers touches on many specialities.

455 St. Michaels Drive, 913-3361

The credit union encourages a healthy work-life balance and also works toward longtime employees with programs that encourage staff members to pursue personal development and further their careers through on-the-job training.

510 N Guadalupe St., Ste. A, 988-3628;
604 W San Mateo Road, 988-3628;
3286 Cerrillos Road, 455-5228

Best Public Servant

For the second year running, readers have named Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham the best in this category. The governor's gutsy leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic endears her to the science- and health-loving public. Weekly public addresses that feature cabinet secretaries and community leaders are putting her face, her voice, and most importantly, her ideas before more people, more often.

By the time the 2021 Best of Santa takes place, Ben Ray Lujan will likely be the region's new US senator. He's stepping down from the 3rd Congressional District seat he's held in the House of Representatives since 2009 to run for that office.

This city councilor didn't know she'd been nominated, so she was surprised to learn she landed in the Top 3. We were not surprised. Renee Villarreal does her homework and speaks boldly. She's served District 1 since 2016.

Best Tour Business

Allan Pacheco's tours of historic downtown and of the region's more spirited history are as infamous as the ghosts of Julia Staab at La Posada and the hauntings on East de Vargas Street. His tours include details of grisly crimes, historic mysteries, corruption and capitalism and other macabre tales that are fun for your out-of-town guests or maybe just as a quirky date night.

986-5002

These classic two-hour walking tours depart daily, April through October, from the New Mexico History Museum and feature commentary on architecture, culture and history.

113 Lincoln Ave. 476-5200

Bike, hike, ride in a Jeep or any number of other moving things on your next adventure. Even with limits on visitors because of public health orders, this company is keeping at it this summer with vigor.

711 Don Diego Ave., 988-4000