Best of Santa Fe

Best of Santa Fe 2023 - Local Living

Neighborhood bests, plus parks, trails and life in Santa Fe

Best Business: Cerrillos Road

1. Beck & Bulow

When Santa Feans need a butcher, they visit the shop that Tony Beck and JP Bulow built. “We want to give a huge shout-out to our amazing customers for crowning us the best business on Cerrillos Road,” they say in a joint statement, adding that they’ve expanded their selection to include specialty meats and seafood. “Thank you for being part of our journey, and we can’t wait to bring you even , more goodness.”

1934 Cerrillos Road, (505) 428-6827

2. Del Norte Credit Union

Where do you take your bucks when you want to keep them safe and secure locally? Del Norte. This ain’t your mama’s faceless mega-bank of yesteryear—it’s a credit union. And if you don’t know the difference, it’s time to learn.

3286 Cerrillos Road, (505) 455-5528

3. Century Bank

Find local and long-lasting banking services from people in the community who actually care what happens to the people who live here. There’s little wonder Century has so many branches and customers.

4062 Cerrillos Road, (505) 995-1200

Best Business: Downtown

1. Collected Works

Independent bookstores are doing so much better in a post-Amazon world than anyone thought possible. Collected Works, for example, has remained such an iconic and adored local institution for decades now. “We’re doing very nicely, thank you,” says longtime owner Dorothy Massey, who also has a message for the fans about the accolade: “It’s the highlight of my day, my week—if not my year.”

202 Galisteo St., (505) 988-4226

2. Doodlet’s

If ever you’ve needed a gift for a brainy kid, a dorky dad, a sentimental pal or anyone in-between, Doodlets has had your back since 1955. The products range from science stuff and silly fun to kitschy, cute and beyond.

120 Don Gaspar Ave., (505) 983-3771

3. La Fonda on the Plaza

Did you know the historic downtown hotel hit its 100th birthday in 2022? That’s a lot of years of service. Still, for our money, the best parts have more to do with food at La Plazuela or the French Pastry Shop. You’ll find a killer bar with live music too!

100 E. San Francisco St., (505) 982-5511

Best Business: Eldorado

1. Café Fina

Owner/chef Murphy O’Brien has built quite the paradise just off I-25 on the outskirts of the Eldorado subdivision. So lauded, in fact, is O’Brien’s menu that SFR even recently declared that it’s just about perfect. Go for the brunchy/lunchy daytime service or to-go only dinners; stay devoted for the sweet treats, bakery case and coffee from Aroma. You might just find the best pie you’ve ever tasted in your life—we sure did.

624 Old Las Vegas Highway, (505) 466-3886

2. Santa Fe Brewing Co.

Santa Fe’s oldest and biggest micro-brewery isn’t so micro anymore, and it turns 35 this year! Owner Brian Lock has expanded everything, from the flagship HQ outside town to the downtown Brake Room tasting outpost, and, popularly, it seems, the Eldo Taphouse.

7 Caliente Road, (505) 466-6938

3. Jornada Chocolates

Should you find yourself in Eldorado and looking to beat that sweet tooth with something upscale and artisan-core, this new spot has already found a top place in our hearts.

7 Caliente Road, (505) 466-6915

Best Business: Railyard/Guadalupe District

1. Santa Fe Farmers’ Market

Not only is our local Farmers’ Market the type of place that lures everyone from chefs and home cooks to foodies, coffee fanatics and chile lovers, it has numerous community-minded programs on offer. The CSA alone would be worth it for bags of fresh food, but SNAP users can double their dollars with ease while knowing they’ll get the best-quality food available. See the goods on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

1607 Paseo de Peralta, (505) 983-4098

2. Violet Crown Cinema

Someplace between the cushy seats, the surprisingly good food, and the borderline ludicrous number of beers on tap, it hits you that going to the movies has never been quite so comfortable or tasty. We’ll take the Sour Patch Kids, thanks.

1606 Alcaldesa St., (505) 216-5678

3. FS2 Supply Co.

This locally owned clothier embraces all things New Mexico—and Santa Fe—in its designs across the board. From tees and loungewear, to warmer items, hats, kid’s stuff, onesies and more, slapping on something from FS2 proves you’re all about keeping it local.

500 Market St., Ste. 108, (505) 920-4356

Best Business: Rufina/Siler District

1. Big Jo True Value Hardware

2023 marks 40 years of business on Siler Road for Big Jo, according to owner Rick C De Baca, who chalks the win up to quality products and his crew’s outstanding customer service. “I mean, we’ve received statewide and national awards for our service,” he tells SFR. “We have the best crew, and there’s always somebody waiting for you up at the front, but we also appreciate [the customer] loyalty.”

1311 Siler Road, (505) 473-2255

2. Meow Wolf

This now-powerhouse arts company proves there’s a market for weirdos just looking to experience different forms of creativity. And though new locations will pop up in other states, Santa Fe will always be home base.

1352 Rufina Circle, (505) 395-6369

3. Second Street Brewery Rufina Taproom

Though locals will tell you that losing the OG Second Street on its namesake street still stings, the live music, cozy patio, consistent menu and stellar beers of the now-largest iteration of the company softens the blow with ease.

2920 Rufina St., (505) 954-1068

Best Business: Southside

1. Plaza Café Southside

It’s no small victory for a restaurant to take top honors in a category not specifically dedicated to food, but the Southside location of Santa Fe’s enduring Plaza Café has the juice to make it happen year after year. Find New Mexican favorites throughout the day, plus the first local eatery to serve up the Impossible Burger (others do it now, too, but the Plaza came first). Oh! And don’t sleep on the pie.

3466 Zafarano Drive, (505) 424-0755

2. Newman’s Nursery

In a city with a number of top-notch nurseries, Newman’s stands out with its weekly specials, local love and knowledgeable staff. In short, if you want to beautify your surroundings, this is a great place to start.

7501 Cerrillos Road, (505) 471-8642

3. The Cat

Thrifting remains one of the best ways to find hidden treasures, ranging from decor and housewares to the weirdest clothing items, unexpected furniture and so forth. When your purchase supports the Santa Fe Animal Shelter as it does at The Cat, all the better.

3546 Zafarano Drive, (505) 780-8975

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

1. The Candyman Strings & Things

A shop for musical instruments doesn’t stay open for 54 years without working its way into the hearts of the community, and that’s precisely what The Candyman has done. “Obviously it’s such an honor to get those banners and hang them up in the store,” owner Rand Cook, who has been with the store for 33 years, tells SFR. “[My wife and co-owner] Cindy and I and the entire staff are so completely humbled.”

851 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 983-5906

2. Botwin Eye Group/Oculus Optical

It might take a minute to get your eye exam with these longtime local pros, but it just speaks to the level of trust its doctors and locals share. Once you know what’s up, you can get some sweet frames too.

444 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 438-2020

3. Anthony’s Grill

Everyone loves the Asian fusion cuisine available at Anthony’s, but in a way that almost borders on obsessive. To put it bluntly, try it once, and you’ll probably become a convert for life. Mongolian, Vietnamese, Chinese—they do it all.

1622 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 365-2932

Best Business: Westside/Alameda/Agua Fría

1. La Montañita Co-op

You don’t need to be a member to reap the benefits of La Montañita’s always-fresh and organic products, but it doesn’t hurt. Pro tip? Grab a generously huge breakfast burrito on your way to work for a bit of that New Mexican taste, but remember you’ll also find the best veggies and fruit, not to mention a robust selection of vitamins, meats and more. Plus, gifts and flowers too.

913 W. Alameda St., (505) 984-2852

2. Plants of the Southwest

Where to go when you want to mindfully source native or desert-adaptive plants, seeds, grasses, shrubs, cactuses and so much more? If you want it pretty without water waste, start here.

3095 Agua Fría St., (505) 438-8888

3. Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery

Locally made beers and spirits intersect with a cavernous events space that has proven indispensable since it opened five years ago. Where would punk, metal, DJs and hip-hop be without Tumbleroot? Nowhere.

2791 Agua Fría St., (505) 393-5135

Best Eco-Friendly Business

1. Agua Fría Nursery

Of course it’s wonderful to see the top prize go to the Pennington family, who have owned the business since 1975 and put a special emphasis on plants that do well in New Mexico. “We are blessed to have the hardest-working people around, and our customers are the best,” says family member Shane, son of originators Bob and Jenni. “We are simultaneously thrilled and humbled by people’s votes. Thank you, thank you!”

1409 Agua Fría St., (505) 983-4831

2. Reunity Resources

This community-minded nonprofit farm not only grows some of the best stuff, it hosts concerts and comedy, provides a free pantry for folks in need, and teaches anyone interested how to get down on the farm in style.

1829 San Isidro Crossing, (505) 393-1196

3. Soap & Supply

Soap is non-negotiable at this point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace this local company and its zero-waste mission to refill rather than buy and rebuy single-use plastic. So long, nightmare labyrinth of synthetic materials!

1925 Rosina St., Unit A, (505) 772-0644

Best Employer

1. The Food Depot

Though Santa Fe nonprofit The Food Depot does amazing things with more than 70 partner orgs and across nine New Mexico counties, there might be an ulterior motive to its workers’ love of helping hungry people—it feels great to help. “How could you not love working for a place where you get to make a difference in people’s lives every single day?” queries Deputy Director Jill Dixon. “It’s incredibly joyful—the kind of thing that makes stress melt away.”

1222 Siler Road A, (505) 471-1633

2. CHRISTUS St. Vincent

One of Santa Fe’s largest employers also happens to be a local favorite when it comes to places to work. Our lives inevitably bring us back around to the hospital; isn’t it better to have happy people working there?

455 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 913-3361

3. Solace Sexual Assault Services

Though the prevailing hope is that you need never to engage with Solace’s many services and counselors, it’s still nice to know there are people dedicated to being there for survivors of sexual violence, stalking and even trafficking.

6601 Valentine Way, (505) 988-1951

Best New Book by a New Mexico Author

Silver Box by Natachee Momaday Gray

Though the local poet only just released her first semi-autobiographical compendium of writings last April, it has clearly already made an impact on local readers with its wry wit and vulnerable storytelling. “I continue to be in awe of how the release of this silly book of poetry has changed my life and given me wings,” Momaday Gray tells SFR. “It was such a long labor of love…I am overwhelmed by the love it has received.”

Hit the Road by Zélie Pollon

The author/journalist lays out a roadmap for badass moms who want to traipse the globe with their kiddos, from remote work, schooling, making friends, emergencies and much more. There’s even an audio version from Audible for when you do hit the road.

Bella: Collector of Cuentos by Carmen Baca

Baca merges YA fantasy with a bit of Pan’s Labyrinth oddity and beloved New Mexico folklore for the tale of a teen who comes into her own after discovering a world hidden to most other humans. Fun and factual? Sold!

Best New Business

1. Los Poblanos Farm Shop Norte

While downtown tourists can peruse the many home and kitchen items at the northern outpost of the Albuquerque-based farm brand, locals will find lots to drink and taste while they hang on the patio at the corner of Washington and Marcy. Pro tip: Get a box of the goat milk caramels in the shop, then sip fancy lemonade in the seating area.

201 W. Washington Ave., (505) 808-1713

2. Santa Fe Play

Kids love being outside, but it’s not always doable, especially in winter. Enter Santa Fe Play, an indoor playground with bounce houses, climbing structures and flooring so soft even the most fretful parent can breathe easy.

19 Plaza La Prensa, (505) 819-3749

3. Pie Projects Gallery

True story—we don’t think there’s been a single show at new-ish contempo gallery Pie Projects since it opened in 2021 that hasn’t made the SFR culture team gasp once we’ve seen the images. OK, so it’s not new new—it still rules.

924 B Shoofly St., (505) 372-7681

Best Nonprofit

1. The Food Depot

The universal cause of helping folks get fed is business as usual for The Food Depot, who work across nine counties in New Mexico. “It feels good to be recognized for what we do best,” says Deputy Director Jill Dixon, who adds that everyone at the nonprofit, from the volunteers to the admin staff, is more fired up than ever to help New Mexicans in need. They handed out roughly 10 million pounds of food last year!

1222 Siler Road A, (505) 471-1633

2. Kitchen Angels

Hungry New Mexicans might not be able to make it out of the house to an organization that offers food, and that’s where Kitchen Angels comes in—by delivering prepared food to the homebound among us.

1222 Siler Road, (505) 471-7780

3. Esperanza Shelter

This indispensable local organization helps survivors of violence and abuse take the first steps toward reclaiming their lives and moving forward across a wide array of services. “Violence does not have to follow you into the future,” reads the website. Amen.

3130 Rufina St., (505) 474-5536

Best Nonprofit for the Environment

1. Santa Fe Botanical Garden

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden has only really been open for 10 years, but is so woven into the fabric of Santa Fe’s existence that it feels like it’s always been here. Now with its three planned phases on Musuem Hill completed, the garden is a magical cross-section of the flora that makes our region so lovely. The garden offers a plethora of education and conservation programs.

715 Camino Lejo, (505) 471-9103

2. Reunity Resources

In addition to its farmy goodness, Reunity’s compost collection program is unmatched in town, as is its commitment to sustainable agriculture, feeding folks and education.

1829 San Isidro Crossing, (505) 393-1196

3. Santa Fe Watershed Association

With water being one of the most valuable commodities in the region, this org dedicated to the protection and revitalization of the Santa Fe River is just about as important as it gets.

1413 Second St., #3, (505) 820-1696

Best Outdoor Trail

Galisteo Basin Preserve

If you head a mere 14 miles outside town, you’ll find it—that beautifully preserved 10,000-ish acres where the views stretch as far as the eye can see, thanks to the Commonweal Conservancy, which is undertaking a $350,000 stewardship campaign. The Galisteo Basin Preserve is a must for outdoorsy types, or even the indoor kids who just need a little beauty.

Astral Valley Road,

Aspen Vista

Heck, yeah, that’s a great name for this rocky but doable 6-mile trail that wends its way to the most gorgeous conglomeration of aspens in the area—maybe the whole dang world. Can you believe we live near that?

Hyde Park Road

Dale Ball Trails

They say the classics never go out of style, and the enduring popularity of the Dale Ball Trails pretty much proves that. Can you call yourself a local if you’ve never trekked this network?

Entrances at Hyde Park Road and Upper Canyon Road

Best Park

1. Railyard Park Conservancy

Once a big fat plot of nothing, the Railyard Park has become a well-loved and central bit of land that plays host to playing children, art markets, music and festival events and, as of this year, the International Folk Art Market. Visitors may climb on boulders, sit in the human-sized bird nest or peep at the community garden. It’s a nice stroll, too, on summer evenings.

805 Early St., 204B, (505) 316-3596

2. Harvey Cornell Rose Park

Who knew this park was named after a guy named Harvey? Not us. To be fair, though, we know it as the place where people do tai chi and slacklining, LARPing and picnicking; it’s where they literally smell the roses.

1320 Galisteo Parkway

3. Fort Marcy Park

Santa Fe loves Fort Marcy for the annual burning of Zozobra for sure, but its health facilities, pool and pleasant walking trail encircle an inviting park for anyone looking to get outside a bit.

490 Bishops Lodge Road, (505) 955-2500

Best Place to Work

1. The Food Depot

You voted it the best employer, but it sounds like the day-to-day work culture at Santa Fe’s most excellent food bank is also a winner. As Deputy Director Jill Dixon said in a previous listing, it’s about helping people. Having a purpose and making a difference? Always cool. Volunteer work is work too, and this place depends on that part of its labor force for certain.

1222 Siler Road A, (505) 471-1633

2. CHRISTUS St. Vincent

Speaking of making a difference, the hospital is where it all happens, and its workers from admin to the ER floor apparently love being there. That’s kind of what you want in health care workers.

455 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 913-3361

3. The Candyman Strings & Things

Maybe you’ve noticed the people who work at the Candyman tend to stay there for years and years? Oh, the discounts on instruments and amps and accessories can’t hurt, but we think this one is ultimately about being a part of something.

851 St. Michael’s Drive, (505) 983-5906

Best Senior Living

1. The Montecito

From independent and assisted living to good food, homey interiors and plenty of activities and amenities—live music, even—this resort-style senior living facility has been at the top of this category for years running. The Montecito even has state-of-the-art memory care, room for pets and the Garbo’s Restaurant on its 15-acre campus.

500 Rodeo Road, (505) 428-7777

2. El Castillo/La Secoya

This one’s the type of assisted living facility that looks and feels more like a home, and with multiple floor plans to choose from and sweeping Santa Fe views, residents kind of have it all within striking distance of the downtown Santa Fe highlights.

250 E. Alameda St., (505) 988-2877

3. Kingston Residence of Santa Fe

This Southside elder living facility boasts more space than you might think, plus a location conveniently nearby shopping, dining and more. Programs include a chess club, guided museum tours and plenty more, plus bilingual workers.

2400 Legacy Court, (505) 471-2400

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