Summer Guide

Tailgate Takeout

Throw together a Santa Fe Opera tailgate picnic with items from local shops

Summer Guide 2024 (Anson Stevens-Bollen, Alex De Vore)

The traditional Santa Fe Opera tailgating experience constitutes one of Santa Fe’s most delightful idiosyncrasies. If you’ve somehow never heard about this enduring event, behold the simple concept: Santa Fe Opera patrons, often dressed to the nines, hang around in the SFO parking lot before performances and engage in all manner of dining and drinking. Spreads range from bougie to dressed down; some feel like an excuse to pop a nice bottle (or can) of something, throw back a few cheeses and revel before some of the best singers in the world belt out the comedies, tragedies and world premiers that have become synonymous with our local (yet internationally beloved) Santa Fe Opera. Should you wish to be one of those tailgating partygoers, throw together a most notable meal—with drinks and desserts, obviously—with items from the following local shops.

Whole Wheat Boule from Bread Shop

1703 Lena St., (505) 230-8421,

Though it has only been open a scant few years, Midtown bakery Bread Shop has become the go-to, well, bread shop, for anyone in search of a killer loaf. If you’re tailgating and looking for something to include, the boule ($9.75) is not only a dense and surprisingly tangy option for spreads, oils or butter, it’s the type of bread that would make for a sturdy sandwich (more on that in a sec). Bread Shop founders Jacob Brenner and Mayme Berman, who recently welcomed their first child, (congrats!), also make some of the best sandwiches in town—all with seasonal ingredients. Pro tip? You can also purchase tinned fish, local carrots and other seasonal accoutrements to put on said bread. One more tip? You’ll want a good, sharp knife for slicing that boule when the time comes.

Meats and Cheeses from The Deli at Sassella

216 McKenzie St., (505) 954-1568,

Downtown fine dining eatery Sassella got into the deli game during the pandemic, a time when restaurants were offering myriad new products and services to get by; it has, thankfully, stuck around to this day with its veritable cornucopia of meats, cheeses, oils, spreads, chips and more—most of which is imported from Italy. In other words, if you want to wow your guests with killer sandwiches, this little downtown deli around the corner from the flagship restaurant should absolutely be on your list. According to the deli’s Frank Sioux Bob (who took a break from handmaking pasta for the restaurant to show off some of the offerings), Sassella’s prosciutto offerings are a good place to start. The cotto, for example, is a borderline melty delight that clocks in at $2.39 an ounce. The prosciutto crudo ($2.39 per ounce) is no joke, either, and offers a slightly earthier taste than its cousin. Don’t sleep on the mortadella with pistachios ($2.29 per ounce) while you’re building that sandwich, or the coppa ($2.79 per ounce), an altogether denser piece of meat culled from pork shoulder that’ll make you forget you ever cared about salami. Sioux Bob also recommends the parmesano regianato cheese ($1.98 per ounce and much more substantial than you’d expect) and the meredith goat cheese ($3.49 per ounce)—easily one of the creamiest cheeses available in town right now.

Charcuterie Board from Picnic NM Cheese & Charcuterie

505 Cerrillos Road,

Longtime Santa Fe cheeseheads will surely recognize cheesemongers and couple Lauren Stutzman and Matthew Bilodeau from local restaurants, the Whole Foods cheese section and the tragically gone Cheesemonger cheese shop. Luckily, they’ve landed on their feet inside the CHOMP food hall with Picnic NM, a cheese shop with options you’ll never find anywhere else. Stutzman and Bilodeau also make one hell of a charcuterie board for opera-goers, which, Stutzman tells SFR, will be available to order via throughout the upcoming season. At $60, said board can feed quite a few people, depending on appetites, and includes cheeses like lindeline from Wisconsin’s Blakesville Creamery; pascualino from Finca Pascualete in Extremadura, Spain; and a new cow-based variety dubbed alp blossom from the Sennerei Huban cheesemaking collective in Austria. Throw in some meat and cucumber florets, grapes, olives, artichoke hearts, chocolates and a whole mess of sturdy cheese-bearing crackers, and you’ve just won the party.

Canned Wine and/or Mini Sake from Susan’s Fine Wine & Spirits

632 Agua Fría St., (505) 984-1582,

Conventional wisdom tells us to bring bottled wine to opera events, but with a whole wide world of canned options out there that prove how new ways are sometimes just as good, now’s the time to make the foray into the unexpected. Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits has any number of options to try out, including the Sans Wine Co.’s carbonic carignan and/or sauvignon blanc ($7.99 apiece and so worth it to not worry about open containers or broken glass). Those who well and truly want to be the talk of the tailgate, however, might opt for either the Snow Angel ($6.99) or Yuki Otoko “Yeti” ($9.99) mini-sake options. Both are adorable and reportedly delicious, according to Susan’s employee Brian Felley, who also tells SFR the staff is happy to help anyone pick out a nice rose or similar wine (or anything else, really) to capture those summer vibes.

Mini Cookies/Macarons from Chainé Specialty Cookie Shop

38 Burro Alley, (505) 477-3235,

Though local cookie genius Chaine Peña unexpectedly shuttered her Chainé cookie shop on Water Street in 2021, she returned (thank God) on Burro Alley in February and is once again kicking out the most fantastic cookies you’re likely to find in town. For the 2024 Santa Fe Opera season, Peña has even been kind enough to concoct a special offering—mini versions of her chocolate chip, lemon meringue and almond cookies, plus the same high-quality macarons for which she’s known. While the slightly salty edge of the chocolate chip cookie seems a nigh-perfect marriage of savory and sweet, the lemony insides melded with sugar cookie goodness might steal the show. You can mix and match to your heart’s content if you give Peña enough warning, too, with each cookie running $3.

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