Got those mid-winter blues yet? If so, step out of the cold and into the city’s hot bar spots to sample the creative fare on tap. The flavors will lift your spirits and remind you that spring is on its way. You’ll find plenty of places around town, and slightly out of town, where you can belly up to a bar or cozy up to a fireplace, relax and savor upscale fare along with craft cocktails. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.
There’s a reason why Del Charro Saloon bills itself as “Santa Fe’s watering hole.” It’s a popular place for locals to grab a bite and relish a well-made margarita. You can sit inside at the bar, where there are also tables, or on the spacious covered patio, where a fireplace adds warmth to the courtyard ambiance. Options are plenty, starting with house-made potato chips served with ranch or blue cheese dressing, and chile con queso, a creamy combo of melted pepper jack, cheddar and Gouda with green chile and tomatillo, served with chips. With five different burgers on the menu, this is a place for serious meat lovers. If you’re a green chile fan, go all out with the stuffed green chile cheeseburger, sporting applewood smoked bacon, green chile, Gorgonzola and house-made green relish. The Cowboy Bison Burger includes a bourbon-glazed charred onion. Vegetarians also have options, with the Veggie Plate, an assortment of seasonal raw vegetables, house-made sesame ginger dipping sauce, grilled tofu and ranch dressing. Searching for seafood? Check out the grilled salmon wrap, with black beans, fresh greens, red pepper coulis, crème fraîche and cucumber relish. Desserts include chocolate mousse cake, with an Oreo cookie shell and raspberry coulis, which might be just what you need on a dark winter’s night.
Enjoy an elevated experience at Bar Alto, perched atop the Drury Plaza Hotel like an eagle’s aerie. When you’re way up high, thoughts of winter may just slip away. You can sip creative cocktails such as Paloma Lavanda, an intoxicating blend of mezcal vida, lavender, grapefruit soda, and lime. Or order the Rosmarinus, made with Wheeler’s Gin, Cynar, lemon and rosemary. Snack on a cheese plate, with a selection of Spanish offerings, along with preserves and artisan bread. The charcuterie plate includes a variety of cured meats, pickles and mustard and comes with artisan bread. Or dive deep into Calamar Frita Japonesa, a plateful of tempura squid rings with yuzu-chile de arbol and habanero-lime aioli.
Loretto’s Living Room
When you’re in search of a thoroughly relaxing evening, head to the Living Room at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, where you can sink into oversize leather chairs and sofas that practically embrace you. In front of the large fireplace full of dancing flames, you’ll forget the chill of winter—maybe even more so if you’re there for live entertainment, scheduled Thursday through Saturday evenings. It’s also good to know the Living Room hosts a Happy Hour daily, from 4 to 6:30 pm. Order drinks—the Smoking Nun, named for the resident ghost, is the bar’s s signature libation, composed of rye, brandy, Grand Marnier and muddled oranges, touched with a tinge of smoke. If you have more than one, perhaps you, too, will see the spirit of Sister George famously smoking her cigar. Then savor hearty lounge fare including short rib nachos, loaded with red chile, pickled jalapeno and local cheddar. Flash fried calamari are accompanied by chile lime dip and green chile aioli. You can choose from a trio of sliders—green chile Kobe, luscious lobster, or BBQ smoked pork with slaw—or order all three. That should keep the winter blahs at bay.
Mine Shaft Tavern
A little jaunt lifts the soul in any season, so why not take a scenic drive along the Turquoise Trail to Madrid and The Mine Shaft Tavern, a ramshackle treasure steeped in the town’s rich mining history. This “cultural gem” is always packed with locals and out-of-towners who stop by for the atmosphere, the live music and the New Mexico roadhouse fare. You can order small plates such as panko-breaded fried artichoke hearts or a fried Hatch green chile basket, both served with ranch dip. Or feast on the MadChile burger, winner of the Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown’s People’s Choice Award. Pair that with the cucumber, jalapeño, lime and red chile-rimmed MadChile Margarita, and your winter woes will surely vanish.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead