Santa Fe's nightlife is amping up
While Santa Fe is famous for its art, culture, dining, shopping and great outdoors, it isn't exactly renowned for its nightlife. Many restaurants stop serving at 9 pm, even on weekends, and some great dance clubs have come and gone, including The Paramount and Drama Club.
But the times they are a-changing , thanks to some new late night venues and a mayor dedicated to sparking the city's nightlife with initiatives that include Night Wave, a city-funded three-night music festival aimed at jump-starting a stagnant downtime nighttime economy, and a big party on the Plaza to ring in 2016.
Now there some great options for late-night dining, live music, dance and more, and not just on the weekends, but every night. Here's a short list of just some of Santa Fe's nightlife hot spots, guaranteed to keep you well-fed and having fun long after the sun goes down.
At Del Charro Saloon, there's always a crowd enjoying the Tex Mex fare along with signature margaritas and cocktails. Located inside the Inn of the Governors, this rustic, Western-themed hot spot serves delicious and affordable fare until midnight, with daily specials like pulled pork or Kobe beef sliders, chicken-fried chicken and carne adovada-stuffed burritos. Del Charro bills itself as “Santa Fe's watering hole,” and locals agree, having voted the bar into first place for Best Cocktails, Best Happy Hour and Best Local Bar in the Santa Fe Reporter's Best of Santa Fe 2015 contest. Buzzfeed named it the most popular bar in all of New Mexico.
This is certainly one of my top spots to take out-of-town guests for margaritas and a big ol' pile of Nachos Royale, made with grilled chicken, chipotle cream sauce, black beans, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and jalapenos. The burgers are great, too, including the New Mexico Green Chile Cheeseburger, featuring local grass-fed beef, local cheddar cheese and Hatch green chile. Or try the Cowboy Bison Burger, served with bourbon-glazed, charred red onion. Quench your thirst with a Del Charro margarita—there are more than half a dozen creative concoctions, including the Sauza Tequila Pomegranate Margarita and the Margarita Caliente, infused with New Mexico green-chile mango.
Tiny's Restaurant & Lounge is a longtime Santa Fe nightlife landmark, a family-owned bar and restaurant for more than 60 years. Grab a seat in the dining room, adorned with photographs of local musicians as well as other subjects by Coad Miller, or on the patio, where a fountain depicting St. Francis is shaded by a cherry tree. The traditional New Mexican food, made from scratch, includes Frito pie, green chile cheese fries, and chile rellenos, named Best Chile Rellenos in Santa Fe by Travel + Leisure. Steaks are big on the menu, too, from a 12-ounce charbroiled rib-eye steak to Fiesta Sirloin steak with red and green chile. Be sure to bring you dancing shoes, as Tiny's is known for hosting Santa Fe's best bands, and it's a great place to dance the night away.
La Fonda's newly renovated La Fiesta Lounge is another late night favorite with locals and visitors alike, serving food and drinks until 11 pm. Housed in one of Santa Fe's historic treasures and former Harvey House, La Fiesta Lounge offers live music and dancing in a lively setting. The new menu features Beef Tenderloin Cassoulet with Hatch green chile-mushroom cream crustades; Crispy Smoked Pork Belly with sweet corn pudding tamal, guajillo honey and spiced pepitas; Braised Shortrib Tacos with Jicama Slaw, Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Corn Tortillas and Crispy Fried Oysters with Smoked Jalapeno Aioli and Shredded Lettuce. Don't miss the signature drinks from the resident mixologists and tequila and beer flights.
The Cowgirl is a mainstay in Santa Fe's nightlife scene, serving dinner until 11 pm. It's been featured on multiple Food Network shows and in many influential publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. This is a popular place to see and be seen, whether you take a seat in the colorful dining rooms or on the front patio, which is always packed during nice weather. Serving up some bodacious BBQ since 1993, the Cowgirl has a huge menu, full of fare that will give you ample energy to dance to the excellent live music the venue is known for. Check out the Mother of All Green Chile Cheeseburgers, winner of the People's Choice Award in the very first Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. You'll see why this won as soon as you bite into the beef and buffalo patty with applewood smoked bacon, melted brie and truffled green chile. Or try the BBQ Sampler Platter, a combo of mesquite-smoked ribs, brisket and chicken. Choose from a dozen craft brews on tap and specialty margaritas to keep your whistle whet.
The Eldorado Hotel's Agave Lounge offers an hip, urban setting to enjoy a late-night drinks and food until 11 pm. The menu features the green chile cheeseburger that won the People's Choice award in the 2015 Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. The winning burger is made with New Mexico green chile, goat cheese, bacon and Kobe beef, and it served with hand-cut fries. The menu also includes shared plates and apps such as Sriracha Honey Wings, green chile Kobe sliders, mesquite grilled chicken and cheese quesadilla, calamari and spinach & feta artichoke dip. Pair your food with specialty cocktails and an extensive wine list.
If you find yourself craving gourmet pizza after a movie or concert at the Lensic, head over to Rooftop Pizzeria, open until 11 pm. on the weekends (from Memorial Day to Labor Day). This is no ordinary pizza. The toppings are so inventive and delicious that the eatery has been featured on Chuck Hughes' Food Network show, “Eat the Street.” My favorite pizza here is the #3, a blue corn crust stopped with roast chicken, green chile, toasted pinon nuts, cotija and asadero and alfredo sauce. But you should also try the #4, with smoked duck, capers, spinach, basil and four cheeses. The #5, a BLT made with applewood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce, blue cheese and four cheeses with red sauce on an artisan crust is also amazing. And where else in the world can you find anything like the #10, made with lobster, shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, mushroom, green onion, truffle oil and four cheeses on blue corn crust?
If the weather's nice, sit on the patio where you can catch a glorious sunset or watch the busy street life below. If pizza's not your thing, there's plenty of antipasti, salad and pasta dishes to order. The wine list offers more than 20 varietals by the glass and plenty of New Mexico microbrews are served on top.