Summertime in Santa Fe

Santafe.com - June 20, 2017

Some of Santa Fe's best summer spots for garden dining, sunset views and more

Summer officially is here! Time to break out the barbecue, enjoy a gourmet picnic and make a toast to Santa Fe's famous sunsets from scenic spots, preferably with a craft cocktail in hand. Everyone has their favorite go-place for award-winning food and craft cocktails al fresco, whether it's in a restaurant's rambling garden, a rooftop bar or a great place for people-watching. Here are just a few of mine.

Start your day with luscious scones served with clotted cream and lemon curd on the terrace of The Teahouse. Pair your breakfast with the perfect tea, chosen from the restaurant's impressive tea menu, and listen to the birds sing their songs as they flit among the trees on one of Santa Fe's most fabled streets. Afterwards, take a stroll down Canyon Road and admire the work displayed in one of the country's top art markets.

When it's lunchtime, head over to 35 Degrees North and put together a picnic with the BST Croissant—bacon, spinach and heirloom tomato—along with the Garden Box,packed with hummus white cheddar, carrot and nuts (for a vegetarian version, try the Grazing Box,with hummus instead of ham. Throw in an order of beignets, dusted with powdered sugar and paired with berry coulis or dark chocolate sauce. Then walk across the Plaza and up to Cathedral Park, where you can find a bench in a shady spot and enjoy lunch.

Order a craft cocktail from Santa Fe's famed mixologist Chris Milligan at Secreto Lounge and relax in a seat on the patio overlooking the heart of downtown, with great opportunities for watching the city's street life go by. Milligan's seasonal garden-to-glass concoctions and classically inspired cocktails showcase local, regional and international flavors. Try the Smoked Sage Margarita, featuring smoked sage that is infused into the margarita as well as a hickory smoked salt rim. The Agave Way is a blend of green chile, black grapes, Espolon Reposada Tequila, lime juice and agave nectar.

Before the sun sets, head up to La Fonda's Bell Tower Bar for breathtaking views of the city and surrounding mountains. Savor small plates of quesadillas—pork carnitas, grilled sirloin and caramelized onions, grilled shrimp and more, all made with Mexican cheeses. Or try Ethel's Chicken Salad, with Boston bibb lettuce, green grapes, toasted almonds, papaya vinaigrette and crunchy croustades. You can toast the sunset with the signature Bell Ringer margarita, a refreshing, restorative blend of Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila and Patrón Citrónge with a fresh jalapeño garnish.

If your timing's right, you can catch the moonrise from Bar Alto, the hip rooftop bar at the Drury Plaza Hotel. Relax in comfortable conversation sets softly lit by fire pit tables as you sip craft cocktails and savor small plates beneath a star-studded sky. Try the Spanish cheese plate, mozzarella cheese and tomato plate or charcuterie plate with cured meats, pickles and artisan bread. Creative cocktails include the Rosmarinus, with Wheeler's Gin, Cynar, lemon and rosemary and the Paloma Lavanda, with Mezcal Vida, lavender, lime and grapefruit soda. On Fridays, enjoy live music from 4 to 7 pm (weather permitting).

For a romantic evening with the one you love, dine amid the gorgeous gardens at Restaurant Martín. The food here is exquisite, layered with flavors and artfully presented on each plate. You could share small plates, such as the sublime Chilled English Pea Mint Soup, a refreshing, delightful soup of curry spiced prawns served with crispy potato, Greek yogurt, pink peppercorn and pickled lemon. Bay Sea Scallops are equally splendid, with yuzu glaze, soy bean-shallot purée, pressed melon, fennel and spring onion pancake and blackened tomatillos. Or try spectacular entrees, including Pan-Seared Salmon with crushed eggplant and zucchini fritters, mint and BBQ Marcona almonds, smoked crème fraîche and trout caviar and the Vegetarian Tasting Plate, featuring Chef Martín Rios' creations of the evening.

Feast on a wonderful weekend brunch at La Casa Sena in one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Start by sharing the Crab Cakes Benedict, served with a leek potato cake, sautéed spinach and roasted Serrano chile hollandaise or the Salmon Coconut Ceviche, with coconut milk, orange, lime, cilantro, habanero pepper, onion, avocado, cucumber. The Brioche French Toast is always a winner, served with lemon mascarpone mousse, strawberries, honey-chile bacon and butter maple syrup, and a wonderful way to start any day, be it summer or any other season.