Christmas Eve ushers in a sacred, hallowed time in Santa Fe. The farolitos, glowing paper bags filled with sand to hold lit votives in place, begin to appear in Santa Fe earlier during the holiday season. Electric versions are increasingly common, too. But never are the authentic farolitos more beautiful to behold than when they line Canyon Road and its neighboring streets on the night before Christmas.
Starting at dusk, the road is closed to cars. Families and friends—young and old, some with pets, others with flashing accessories that glow like Rudolph’s shiny nose—stroll the street together, singing carols in harmonies of four-parts or more. They warm up beside luminarias, or small bonfires made of stacked wood, then head back out into the cold night to enjoy a wonderland illuminated by farolitos. The bags, carefully aligned on the ground to form mazes, stars, and other shapes also light the way atop softly-contoured adobe walls in front of galleries, restaurants, shop, and other businesses.
The annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk is one of Santa Fe’s most treasured traditions, revered by locals and visitors alike. Hundreds of walkers turn out for the event each year and often are greeted with hot chocolate, hot cider, and bizcochitos, New Mexico’s official state cookies, to fuel them along the way.
If you’re making the walk this year and would like to ensure you have a destination for sustenance before or after the event, here are a few nearby places that can help. Some words of advice: make reservations now as most restaurants fill up quickly. And, since it’s likely to be a cold Christmas Eve this year, be sure to bundle up.
315 Restaurant & Wine Bar
Located near the base of Canyon Road, on Old Santa Fe Trail, 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar makes an idea place to rendezvous with friends before, or after, the farolito walk. It’s intimate and cozy, with a relaxed, friendly vibe and if you manage to score any remaining reservations for what’s being served that night—a prix fixe Christmas Eve dinner—you’ll be in luck. Owner/chef Louis Moskow has created an elegant three-course prix fixe menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Eve dinner that includes French onion soup gratinée with French comté cheese and herb crouton, an appetizer option that will warm you up from the first spoonful. Other starters include winter squash soup, a tossed garden or Caesar salad, or basil wrapped shrimp. Entrees include steak frites, black mussels, cassoulet, fresh fettuccini, and paella. For dessert, your options include profiteroles, warm apple crisp, and red wine poached pear-almond tart. See the entire holiday menu on their website. At this favorite local’s hangout, so you’re sure run into friends and family from the farolito walk.
Rio Chama Steakhouse
On the other side of the street from 315, the popular steakhouse Rio Chama serves a Christmas Eve dinner with a la carte pricing. If you snag a reservation, you can request a seat in the dining rooms or bar of this rambling adobe, with fireplaces in some areas. You might start off with the house specialty, Chama Chili served with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and jalapeños, to take the chill out of the night. For a main course, the 12-ounce slow roasted prime rib is a hearty choice, served with green beans, au jus, horseradish crème, and garlic mashed potatoes. Other entrees on the menu include sea bass, mole enchiladas, and half a roasted organic chicken. If it’s sweetness you crave, you’ve got lots of choices, too, including chocolate pot, orange cream cheesecake, and peach buñuelos.
El Farol, located in the center of Canyon Road, has been feeding locals and visitors since 1835. It offers a prix fixe Christmas Eve dinner menu with delicious options such as ensalada El Farol, strawberry citrus salad, and butternut square soup for starters, filet mignon, pork tomahawk, halibut, and a vegan polenta for the main course, and a dessert duo of rich chocolate mousse and raspberry tarts. This is one of the few menus in the area offering vegan options, so if you have plant-based folks in your group, this may be the place to go!
La Plazuela at La Fonda
You can’t go wrong with dining at La Fonda’s La Plazuela before the farolito walk. They have a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day prix fixe menu that offers two or three courses. Choose from starters like roasted green chile-sweet corn chowder, tortilla soup, and grilled pear and baby spinach salad. For your main course, choose between six options that include 1855 prime rib serviced with sautéed broccolini and roasted garlic-buttermilk mashed potatoes, grilled cauliflower steak served with a Huitlacoche tamal, warm barley salad, broccolini, black bean sauce, and roasted red pepper coulis, and enchiladas del norte. For those choosing the three course meal, choose a tempting dessert such as flan, bourbon pecan pie, La Fonda bread pudding, or a yule log.
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
Another restaurant not far from Canyon Road’s Farolito Walk is at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. Anasazi Restaurant Executive Chef Andre Sattler has put together a prix fixe Christmas Eve menu with seatings at 5 and 7 p.m. and live music from 5 to 9 p.m. (They also have Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve menus.) For Christmas Eve, start with an amuse bouche, then work your way to a first course of seared scallop with beet causa, green peas, and parma essence. For your second course, you’ll have roasted black cod with mussels, andouille, marsala, and caviar. After an “intermezzo,” work your way to the third course of Wagyu beef short rib with baby root vegetables, chestnut and potato mousseline, and stone fruit jus. Top it all off with espresso dark chocolate mouse and cinnamon ice cream.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead