Christmas Eve ushers in a sacred, hallowed time in Santa Fe, and nothing says that more clearly than the Canyon Road Farolito Walk. 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 Lobster Bisque with Puff Pastry Shell, an appetizer option that will warm you up from the first spoonful. Other starters include a Chicken and Wild Mushroom Agnolini, Crab Cake with avocado mouse, and Country Paté. Entrees include Duck a l’Orange Two Ways, Steak Frittes, and Grilled Salmon. For dessert, your options include Profiteroles, Passion Fruit Cheesecake, Apple Tarte Tatin, and Chocolate Pots de Creme. 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 8-ounce Filet Mignon is a hearty choice, but there’s also 16 oz Prime Ribeye, and, for the adventurous, how about a 10 oz Colorado Elk Loin? Other entrees on the menu include Chilean Seabass, New Mexican Bison Short Ribs, the Chama Chomp Burger, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Check out the entire menu on their website.
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, Beet and Quinoa Salad, and Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup for starters, Pork Tenderloin, Salmon, and Stuffed Squash for the main course, and a dessert duo of rich Strawberry Chocolate Mousse and Pastel de Crema de Limón for dessert. 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!
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 Chef de Cuisine Oliver Cortes and his team have 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.), that offers several courses.
Choose from starters like Tabbouleh, Deep Fried Octopus Tostada, an Anasazi Mix Green Salad, or Parsnip & Granny Smith Apple Soup. For your main course, you’ve got such choices as Fettuccini with Truffle Créme, Chicken Enchiladas with steamed rice and Guajillo sauce, an Artic Char with snow peas and fennel salad, or Bison Short Ribs with avocado hummus and tricolored quinoa ragu. For those choosing the three-course meal, choose a tempting dessert such as the Fruit Salad with mango sorbet, Flourless Chocolate Torte with coffee ice cream, or New York Cheesecake with raspberry compote. To get a look at the entire menu, visit the website.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead