Category Archives: New Mexico

El Rey Inn, Salsa Under the Stars, el Patio, Frontier, UNM – Albuquerque

imageWe have breezed through Albuquerque in the past but spent more time there this trip because our daughter will soon be attending UNM there, several relatives live there and, last but not least, we’re Breaking Bad fans (which filmed in Albuquerque.)

We enjoyed some local restaurants including El Patio  (excellent New Mexican fare) and Frontier (an old-time almost all-night joint frequented by UNM students, and others.) Our brother-in-law who grew up in the Dominican Republic also took us to Salsa Under the Stars – which happens on Friday nights in the summer at the Museum. Full of a great and very diverse group of salsa dancers and large live band. Perfect on a summer night. We also enjoyed the Saturday morning farmers market downtown, picked up some green chile powder, a tacos, designer bread, an empanada filed with spinach, artichoke and feta, some “marriage equality” dish towels as wedding gifts.

With Amelia in Albuquerque

With Amelia in Albuquerque

I should probably mention that we were a bit disappointed with our longtime lodging in Sante Fe – the El Rey Inn. It’s a great old motor lodge that we’ve stayed at several times over the years. Still charming and very affordable and good service but we found our “traditional” room a bit shabby this time around – I’ve let the proprietors know (since they asked several times for our opinion) and hope things will improve so we can stay there again (not to mention recommend it to others…) Other options: the Madeleine, Nicholas, Inn at Paseo.image

 

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la Boca, 10,000 waves, railroad district, shake foundation, San Marcos Cafe–

At Ten Thousand Waves

At Ten Thousand Waves

Excellent tapas at La Boca, a tiny Spanish place Near the Plaza in Sante Fe, where we were seated next to a woman who played flamenco guitar and sang (very well). We were surprised at how quiet the Plaza was on a Thursday night, except for some kids hanging out by their cars that blared music heavy on the bass.

Overall, we found that the farther you get from the main tourist area by the plaza, the more interesting the shops, the better the art, and the slightly more real the scene. Which we like. We stopped at Ten Thousand Waves, a spa north of town with a very Zen/Japanese vibe (and good Japanese restaurant, we’re told) and made a mental note to visit next time. Also stopped at a funky cafe in Tesuque Village Market for some good local coffee (Ohari). wandering around the Railroad District, it was hard to get our bearings. It has changed a lot since our last trip 13 years ago. But found some good shops and galleries (Rainbow Gate for great ceramics with painted birds and fruit; Bon marche (brightly colored linens).

For lunch we met Leah at Shake Foundation for green chili burgers, shoe string potatoes and a shared piñon nut caramel milkshake. lovely to sit outside at picnic tables in perfect weather,that clear southwest sky and air.2015-New Mexico 040
Just south of sante Fe, we almost drove right past the San Marcos Cafe, an old adobe restaurant set back from the road and obscured by feed store stuff, supposed to have good food. Next trip.
We drove though the dusty town of Cerrillos, which was a reminder of what nearby Madrid could be like if it lost its hardy band of entrepreneurs, including the owner of Seppanen  & Daughters Fine Textiles, who sold us yet another stunning Oaxacan rug (we bought the last one from him 18 years ago.)2015-New Mexico 034

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Restaurant Martin, Bandolier National Monument, Rancho de Chimayo, Hand Arts, — sante Fe and road to Taos

Mayan Chocolate Bar  (before)

Mayan Chocolate Bar (before)

Among the travel articles and miscellaneous stuff I brought with me from my “New Mexico file,” was a copy of a hand drawn map of places in and around Sante Fe and Taos. And on the map, someone had written “rancho de chimayo” and “hand arts” (outside the tiny town of Truchas). I still don’t know whose handwriting it is but I am grateful. Rancho de Chimayo turned out to be a perfect place to eat after climbing in and out of the cliff dwellings at Bandolier National Monument. It’s an old ranch with pretty old dining rooms and a sunny patio where we had some traditional northern New Mexico food (and an excellent frozen prickly pear lemonade.) I am pretty sure the three guys sitting near us were talking movie deals.image

Hand Arts turned out to be a contemporary art gallery in a gloriously bucolic setting…a White House on the edge of the dirt road winding through the little town of Truchas (on the super scenic high road to Taos) with a sculpture garden in a bright green meadow and the blue, purple, brown mountains in the distance. We ended up buying ourselves a 25th anniversary gift.

As an extra bonus, the gallery owner gave us an excellent route home, north to Pelicoris (sp?) and then west to Dixon. Gorgeous drive.

Truchas, N.M.

Truchas, N.M.

Last night’s dinner at restaurant Martin was fantastic. I had yellowfin tuna with little sides dotting the plate – strands of artichokes, grilled onions,  a thin orange edible paper that was once sweet potatoes; Dirck had a similar deconstructed version of short ribs. Dessert was bizarre but delicious a “Mayan chocolate bar” that had some sort of chocolate mousse atop a thin layer of chocolate, with dark moist cake on either end, a scoop of popcorn flavored ice cream (not as bad as that sounds) and a white straw apparently made out of spun sugar (we think.) We were each given a fork and a small spatula to use to split it. So I didn’t have to lick the plate.

 

Mayan chocolate bar (after)

Mayan chocolate bar (after)

 

 

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Turquoise Trail, Vinaigrette, Shake Foundation, El Rey Inn — Albuquerque, Madrid, Sante Fe

Salads at Vinegarette

Salads at Vinaigrette

After a short but bumpy flight from Phoenix, wedged in a middle seat between two big guys in the very last row of the plane (Ahhh Southwest), we arrived almost on time at the Albuquerque airport where our hospitable brother in law Wellington picked us up in this big red truck (a work vehicle) and drove us to his adobe style house in the southeast part of town. We had a nice family dinner prepared by my sister in law Leah, visited my mother in law who lives in a residential home that house five elderly people (a far better option than the way more institutional feeling nursing home she left in Kansas, and left this morning for sante Fe along the scenic Turquoise Trail, a two lane road though the mountains. True to form, I bought something in the small town of Madrid, although not a rug because our favorite rug shop (Seppanen & Daughters Fine Textiles) wasn’t open.  I bought a flowy sweater at a little shop lining a dusty side street (most of the shops are in worn houses lining the road) and we had an excellent ice coffee at a hippie dippie place called Java Junction (note to self: coffee ice cubes!).

On the outskirts of sante fe, we checked into our usual place, a well preserved (and updated) 1930’s roadside motel, the el rye inn, which I first learned about from my mom in the 1980’s (thanks Mom xox). We had a really nice lunch at Vinaigrette in an unmarked adobe building just south of town that specializes in very fresh salad greens and interesting combos (I had a pear, blue cheese, walnuts , bacon pieces salad in a balsamic, yes, vinegrette…note to self: poach pears in balsamic vinegar; Dirck had the lightest most creative version of a taco salad I’ve ever seen/tasted). We moved onto the Plaza area and finally found a free parking spot (non metered, along a little park by Marcy street and the radio tower.) we window shopped a bit along the plaza and canyon road (dropping in at the Ventana Gallery for old times sake (where we saw $30,000 painting with sold stickers beside them). The southwest adobe architecture is still charming but the shops don’t interest me much so we just wandered. Perfect weather. Sunny, 70s, light breeze.  The railyard district nearby seems to be the more emerging place to be (it’s much more

Shopping in Madrid, New Mexico

Shopping in Madrid, New Mexico

gentrified than when we last visited 13 years ago and went to the great farmers market which, alas, is on Tuesdays and Saturdays …note to self: return on a Tuesday or saturday.)

We stopped for some ice tea and ginger lemonade at Shake Foundation, a hip fast food place made of sheet metal and glass with two takeout windows and what looks like great food (green chili burgers, lamb burgers, salt caramel ice cream, pistachio milk shakes…lunch tomorrow!)

 

 

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Reasonable fares (!!) Des Moines to Albuquerque

Thanks to airfarewatchdog, I did find a surprisingly reasonable fare on American from Des Moines to Albuquerque – $250 (advertised as $208 but the taxes add up) – for my daughter who is going to visit her cousins in June. We were gearing up to drive her down to Kansas City to catch a Southwest Air flight but that flight turned out to be more than flying from D.M. (Granted the KC flight is direct but involves a 3 hour drive from DM; the DM flight connects through Dallas.) The fares seem to be cheapest right now to parts west (Denver, Phoenix) and a few places in Florida.

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Where to eat in Albuquerque

My dad is passing through Albuquerque and was looking for a good place to eat so I checked in with my sister-in-law, who lives there. Figured I’d share her suggestions which include: the Grove Cafe,  Standard Diner, Farina (for wood oven pizza) and  Artichoke Cafe (a fancier place).

Also for a funky New Mexican food place, there is Duran’s Pharmacy near Old Town – an  old-fashioned pharmacy with a little restaurant that serves pretty decent stuffed sopapillas and green chile stew.

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Best Mexican Food in New Mexico?

My ears perked up today when I heard Jane and Michael Stern on the NPR show The Splendid Table talk about the bext Mexican food in New Mexico but I tuned in too late. Thank heavens for the Internet. On the show’s website I found what they were talking about and even better it’s in Albuquerque where my sister-in-law and her family lives and we visit now and then. The restaurant is Garcia’s Kitchen and a highlight is carne adovada for breakfast or super. Having just butchered a pork belly today to make carnitas here in Iowa, I’m more than ready to have someone else cook the pork for me. This dish is made with chile and smothered in an intensely flavored but not knock-your-socks off heat. Good to know.

We’re looking forward to having some very good authentic Mexican food later this week in Dodge City, Kansas where we’ll be for Xmas (with our New Mexico relatives.)

 

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