Santa Fe: A solo trek

I recently had  to attend a training in Santa Fe.  I know, it’s rough, isn’t it. I was thrilled to go and jumped at the chance.   I love this area of the country and our dream is to retire there someday soon.   But, for now we will just make sure we visit at least once a year.

This was a solo trip for me.   The conference was mid-week so it was virtually impossible for The Hubs to get away.   Although it would have been much more fun if he had been with me, I had a wonderful time.   Sometimes wandering around by oneself can be refreshing and offer some new perspectives.

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St. Francis Cathedral Basilica in Santa Fe

Let’s start with the flight.  I flew into Santa Fe and when the travel agent asked if I wanted to fly into Santa Fe or Albequerque, I told her that she must be mistaken because you can’t fly into Santa Fe.  (Yes, that is me being belligerently obstinate.   Yes, I did try to tell her she was wrong at her job.)

Well, you can fly into Santa Fe and the airport is hilariously quaint.   The plane, a tiny American Eagle, pulled up right by the back door of the airport.   Seriously, you walk right down the ramp and into the back door where your luggage is being unloaded by the same person who pulled the gang plank up.   You walk a few more steps and you are out the front door.  I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture but imagine what the airport might have looked like in 1958.   Yep, you got the image.

I was lucky enough to get a really early flight so I had almost the entire day to rummage around Santa Fe before the training started the next day.

My first stop was to check in and drop off the luggage.   The conference was being held at La Fonda on the Plaza, a great place to make as a headquarters if you are planning a trip.  Almost everything is within walking distance which was a plus for me as I was sans a car.

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View from my room looking over an outdoor market (lots of art for sale).

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The view from one of the outdoor terrace areas at La Fonda.

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You gotta’ love a hotel with robes and a turn down service with chocolate.

Since I was starving, I decided to hit a spot that I knew was good, Rooftop Pizza.  We had eaten here before on another trip and it was a beautiful day, perfect for sitting outside on a rooftop.   I didn’t feel like pizza though, so I had some baked goat cheese and a salad.

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Oven-Roasted Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese at Rooftop Pizza.

Then I was off to explore.   I knew the training would have me hooked up from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the next three days so I wanted to make the most of the free time I had.

Number one on my list was the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.   I love this little place.    I can always find some inspiration there.  There were two exhibits going on:  Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams—The Hawai’i Pictures and Abiquiu Views.  (More about these later.)

Then, I was off on a quest for The Hubs.   He wanted some pint glasses from Marble Brewery.  Their tap room used to be adjacent to Rooftop Pizza but after lunch I discovered that they had moved.   After the museum, I pulled the new location up on my phone and started walking.   It looked to me like it was near the Railyard so I headed that way.   I made a quick stop at The Station for some green tea and water—it is a dry climate.   Then, Google maps told me I was within .4 miles of Marble.   I started out.   My phone was dying so I wanted to get there quick.   It looked to me like Google Maps was incorrect so I started walking in what I thought was the right direction.   As I “navigated,” the mileage to my destination  soon became .6, then .7.   WTH?   I knew I was going in the right direction.   As I found myself in a neighborhood and walking by some sketchy convenience stores with bars on the windows, I decided to reassess.  (Yes, just like I tried to tell the travel agent she was mistaken, I was convinced I was right and Google was wrong.)   It was time to admit defeat and retrace my steps.   So, a less than a half mile walk to get these glasses became about a two mile trek into unknown Santa Fe territory.   After this hike and a bloody blister, I finally found Marble’s new hangout and purchased the pints.   The things I do.

After a stop at the Five and Dime  (home of the best Frito pies)  for some peroxide, bandaids and neosporin for the blisters, I collapsed at the hotel, unpacked and recouped before dinner.

I had already decided that I was going to eat in some of the more famous Santa Fe spots, some places that The Hubs and I had not hit yet in our travels here.   (For our previous dining experiences in Santa Fe, click here.)

My first stop was The Shed.   The Shed is famous for its creative cookery and for being a 2003 James Beard Award Winner as an  “American Classic of timeless appeal.”   It was a Monday night so I figured it wouldn’t be that crowded.  (The reason we had not previously dined here was because of the hours long wait.)   Remember, I was also eating solo so how hard could it be to get a table?   It was packed and it was going to be over an hour wait.  I persevered.  I figured I could snag at least one seat at the bar if needed.   Nope.   An hour and fifteen minutes later and I finally got a table.  Let me tell you that some people were POed and were raising heck because of the wait.  Not me though.  After my day hike, I was humbled, hungry, and willing to wait.

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One rolled, blue corn enchilada filled with cheddar cheese, onion and covered with red chile; one soft blue corn taco with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, with ground beef marinated in red chile. Topped with pinto beans & posole and served with garlic bread.

Can I just say that the food was OK?   Yes, I tend to hype things up in my head until there is no hope that the expectations will be met, but I truly know a place less than a mile from us that serves authentic Mexican food that was as good or better than this.   Will I go again?  Certainly, especially with The Hubs and especially  if we can get a table in the courtyard.

M.J. (from M.J.’s Kitchen) became my cruise director via email and directed me to La Boca.    Thank you, M.J., for sending me there!  I had the best meal of the trip.

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Carrot-garbanzo hummus with cumin, mint, lemon, and grilled house-made yogurt flatbread to start.

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Then for the grilled NM flat-iron steak with smoked sea salt caramel. This sauce….it is beyond words.

And, the olive oil La Boca serves for bread dipping is also beyond words.

For my final evening meal of the trip, I made sure I was at Cafe Pasqual’s at bang up 5:30 to get a table.  I still had to wait in a small line that was forming out side the door before they opened.   (This was another place I was dying to dine.)

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Mole Enchiladas with organic chicken with cilantro rice, orange-jicama salad, and a slice of corn torte

This was perhaps my second best meal.   I loved the vibe of the place.

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What I think I have realized is that the food tastes better with my dining partner in tow.  Although I don’t mind dining out solo, I know I truly enjoy The Hubs company, critiques, and banter during dinner.   (He did appreciate the Marble pints I shuttled home in my suitcase.)

And, the next time I go, I will seek out those non-famous places.

But, the real reason I was here was for training.  It was better than I expected and exceeded my expectations.   The training focused on helping and understanding families and children in poverty.  I will certainly be able to put these practices to good use next year when school starts.

30 comments to Santa Fe: A solo trek

  • I don’t really love eating alone either, but it helps if the food is fabulous!!! Great post!

    • I think sometimes it is easier in “touristy” spots (to eat alone, that is). I am wondering, however, if some of this food was fabulous, I just didn’t get to share the experience….Interesting….

  • Taking On Magazines

    I don’t do movies or eating on my own if I can help it. Both are just such social activities. That being said, if given the opportunity to eat at places like you did, yeah, I would definitely strike out on my own for the experience. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • I felt bad for some of the other confrerencees who ate in the hotel restaurant (which I did hear was great). I guess in retrospect I should have put together some kind of foodie group to go out in the evenings. (I am weird, though, and like to wander around by myself sometimes.)

  • Joyce

    As much as i adore dining out with the Hubs, there are times when I just love to go solo….even take a book and just relax and enjoy a little bit of being by myself. Being raised an only child, I do love those alone times so much! I had to learn to “like myself” growing up or I would have been in big trouble…..

  • What a fun post Debra! Sounds like you had a great trip even being alone. With my previous job, I had to travel alone quite a bit so I got use to eating alone, but like you, I’d much rather have the hubs with me. We definitely have the same taste in food! Whenever we eat at cafe Pasqual’s I always get the mole enchiladas as well. They are SO good! Thanks for the shout out and I’m so glad you enjoyed La Boca. The chef from there just opened a restaurant here in Abq. Can’t wait to give it a try!

    • No, thank you M.J. You may want to open up a travel agency after your tip for La Boca and the digs in Abiquiu. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind being my NM go-to person! 🙂

  • What a pretty town. I want to visit there one day and have enjoyed your posts about Santa Fe. The sky is so crisp and clear. Love your foodie shots. What a trip!

  • Not fond of eating out alone…but I would make an exception for that pistachio-crusted goat cheese! Looks fantastic!

  • Looks like you did just fine in your quest. I go back-and-forth on eating alone. Depending on the place, I might just want to eat and read, or people-watch. I’d say your winners are the goat cheese and mole enchiladas.

    • Yep, and I can’t express the deliciousness of that salted caramel sauce on the flat iron steak. Strange but stellar!

  • Sounds like you took Santa Fe by storm and had a ball! What a deliciuos conference this was Debra!

    • I don’t know that the conference was delicious, but it was informative and timely. Santa Fe was definitely delicious!! 🙂

  • It looks like the trip was wonderful! I agree with Adam: To me, the winners were the goat cheese and Mole enchiladas. I love mole sauce! The training……..did it happen to be Bridges out of Poverty? The first time I attended was with my staff in HES at OSU, I used to run the Nutrition Education program – not the one they have or had in schools – for the Food Stamp Program. OSU, OU, Langston and the Chickasaws were my contractors. Anyway, OSU was going and asked me along. Dr. Ruby Payne gave the training herself in those days and I even became an authorized trainer of the program. It is one of the best trainings I have ever attended!

    • You are correct, Kelli. Dr. Ruby was there. I think she is hilarious. Love her stories. It was Framework training. I think Bridges is the non-school program. Same premise. It was excellent training.

  • kitchenriffs

    In a former life I traveled a bunch, and often ate solo. It can be fun, but better with your mate. 😉 Sounds like a terrific trip — I’ve never been to Santa Fe, and really need to get there someday. Fun post — thanks.

  • I am soooooooo envious. This place has been on my bucket list for years. Your photos made me ache with longing. However thank you for sharing!!!!!

  • Oh, how I’d love to go to Santa Fe…it’s on my bucket list. I’ve utilized my blogger friends for recommendations, too…they came through for me on our spring break trip to Sedona and Phoenix. Glad MJ found a winner for you!

  • I had no idea you could fly directly into Santa Fe, Debra. The last time I was there, which is many moons ago, I flew into New Mexico to visit my daughter and we drove there. It is gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind doing it solo, although it is fun to share the experience with someone.

    You sure have captured the essence of Santa Fe in this post, Debra. Thank you so much for sharing…

  • My family has had a home in New Mexico for at least 12 years now! When I was younger, I did not appreciate it at all, the culture I did not care about – however, now… I cherish it! 🙂

  • I’ve always wanted to go there! I love to travel alone. It’s so freeing! And all the food you don’t have to share… mmmm!

  • Looks like so much fun! I used to have work in Santa Fe every few months and it was one of my very favorite places to stay. You’re right about there being something fun in being alone – it really does help you to gain a unique perspective on a place.