For visitors, the Santa Fe Plaza is a hotspot for museums and attractions. For locals, the Santa Fe Plaza is their hometown’s downtown—the place to dine, imbibe, and shop. Residents have tested and given the seal of approval to these destinations within walking distance of the Plaza.
Start just off the Plaza at Collected Works to pick up the latest best seller or a New Mexico coffee table book. The indie bookseller hosts a full calendar of author readings, and the intimate coffee shop is a comfortable place to curl up with a staff pick.
For snacks of a different sort, meander to Modern General. This store has the nostalgia of a general store with the contemporary curation of local tastemaker Erin Wade. Here you can buy everything from a garden shovel to a homemade kolache and freshly made juice. Next door, sister restaurant Vinaigrette bustles with salad and sandwich seekers. This joint is popular for its local ingredients and fresh—never boring takes—on this light fare. If you’re looking for a stick-to-your-ribs lunch, next door, Shake Foundation serves burgers and, you guessed it, creamy shakes featuring Taos Cow ice cream.
Next, stroll to the vibrant Railyard, one of the top art districts in town, along with Canyon Road and the Plaza itself. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the Santa Fe Farmers Market, the state’s largest local market overflows the Railyard with produce, meat, cheese, and handmade products, such as goat’s milk soap. If the timing’s right, dip into the Jean Cocteau Cinema. This art-house cinema has been reinvigorated in recent years thanks to new owner George R. R. Martin, of Game of Thrones fame. The intimate theater is also becoming a destination for live music.
A perennial hot spot for touring and local bands, Cowgirl Santa Fe (The Cowgirl to locals) has music on the menu most nights. Bluegrass and rockabilly strains pair well this down-home joint’s savory barbecue, burgers, and requisite New Mexican favorites. If the serving staff’s wardrobe inspires you—they’re required to wear cowboy garb—head to Double Take, a sprawling resale shop with a wall devoted to cowboy boots and other sections overflowing with furniture, Fiesta dish ware, and vintage handbags.
Rounding out this visit, head back to the Plaza, where it all began. On the second story, Draft Station has a relaxed atmosphere and some of the best beers in the state on tap with views overlooking the Plaza.