New Mexico

Overview

From Andrew Harper

Perhaps more than those of any other Southwestern state, the sparsely populated mountain and desert landscapes of New Mexico exude an atmosphere of the ancient. Aztec and Pueblo ruins sit in the shadows of massive natural sandstone formations; Mogollon cliff dwellings in the Gila Wilderness invoke ghosts of the 13th century; petroglyphs from thousands of years ago preside along the Rio Grande; a volcano once traversed by mammoths and bison lies dormant in the northcentral wilderness.

In the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in North America, is also home to the nation's oldest public building. The legacy of the Spanish colonizers' culture is pervasive in the rodeos, ranches and cattle drives that remain a part of modern-day New Mexico.

But a sense of the future is equally salient. The famous International UFO Museum and Research Center at Roswell allows visitors to decide whether a flying saucer really did crash here in 1947. The Old Town of Albuquerque is a historic village updated with modern shops and boutiques, and the ski slopes at Taos and Santa Fe fuse the slow geologic time of soaring peaks with modern downhill velocities.

Hotels

All recommended hotels in New Mexico

Albuquerque Area, United States
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

Historic 20-room hotel and farm on 25 acres of lavender fields, mature cottonwoods, formal gardens, pastures and ponds, a 10-minute drive north of Albuquerque’s Old Town.

New Mexico
Santa Fe Area, United States
Encantado, An Auberge Resort
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

esort of 65 casita accommodations on 57 acres at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 10 minutes from downtown Santa Fe’s shops and galleries.

New Mexico
Hacienda del Cerezo
Hacienda del Cerezo

High-desert retreat with 10 rooms in an atmospheric hacienda on a low hill surrounded by 336 private acres dotted with juniper and piñon, 20 minutes from Santa Fe.

New Mexico
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi

Ideally situated adjacent to Santa Fe’s Plaza, this hotel contains 58 stylish rooms within a modest adobe building. A Southwestern motif incorporates Native American handwoven rugs and artifacts, along with kiva-style gas fireplaces.

New Mexico
The Inn of the Five Graces
The Inn of the Five Graces

Just a short walk from Santa Fe’s historic Plaza, this 24-room inn is housed within several restored buildings..

New Mexico

Dining

All recommended restaurants in New Mexico

Geronimo

Geronimo Lopez built the adobe house that is the setting for this restaurant in 1756. Completely restored, it has a charming dining area on the front porch and a contemporary interior with fireplaces, sensitive lighting and modern art. The food is what chef Eric DiStefano likes to call “Global Eclectic.” Starters might include Maryland blue crab cakes with a caviar-dill sauce, braised leeks and a baby watercress salad; or Chardonnay-poached Maine lobster salad with crispy polenta and cornichon-dill sauce. Main courses could be peppery elk tenderloin and apple-smoked bacon with roasted-garlic mashed potatoes, sugar snap peas and a creamy brandied-mushroom sauce; or maple-teriyaki Scottish salmon with Israeli couscous “risotto” and sweet peas, all served with white wine butter and pineapple chutney.

724 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States
$65
La Casa Sena

This charming restaurant in the heart of historic Sena Plaza is set in an adobe house built in 1867 by Jose Sena, a hero of the Civil War. It has a superb collection of landscape paintings and handcrafted furniture, plus a lovely tree-shaded patio. The menu offers imaginative Southwestern cuisine. Appetizers could include a wild-boar sausage ragout with black beans, heirloom tomatoes, garlic and red chard; or Pacific Northwest mussels and Baja scallops flavored with coconut and kaffir lime with garlic, ginger and scallions in white wine broth. Main courses might be red chili-crusted pork with roasted root vegetables, red chard and veal jus, or clay-baked ruby trout wrapped in banana leaves with lemon and basil. The spectacular 67-page wine list has more than three dozen by-the-glass selections.

125 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM
United States
$60
Ristra

This Victorian adobe house contains three stylish rooms with geometric ceilings and minimally adorned walls. The flavors of France and the American Southwest blend in inventive ways, thanks to chef Xavier Grenet. Look for starters such as plump sea scallops en papillote with spinach and a spicy saffron sauce, or crispy herbed calamari with a zesty lime dipping sauce. Main courses might be grilled rack of lamb with a tomato-confit orzo, red chard, mint-jalapeño glaze and a marjoram jus; or grilled ahi tuna with eggplant caviar, a potato- leek gratin and watercress coulis.

548 Agua Fria Street
Santa Fe, NM
United States
$55
The Compound

The spare interior of this stylish restaurant provides the setting for a fine collection of Southwest folk art, as well as chef Mark Kiffin’s creative fare. While he never hesitates to inflect his food with Southwest influences, this is contemporary American cooking at a very high level. Starters might include tuna tartare with a topping of Osetra caviar and preserved lemon, or a Kiffin signature, sweetbreads and foie gras with cep mushrooms, cayenne and sherry. Main courses could be grilled beef tenderloin with cep mushroom O’Brien potatoes and foie gras Hollandaise, or Loch Duart salmon with Lyonnaise potatoes, smoked bacon and asparagus with a morel demi-glace. The very good wine list has more than 200 selections from all major wine areas of the world.

653 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States
$65