Eating, Drinking & Sleeping – Part Two

For Part Two of our New Mexican journey we visited the more traditional tourist towns of Taos and Santa Fe. In Taos, we stayed at El Monte Sagrado, which is situated on 10 acres but is only a ten-minute walk from town – so it’s close to the action yet away from the street noise. The hotel was highly recommended by friends, but our experience was mixed.

The grounds are indeed lovely, and the three of us who got them enjoyed our spa treatments. But the hotel is really suffering from Covid-related staffing shortages, and the service suffers for it. Judith and Mark, our traveling companions on this trip, didn’t like their room at all; it was very dark and although it had a kitchen there was no glassware or utensils. Jim agreed the rooms seemed a little tired though the common areas were lovely. When asked if I would recommend the hotel, I would say yes with a caveat – be prepared for service issues and to ask for what you need. Everyone was very happy to help once asked.

Our dinners were similarly mixed. Our first meal at Doc Martin’s in the Taos Inn was good, but not remarkable. Dinner at The Love Apple the next night was decidedly better – fresh, local ingredients and interesting preparations.

Our next hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza, was an unequivocal success. Our comfortable king room had a separate sitting area and New Mexican art throughout. The headboard on our bed gives a taste. (Jim would have brought his cowboy boots if he knew the hotel would provide a boot jack!)

The bustling lobby has a good restaurant, La Plazuela, which is also filled with New Mexican art, and a rooftop bar. Apparently the hotel recently underwent a redesign, and it did feel fresh and bright. In one of those interesting coincidences, a relative of Judith’s actually did the second floor redesign, which is where they were located.

Our dinners were also uniformly good in Santa Fe. As mentioned, we enjoyed the hotel restaurant. We also dined at Coyote Cafe, which is said to have pioneered Southwestern regional cuisine 30 years ago. They also have a more casual, outdoor venue. Our final night was at Sazon. Little did I know that reservations are so coveted that hotel guests have bribed the concierge to get them a table. The Mexico-inspired food was fresh and inventive, and the setting was beautiful, as the photo below illustrates. We also enjoyed speaking with Chef Olea, who is originally from Mexico City but has been cooking in Santa Fe since 1991. He probably does very little cooking now since he visits each table throughout the night!

In preparing for the trip I had read a lot about the red and green chiles that would be on offer. But I wanted to have a dish with “Christmas” chiles, i.e., both red and green. I finally got it at my last breakfast at La Fonda.

Huevos rancheros with Chrismas chiles.

So that’s a wrap for this trip. I’m happy I finally made it to Santa Fe, and with the added bonus of experiencing it with good friends.

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