National Geographic Traveler once described Santa Fe as “a hypercultural hybrid–equal parts Wild West and New Age, Native American and Hispanic, old money and old hippie”…a city “used to mixing things up and still creating an oddly seamless whole.”
Santa Fe is indeed a unique amalgam of culture, art and beauty with a seemingly preternatural ability to convert visitors to wannabe residents. Since the early 1980s, magazines such as Conde Naste have named Santa Fe the most popular travel destination in the country.
Each year, more than a million and a half tourists descend upon this city of about seventy-thousand residents. There are many reasons for Santa Fe’s appeal.
Not the least among those reasons is because Santa Fe is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in North America with a storied history that predates the landing at Plymouth Rock.
Nestled at the foot of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, visages of the Hispanic culture which built the city are evident throughout the sprawling capital city. So, too, are traces of Native American pueblos which predate the Spanish.
Santa Fe is reported to have the greatest diversity and number of restaurants per capita of any city in America. I like to think that one of the reasons for its tourist appeal is its cuisine, but it’s more likely that the reason there are so many fabulous restaurants in Santa Fe is because of the tourists.
Most visitors to Santa Fe will indulge at least once on New Mexican cuisine, the capsaicin blessed staple of New Mexico restaurant and home fare. Intrepid chefs have managed to incorporate chile into the cuisine of other cultures–a perfect analogy to New Mexico’s accepting culture.
In the mid 1980s, Fortune magazine named Santa Fe one of America’s top ten dining destinations, listing among the city’s elite restaurants the pioneering Coyote Cafe as well as other restaurants, several of which are still going strong and evolving to meet the needs of an ever more sophisticated dining culture.
In recent years, Santa Fe has continued to be recognized not only for its culinary diversity, but for its excellent cuisine. In 2007, Gourmet magazine named Trattoria Nostrani one of the 50 best restaurants in America. Later in the year, the editors of Bon Appetit magazine, on a Food Network special, selected “the top places in this country to enjoy the ultimate incarnations of iconic American cuisine.” Santa Fe’s diminutive Bobcat Bite was named the very best hamburger in America.
Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog honors the restaurants of Santa Fe, perhaps the most enchanting city in the most enchanting state in the country.