There’s natural medicine in the first sunny moments of spring, when turning your face to the warm rays and catching a little vitamin D brings on a rush of happy feelings. Spring begs us to spend time outside, listen to the birds sing, and remember how good it can be to enjoy the moment. Santa Fe has warmed up at last, and these patios offer a cozy seat, yummy bites, and delicious sips. What more could one want?
SkyFire at Bishop’s Lodge
Cradled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos near Tesuque, Bishop’s Lodge recently received a major revamp under its new owners, Auberge Resorts Collection. The grounds of the historic property, once home to Bishop Lamy, cascade with lawns and adobe buildings, including a quaint chapel, giving it the feel of a terraced European hideaway.
With its comfy-chic atmosphere, the patio at SkyFire suggests a long lunch or a happy hour stretching until the spectacular sunset settles into dusk. Cushy armchairs and fluffy loveseats create nooks amid the adobe architecture, with shade structures providing some sun protection. In the evening twinkly lights woven through the arbors keep the conversation going.
SkyFire’s Mexican-inspired menu offers plenty of choices to satisfy your tastebuds. The generous helping of blistered, salty shishitos is a great dish for sharing with friends, and the tender, saucy beef brisket tacos with red onion and guacamole are memorable, the kind of flavors that will call you to return. Wash them down with Skyfire’s Holy Margarita, a unique spin on the classic, the heat of Hatch chile mingling with the apricot’s sweetness. During Bishop’s Hour—weekdays from 2 to 5 pm—nab a happy hour drink and snack when the lounge menu is half-price.
The Santa Fe outpost of Albuquerque’s beloved Los Poblanos, Bar Norte sits just beyond the Plaza, adjacent to the Farm Shop Norte. A cozy spot with limited seating housed in a former gas station, Bar Norte’s interior feels like a hip historian’s living room, featuring photos of important figures from Los Poblanos’ history hanging on the walls and backlit bottles set in nichos along the bar. The small patio sits on Marcy Street, with views of the library and the Plaza’s northeast corner, and the space is equipped with heaters for chilly spring mornings or cool summer evenings. Surrounded by a wrought iron gate, it’s a hidden spot with the appeal of a secret hangout.
Bites are limited here, but if you’re an olive lover like me, the options work just fine. Snack on the aforementioned savory fruits or the charcuterie plate while you sip the gin flight or a perfectly balanced martini delivered in the sweetest little glass. Bring a board game and have a great afternoon.
Downtown Santa Fe’s newest darling La Mama is the creation of a trio of owners who took over what was not long ago the Marcy Street location of Josie’s Casa de Comida, a New Mexican restaurant and caterer run for half a century by Josie and Ray Gallegos. Today the clean, contemporary space offers specialty foods, a café, and a natural wine bar.
Some friends and I stopped by on a Friday evening and hung out on the porch. My seat got the perfect amount of sun, so I was warm but not baked. (By 6 pm, the outdoor seats were taken, so be sure to arrive early.) The menu includes orange wines as well as the more familiar pinks, whites, and reds. La Mama offers wines by the bottle as well as the glass—the Wavy Wines sparkling piquette looked enticing.
The café’s “early” menu offerings include house-made granola, a sesame bagel, and sweet porridge. We snacked on treats from the “later” menu. The yummy popcorn balanced salt with olive oil goodness. The table next to us ordered the nosh board, which came with natural salami, blue cheese, and house-made pickles. I’m going for that next time.
Of all of this local roaster’s locations, the Iconik café between the Plaza and the Railyard has my favorite outdoor seating. The whitewashed patio offers small tables, and funky old doors give the space a Bali-esque vibe.
Iconik is known for their coffee, but I’m partial to their smoothies. The Mango Peach Breakfast Lassi is fresh and sweet, and the avocado in the Avo Pineapple Smoothie makes it extra creamy and filling. If your stomach is calling for something a bit heartier, go for the Croque Madame Waffle with rosemary-infused bechamel.
If you work remotely, this patio makes a great outdoor office. The two-top tables have the space you need for a laptop and a beverage. Spend a languid, sunny work afternoon here: start with coffee, move on to a smoothie, and finish with something sweet; the pastries are great and change frequently. You’ll leave satiated, and with your to-do list complete.
Rancho de Chimayó
A James Beard America’s Classics award winner, Rancho de Chimayó is worth a little cruise out of town. I dream about it sometimes—the details like the lengths of straw that peek through the restaurant’s adobe walls, the yellow tablecloths that make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Open since the 1960s and run by the Jaramillo family, it’s truly a gem of New Mexican dining. The red chile here—savory, garlic laden, and not too hot—is among my all-time favorites. The chips are thin and crispy, and the beans have a ton of flavor. To me, Rancho de Chimayó feels like home.
Grab a table outside, where an acequia whispers through the historic property. They also make my favorite frozen margarita, a drink best enjoyed in the sunshine.
Secreto Lounge at Hotel St. Francis
If you’re into people watching, the patio at Secreto Lounge, a portal that lines the front of the Hotel St. Francis, is an ideal place to post up for a lazy afternoon on the spacious couches facing Don Gaspar Avenue. The hotel’s restaurant, Market Steer Steakhouse, is celebrated for doing the classics justice. They make delicious guacamole that pairs perfectly with their renowned Smoked Sage Margarita.
Hit happy hour here and catch the sunset as the skies turn pink over the La Fonda Hotel. The staff is knowledgeable, so if you’re not sure what to order, ask your server to suggest a drink that suits your mood. It’s a good spot to grab a nightcap too—not a bad way to end a beautiful day in the Land of Enchantment.
Maria Manuela is a freelance writer based in Santa Fe, where she was born and raised. She works with publications like New Mexico Magazine and Hyperallergic, focusing on stories about creative New Mexicans. She spends all her free time with her partner, Joel, and their three pups, Darla, Hamlet, and Pea. She’s working on a collection of short folktales based in the Southwest.