Category Archives: PREVIOUS EDITION (2007)

Public Lands Information Center

The office in Santa Fe has moved–it’s no longer on Rodeo Road, but out of the city a little way.

The address is 301 Dinosaur Trail. Where is that, you might ask? It’s just south of where Highway 14 meets I-25. (People who know the area will know it got its name from the dinosaur sculptures there.)

Phone number is 505/954-2002, and office hours are 8am-4:30pm Mon-Fri.

Opening Hours

By the far the most frequent change I’m making in updating for the second edition (due spring ’11) is adjusting opening hours–90 percent of the time, places are just open less. I’m guessing this has to do with the recession–government-run places have had budget cuts, and tourism is down, so tourist-oriented businesses have scaled back.

Moral of the story: call ahead to check hours when you’re making a special trip.

Shaffer Hotel

This place in Mountainair has changed hands, and the rooms have gotten pretty sketchy. I wouldn’t recommend pre-booking here–take a room only if you can inspect it beforehand.

The cafe seems to be open regularly, though, for late breakfast and lunch every day but Tuesday.

I also noticed Alpine Alley, just north of Mountainair’s main intersection–this looks like good coffee and light food.

Chama Fire

A train trestle north of Chama was recently destroyed in a fire–so the Cumbres & Toltec railroad service is running only on its northern leg in Colorado, from Antonio north. If you have tickets on the train from Chama, they’ll put you on a bus up to Antonio, where you can ride the rest of the train.

Unfortunately, this situation is for the foreseeable future, until they’re able to repair the trestle.

North of Santa Fe

O Eating House, in Pojoaque, is now a fairly upscale Italian restaurant (but it has the same name). It looks good, if completely different!

The stock at Chimayo Trading Post has dwindled significantly. The owner (his partner passed away) is quite old and doesn’t seem to be restocking the place. Still, if you’ve never been, it’s worth a stop–there are still some treasures here.

In Chimayo, the separate Santo Nino de Atocha chapel has been spruced up and is open all the time now–it’s a bit more modern, but sweet. Take a peek inside, especially in the side chapel.

Santa Fe changes

As I noted before, the NM history museum is now open. Signage is not quite as detailed as I’d like, but otherwise it’s a nice introduction. The exhibits in the Palace of the Governors (now accessible via the history museum) are the same, fortunately–I find these more interesting.

Walking tours run by the museum go from mid-April to mid-October (not just in summer, like the book says). They last about two hours, and the route depends on who’s leading it, but it covers a couple of miles.

Linda Durham Gallery has moved away from Canyon Road, over to 1800 2nd Street.

Collected Works books has moved to the corner of Galisteo and Water, and now has a coffeeshop inside–lovely.

Adelante Casitas is back to being called Chapelle Street Casitas. Its online booking system is buggy–better to call.

Hotel St. Francis has been redone by the Heritage Hotels & Resorts group–it looks quite chic, but the rates have of course gone up. (The same group has redone the Hotel Plaza Real as well, which is great because that used to be a wasted dump.)

Willee’s bar is shut–it’s now called Corazon and books a lot of hipper live music.

Chispa! bar closes at 11pm now.

Green Palace teahouse is shut.

Carlos’ Gosp’l Cafe is shut. The space in the Design Center now sells NYC-style pizza by the slice–it looks good!

El Tesoro in Sanbusco Center is no longer particularly Salvadoran–the menu is more standard Mex-New-Mex, but everything looks good.

The Treehouse cafe moved to 1600 Lena Street (and unfortunately didn’t bring the nursery with it!).

The Blue Heron restaurant is shut.

Miscellaneous Taos changes

Fernandez de Taos bookstore has moved around the corner, onto Paseo del Pueblo Norte just next World Cup coffee.

The road running along the Rio Grande gorge on the west side has been paved, so you can head down this way and then jog over to Ojo Caliente and on south to Santa Fe–another scenic route, with potential for a hot-springs break! Look for the turn off US 64, about a mile west of the gorge.

Taos restaurants

Joseph’s Table is shut! Sad. Sabor de Antonio, a Mexican-style seafood and steak place, is now in the space–which is funny, because this is the second time Antonio has taken over Joseph’s Table’s old space.

Dragonfly Cafe is no longer open for breakfast, except for Sunday brunch. Now it does lunch and dinner (and is closed Tues).

Guadalupe Cafe and the Sustaining Cultures bookstore is shut.

Maverick County Food Co. is shut–it’s now a Japanese place.

Apple Tree is shut.

Byzantium is substantially cheaper than it used to be.

Antonio’s has reopened next to where Guadalupe Cafe used to be, with his good Mexican menu–roast lamb, cochinita pibil.

Taos lodging

The Laughing Horse Inn is no longer particularly cheap, which is odd. I now think the Taos Inn has one of the better deals for solo travelers.

The Paragon Inn has changed names and is embroiled in a bit of a local scandal, and I can’t really bring myself to recommend the place.

Mountain Light no longer functions as a B&B, just a longer-term retreat center.

Cuba change

El Bruno’s has expanded–so there’s more room. But I have heard a couple of reports of bad food recently, along with the usual raves. Still, you don’t have much choice, as it’s the only reasonably good food for miles, and the place is now very comfortable, with patio seating.

Farmington changes

Pancake Alley is no longer open Sundays. I do not recommend the green chile stew, but everything else still looks decent.

The Bluffs is no longer open for lunch (just dinner), and it has turned its package liquor store into a bar-lounge.

Shiprock changes

The KFC in Shiprock spruced up, and its mutton stew is just not all that great (though the people who work there are wonderful!). Word on the street is that Mannings, a burger place across the way, has better stew, as do the vendors at the flea market.

The flea market is now allegedly open every day, but I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, so I am very skeptical. I got into town after 5pm (alleged closing time), but the area didn’t look like anyone had been set up there.

Also, I mention the Navajo craft shop as being on the south edge of town–it’s actually not that far south. It’s in the strip mall at the southern traffic light–kitty-corner from the KFC.

Cimarron changes

The restaurant has changed at the St. James Hotel–it’s basically one big mid-range restaurant, instead of a separate cafe and high-end operation. Food all looks decent.

Johnson’s Cabins is shut.

Raton changes

The Raton Museum has moved up to 2nd Street (the main drag), just south of Park. Much more room, and very nicely laid out.

The Icehouse is shut.

Pappas’ only serves dinner now, 5-8pm.

Most restaurants shut at 8pm; your later options are Denny’s (sigh) and The Sands, both on Clayton Ave.

And to reiterate, the Budget Host Melody Lane is truly great!

Clayton changes

Shrine of the Testaments is closed.

The Eklund hotel and restaurant was “temporarily” closed–but there was no one around to ask how long this had been going on.

There’s a new cafe just down the corner from the Luna movie theater. But in general, Clayton is really quiet on the weekends.

Las Vegas changes

Things have moved around a little on Bridge Street: the Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center moved across the street to #116, and Tome on the Range moved to #158.

Estella’s is open only 7am-2pm on Saturday (other days’ hours are still the same).

Blackjack’s Grill and Inn on the Santa Fe Trail are shut.

And by the way, I had an excellent meal at the El Fidel Restaurant, and was quite comfortable in the very cheap El Fidel Hotel.

In Mora, the Salman Ranch cafe is no longer open, but the shop and farm are still going strong.

Silver City

A couple more things, in addition to those in the earlier post:

The Bear Mountain Lodge is closed.

The Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos has been shut for a while for a renovation, but is set to reopen very soon (perhaps it has already).

Carlsbad Changes

The town is pretty stable.

NazzBar is closed.

Kitchen Zink is no longer operating out of Blue House Cafe–but the cafe is in full swing.

Driftwood Motel is now the Caverns Motel–I can’t vouch for its quality.

The new Trinity Hotel is a great addition–good restaurant/wine bar as well–at Fox Street and Canal.

Southern NM changes

I’m out on the road now, researching for the next edition. It’s been a long time–so I’ve come across a lot of closures, I think exacerbated by the recession. Apologies to everyone who has been frustrated while using the guide–I hope this new info helps some people.

Truth or Consequences

    The Red Haven motel is shut.
    Stardance Sanctuary is shut.
    Riverbend no longer has dorm beds.

Las Cruces/Mesilla

    Meson de Mesilla, the B&B and restaurant, is closed.
    The Mesilla visitors center has moved across the street, into the new town hall.

Alamogordo

    Nature’s Pantry has moved to 2909 N White Sands Blvd–north side of town.
    Old Montreal Cafe is closed.
    Plateau Espresso is oddly marked on the map–it’s a bit farther north on Scenic Dr.

Deming

    Patio Cafe is closed. (The one in Columbus is still there, fortunately.)
    Deming Truck Terminal is closed.
    Joe Perk is closed.
    Teapot Dome is closed.
    …which makes you worry you can’t get coffee in Deming! Not so–there’s a new place called @thebrew, around the corner from where Joe Perk was.

Silver City

    Vicki’s Eatery has moved to Market St between Arizona and Texas.
    Dos Baristas has changed to a different coffee joint. Can’t vouch for coffee quality.
    Spaghetti Western has changed, and is now 1zero6, under same ownership–I ate there one night, and it was excellent. Menu all over the globe, and limited to a few choices each night. BYOB.
    Silver Brewing Co. is closed.
    Miko’s Tacos is closed.
    The Twisted Vine is closed.
    …all these closures in Silver might make you think the place is dead. Not so! There are in fact many new and tasty and interesting developments, to be mentioned in the next edition.

Capitan

    The Greenhouse Cafe is shut. It’s now called Cafe Z–have to get back and check it out on a day it’s open.

Roswell

    A Taste of Europe is closed.
    The visitors center has moved, just a few blocks north on the same side of the street. It’s part of a larger convention center.

Portales

    Desert Bloom Inn is closed.

I’m still on the road, so more news to come…

New Taos Shuttle Service

Taos is jumping on the successful Rail Runner link between ABQ and Santa Fe: Starting June 4, Taos Express will run a shuttle bus will between Taos and the Santa Fe Rail Runner depot, timed with the train’s arrival, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Round-trip price is $10, and you can transfer to the Taos Chile Line town bus for free.

T or C changes

Major oversight–someone was kind enough to email me with this news months and months ago, but it got lost in the shuffle: Coffee T or C in Truth or Consequences is closed. So is White Coyote.

But there were a number of new businesses in town when I visited last summer for a piece in Budget Travel. (Not mentioned: great pastries, I think by the ex-White Coyote owner, and coffee at Black Cat Books.)

Transport news

The big news in the area is twofold:

1) As I mentioned earlier, the RailRunner commuter train now connects Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Schedules are here.

Note that, as a side effect, as far as I can tell, there is no longer a regular city bus linking the ABQ airport to downtown–there is now a free shuttle. Which would be nice, except it runs less frequently and is timed to coordinate with the RailRunner’s departures to Santa Fe. Still, if the times work in your favor, you could easily enjoy a car-free visit to Santa Fe (and Albuquerque).

2) Allegedly, daily direct flights to Santa Fe will be starting June 11. They’ll be operated by American Eagle (American Airlines) out of Dallas-Ft. Worth.

This has been on the table before, and very close to starting, so I’ll believe it when I see it.

Rail Runner to Santa Fe has started!

The Rail Runner commuter-rail service between Albuquerque and Santa Fe has officially started. This is just about the coolest thing to happen in New Mexico in decades!

For visitors, this means you could take the dedicated shuttle from the ABQ airport to the Rail Runner, and hop on the train direct to Santa Fe. No rental car, no hassle–ideal especially for a weekend getaway.

I say “could” and not “can” because a lot depends on the train schedule–it doesn’t run super-frequently (about once an hour during rush hours, with nothing in between). The last train to SF departs the ABQ Sunport stop at 6:09pm. But hopefully service will increase due to demand.

But the trip takes a little less than an hour, and you arrive in style in central Santa Fe–suave! Roundtrip is $8.

For schedules and other info, see the Rail Runner website: www.nmrailrunner.com.