In February of 1880, the first train pulled into Santa Fe. The area around the station boomed at first, but over the course of a century it gradually declined. The city inaugurated a redevelopment plan in 2002, and the Railyard District has spent the last 15 years adding restaurants, galleries, and shops to form what is today known as the locals’ downtown.
Opened in late 2021, Altar Spirits is both a Willie Wonka–style lab—where cofounder Caley Shoemaker, a former master distiller at Hangar 1, creates New Mexico–inspired spirits such as the juniper- and piñon-based Sigil Gin—and a chic cocktail lounge. “We’re dedicated to making next-level cocktails,” says bartender Jonah Prokopiak. “We’re one of the only bars in Santa Fe doing that right now.”
At this exhibition space, the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation displays multisensory digital pieces from a collection of more than 300 works by artists such as Nam June Paik and William Kentridge. “Our collection is both innovative and historical,” says director Kathleen Richards. “It demonstrates the breadth of digital art.” Don’t miss the interactive piece that includes a workout on a rowing machine.
A Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is an investor in this scenic train, the sides of which are adorned with graffiti murals of dragons. “We call it entertrainment, with live music in every car, craft cocktails, and theatrical performances, like Wild West or improv,” says director of onboard services Bryan Deutsch. Themed trips run regularly between Santa Fe and the historic town of Lamy.
This café (whose name combines the collective nouns for rhinos, crows, and ferrets) makes caffeinated “elixirs” featuring ingredients such as curry and aloe-soaked chia seeds. “Our baristas are like bartenders,” says owner and “coffee-ologist” Ranier Wood. “The drinks are insanely complex, and they named themselves. I mean, who can resist a Loveliness of Ladybugs or a Lounge of Lizards?”
The vendors at Santa Fe’s only food hall offer a trip around the comfort-food world, from New York City (Reubens at Alex’s Deli) to Cambodia (curries at Nath’s Inspired Khmer Cuisine). As Kimnath Nou, the chef-owner of Nath’s, sums it up: “My motto is ‘Live to eat, not eat to live!’” The drinks at the hall bar, Bottega del Vino, are designed to complement the cuisine at the various stalls.
A fashionable new ownership group has reimagined this 200-year-old adobe farmhouse, creating a 16-room inn that supports an arts nonprofit. “In the morning, you’re in for a good surprise—breakfasts are classic favorites with a Southeast Asian twist,” says head chef Martin Blanco. After eating, pop by the affiliated retail shop around the corner, Mountain Standard Time, for local art and goods.