Crowds around Santa Fe's popular Plaza can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but here's a neighborhood that's still a discovery.
Closed in by centuries-old adobes, East De Vargas Street is little more than an alley, a passage wide enough for a single vehicle and a couple of pedestrians.
Modest as it is, the street is at the heart of Barrio de Analco, an often-overlooked part of Santa Fe. "Analco" means "the other side of the water," and this area south of the Santa Fe River dates to 1620. While not an imposing barrier, the river has helped the barrio maintain its sense of separateness and authenticity.
The heart of the neighborhood is south of the Plaza in the vicinity of Old Santa Fe Trail and E. De Vargas St. For more information, contact the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau (800/777-2489).
The Pink Adobe A recent renovation and menu update have reinvigorated this 1944 landmark known for its arty, old Santa Fe atmosphere and Steak Dunigan entrée. Its lounge, the Dragon Room Bar, features paintings by restaurant founder Rosalea Murphy. INFO: $$$; no cover charge; 406 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505/983-7712.
Rio Chama Grilled specialties and a lively bar are the draws at this spot that blends contemporary and traditional Southwestern touches in both its cuisine and decor. INFO: $$$$; 414 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505/955-0765.
315 Restaurant & Wine Bar The popular French restaurant's wine bar offers 20 wines by the glass. INFO: 315 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505/986-9190.
San Miguel Mission While its status as the oldest church in the country is a matter of historical debate, there's no denying the appeal of its simple adobe architecture and the beauty of its 18th-century altar screen. INFO: $1; 401 Old Santa Fe Trail; 505/983-3974.
Santa Fe Playhouse Founded by celebrated writer Mary Austin in 1922, its productions include both classics and works by first-time playwrights. Next up is Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses, May 15-Jun 1. INFO: $15; 142 E. De Vargas St.; 505/988-4262.
DISCOVER AN ART SECRET
Built in 1966 and inspired by the Zia sun symbol, the New Mexico State Capitol (call 505/986-4589 for hours) is more reminiscent of a kiva than some classical landmark. Nicknamed the Roundhouse, it's also home to one of Santa Fe's best (and overlooked) collections of works by contemporary New Mexico artists, with pieces displayed on four levels as well as on the grounds and in the new Capitol North building.