An emerging crop of unusual design and home-furnishings shops is turning Santa Fe's eccentric Guadalupe District ― a neighborhood long embraced by locals as an unstuffy foil to the Plaza and Canyon Road ― into a shopping destination offering alternatives to the ubiquitous Santa Fe style.
Just a 10-minute stroll southwest of the Plaza, the Guadalupe (aka Railyard) District is mostly a haven of oddball boutiques and gift shops. But places like the Design Center, a tony antiques arcade housed in an art deco building that was formerly a Chevy dealership, are beginning to draw luminaries such as Tom Ford and Jane Fonda.
The center's most esteemed shop, Claiborne Gallery, long a leading source for high-end Latin American antiques, juxtaposes Old World finery with streamline moderne; an 18th-century sabina-wood table from Mexico sits beside an angular leather-and-iron desk, one of the many new pieces designed by owner Omer Claiborne.
Across the hall, Gloria List Gallery specializes in rare 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century devotional and folk art, chiefly from South America, Italy, Spain, and Mexico. And at Sparrow & Magpie Antiques, owner Julie Vaughan carries American antiques, folk art, and textiles. One of her most distinctive offerings ― a red-and-white Depression-era grain bin ― hails from northern New Mexico's San Luis Valley.
You'll find several other first-rate design shops nearby on the neighborhood's main drag, Guadalupe Street. Bosshard Furnishings & Ethnographica deals in Southeast Asian ethnographics, like a 19th-century bronze-and-bamboo elephant bell from Burma, plus tapestries, architectural elements, statues, and ceramics from the Southwest and Africa. Just around the corner, Tarman Galleries stocks museum-quality furniture and art, including original works by Ernest Blumenschein, Albert Bierstadt, and Eliot Porter. When it comes to furniture, Tarman's owner buys heavily from local estates, gleaning finds such as a Louis Phillipe marble-top commode and a pair of early-20th-century Italian andirons.
At nearby Casa Nova, South Africa transplant Natalie Fitz-Gerald sells functional art from around the world, deftly mixing colors, textures, and cultural icons. Old and new items range from stylish pewter tableware from South Africa to vintage hand-carved votive offerings from Brazil. Next door at Asian Adobe, browse porcelain lamps, red-lacquer armoires, and other Chinese artifacts and antiques. Check out the contemporary wares of more than 70 northern New Mexico artists at Santa Fe Pottery, where you'll find everything from raku to wood-fired stoneware.
Unusual shops aren't the district's only noteworthy attractions. With an unflinchingly futuristic façade, Site Santa Fe museum presents provocative modern-art exhibits; the Fifth International Biennial show runs through January 9. Down the street, El Museo Cultural hosts rotating art exhibits, musical performances, and lectures celebrating the city's rich Hispanic heritage; it's also the indoor winter site of Santa Fe's farmers' market.
For a travel planner, contact the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau ( www.santafe.org and 800/777-2489).
El Museo Cultural. 1-5 Tue-Sat. The winter farmers' market is held here every Sat Nov-Apr (9-1). Closed Sun-Mon. 1615 Paseo de Peralta; 505/992-0591.
Site Santa Fe. Closed Mon-Tue; $8. 1606 Paseo de Peralta; www.sitesantafe.org or 505/989-1199.
Asian Adobe. Closed Sun. 530 S. Guadalupe St.; 505/992-6846.
Bosshard Furnishings & Ethnographica. 340 Read St.; 505/989-9150.
Casa Nova. Closed Sun. 530 S. Guadalupe St.; 505/983-8558.
Claiborne Gallery. Closed Sun-Mon. Design Center, 418 Cerrillos Rd.; 505/982-8019.
Gloria List Gallery. Closed Sun-Mon. Design Center (see above); 505/982-5622.
Santa Fe Pottery. 323 S. Guadalupe St.; 505/989-3363.
Sparrow & Magpie Antiques. Closed Sun-Mon. Design Center (see above); 505/982-1446.
Tarman Galleries. Closed Sun. 343 W. Manhattan Ave.; 505/983-2336.
Café Dominic. Order tasty New Mexican fare from the counter. $. 320 S. Guadalupe St.; 505/982-4743.
Cleopatra Café. Located in the Design Center, it turns out hearty falafel and Turkish coffee. $; closed Sun. 418 Cerrillos; 505/820-7381.
Santa Fe Railyard Restaurant and Bar. A trendy spot serving New Orleans-inspired fare like jambalaya. $; closed Sun. 530 S. Guadalupe St.; 505/989-8363.