Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Santa Fe, New Mexico was an unknown dream come true. I love tile. I love Spanish mission furniture. I love turquoise. I love Spanish tin art. I love religious iconography. This little town had it all.

We traveled to Santa Fe because I had a conference in Salt Lake City. We decided to fly into Albuquerque, and drive a few hours up to Santa Fe. We stayed in Santa Fe for a few days before heading on to Salt Lake City.

Turquoise Trail and The Hollar

The road that leads from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is called the Turquoise Trail. In the middle of the desert, you’ll find random tiny towns. I mean 5 building-tiny towns. One of the restaurants, The Hollar, was in a tiny town called, Madrid. We enjoyed a delicious fresh lunch (Buffalo Quesadilla and Tempeh Salad), which was much needed after the long plane ride.

Hotel St. Francis

Once we reached Santa Fe, we unloaded our bags at our hotel, Hotel St. Francis, the oldest historic hotel in the town named for Santa Fe’s patron saint. The hotel celebrates New Mexico history by sharing the story of the Franciscan missionaries’ journey through New Mexico. It is filled with Spanish mission furniture, tin art, and religious iconography.


I love tile and there is a lot of tile to be seen around town. They line the walls of the buildings and the colors are bright and beautiful.

The Town

Santa Fe features many different kinds of architecture and building adornments than I am used to. The adobe architecture that radiates heat at night incorporates Spanish wood designs. Catalan flags adorn building fronts. Ristras, a string of dried chilies, hang from man homes and buildings.


We spent about two hours in Mediterrania, a shop that we accidentally stumbled in to. I was looking at the tile on the wall and leaned in to look at the continuation of tile. Once inside, the owner welcomed us and told us to feel ‘at home’. I originally thought it was the kind of shop I couldn’t afford things in, but there is a mix of very affordable reproduction pieces and antique (more expensive) pieces. The owner used to live in Spain and continues to travel back to find and refurbish antique pieces. He engaged my husband in conversation and entertained our many questions about the pieces for nearly an hour, while I engaged the owner’s friend who was visiting that day in conversation about his former academic life. We had so many questions about the origins of the pieces and the owner was extremely knowledgeable about the pieces and the history of the regions of Spain that we asked about. He even gave us a restaurant recommendation for our last night in town (see below). We ended up purchasing a beautiful Catalan hand-pottery plate to hang on our wall. The owner shipped it to us and it arrived intact. It was the kind of experience we could have never planned to have, but one that we will never forget. I encourage you to stop in, see the history, discover something you didn’t expect to, and engage in conversation about the history of Spain.

El Meson Restaurant and Tapas Bar

The best restaurant that we ate at is called El Mason Restaurant and Tapas Bar. This is was the perfect restaurant to enjoy on our last night in Santa Fe. We ate in the dining room and were seated in the back corner, which was nice and private. We had a wonderful waiter who was able to answer our questions about the wine and food. Bread and delicious Spanish olive oil were brought to our table to start. We ordered several different tapas- patatas bravas, olives, manchego and quince, and blood sausage. They were all delicious.