When visiting Canyon Road tell InArt “Edible sent you” for FREE Parking across the street at the public parking lot.

Story written by Sheli Armstrong

Santa Fe in summertime or anytime for that matter, is like no other destination, and Canyon Road is like no other road in the world. Known as El Camino del Cañon until 1951, it was a dirt road that remained unpaved until the early 1960s. This historic road is rich with culture, from the original adobe and territorial architecture, to more than 100 art galleries tucked away on just a half-mile stretch of road in the very heart of Santa Fe. The road does not end there, however, there is so much more to behold. I know. I lived on Canyon Road.

A native of Santa Fe, I spent a lot of time on Upper Canyon Road, a section many people miss when wandering the galleries and shops down below. Here, a morning hike is a vigorous way to start the day.  Bordering the Santa Fe National Forest is a 190-acre urban preserve run by the Nature Conservancy, which consists of the Dale Ball Trails, a 22-mile hiking and bike trail. Even further up Canyon Road is another 135-acre nature preserve, the Randall Davey Audubon Center and Sanctuary, which was the property and home of artist Randall Davey, a nationally known modernist painter. Davey, an important part of the Santa Fe Art colony, was a skilled painter, printmaker and sculptor, He purchased the land in 1920 and converted an old stone sawmill into his home and studio. The buildings are now preserved as a museum, which includes Davey’s original furnishings as well as many paintings by the artist.


Video by Walt Cameron (Editor’s Pick on Tripfilms.com)

Situated on the southeast corner of Camino Cerrito and Upper Canyon Road sits one of the most fascinating structures in Santa Fe: Cristo Rey Church. Not to be missed, the adobe church was designed in the late 1930’s by renowned Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem. By the 1930’s, the population around Canyon Rd. had grown, and the locals wished for their own church. Their unusual request was that it be built to feature a huge 20 x 40 foot hand carved stone retablo or alter screen, carved by Bernardo Miera Y Pacheco in 1760 from stone that was quarried just North of Santa Fe. This relic of Santa Fe’s Colonial Period was salvaged from the demolition of one of the Spanish’s first chapels, known as La Castrense, and was gathering dust in storage in the cathedral in Santa Fe. The parishioners contributed to the building effort, hand making more than 100,000 adobe bricks, and harvesting vigas and corbels from the neighboring forest. The church was completed in just over a year, and to date is the largest single construction of adobe in the United States.( i)

After an early morning hike, head to the Stables compound for breakfast at the Teahouse. The Teahouse, a fantastic space with Asian influences, is an acclaimed restaurant, wine bar and beer garden offering more than 150 exotic teas from around the world. According to Teahouse owner Dionne Christian, the building dates back to 1839 and before that, the compound served as horse stables run by the Vigil family. During the ’60s and ’70s, the compound became artist studios, and it has been the home of the Teahouse since 2003. The iconic restaurant is not to be missed during your visit; a stop for breakfast might include steel cut oatmeal and black sticky rice with loads of cream and real maple syrup, and a cup of steaming Lotus Oolong. The Teahouse offers a full menu, which offers daily soup specials, unique sandwiches, fresh salads, regular and gluten-free baked goods and desserts, all delicious and made from scratch daily.

Just next door (also located at the Stables compound) is Anderson-Williams Gallery/Studio. Here I met artist Robert Anderson, who was outdoors painting on a large easel. Anderson is not a newcomer to Canyon Road; he’s one of Santa Fe’s beloved artists. He prefers to paint outdoors and spends much of his day there, painting in different styles, creating thickly-textured, dimensional landscapes full of whimsy and magic. His paintings grab your attention, you’ll want to step into his world and spend a little more time. Anderson builds frames from reclaimed wood found in all sorts of interesting places, which become the perfect piece to finish his work.

High above the wooden staircase is Beloved Jewelry. This section of the Stables was a former hayloft. The original barn doors are the entrance into the world of artist, printmaker, jeweler and photographer Catherine Trapani, who finds the loft space fitting for her work. Trapani left Seattle to live her dream in Santa Fe: passionate about finding interesting, one-of-a-kind objects, she creates unique pieces incorporating rare prayer beads, sapphires, turquoise, coral and antique French Madonnas. She particularly loves working one-on-one with clients to create signature pieces.

On Canyon Road, the shopping never ends, and when you step into the carefully curated shop of Curiosa, you may never leave! Shop owner Shawna Tatom has an eye for delightful and interesting objects. Here, you’ll find beautiful jewelry, cards, unique treasures made by local artists – one is  Tatom’s husband Michael Tatom, and miniature bronze sculptures made by Steve Worthington. Originally, Tatom’s boutique was a pottery shop, The Fickery, owned by artist Jorge Fick and his wife. Now filled with old-world charm, Tatom’s Curiosa is an eclectic and truly unexpected shopping experience.

Though there are dozens of galleries and shops in the Canyon Road neighborhood, there are only a handful of restaurants, including Santa Fe landmark, The Compound, owned by chef Mark Kiffin.  The building was originally the centerpiece of a group of houses known as the McComb Compound, long before artists and tourist discovered Santa Fe. In the earlier part of the 20th century, when Santa Fe was a long way from the rest of the world, movie stars, industrialists, and socialites visited, where they could rent a house in relative seclusion. Eventually, Will and Barbara Houghton acquired the main house and converted it into a restaurant. It was their decision to bring in designer Alexander Girard, who gave The Compound Restaurant its distinctive look and who is best remembered for his generous donation of more than 106,000 pieces to Santa Fe’s International Folk Art Museum. Known for his design work with Herman Miller and Charles and Ray Eames, Girard’s work also includes the famed La Fonda del Sol Restaurant in New York. (ii) In 2000, Mark Kiffin reopened The Compound, and since then, he has been one of the most celebrated chefs in Santa Fe, and America. A 2005 James Beard Award winner for ‘Best Chef in the Southwest’, Kiffin is known for his Mediterranean, local and regional influences to create delicious seasonal dishes.

Just a few steps up the road sits the acclaimed Geronimo Restaurant. An early Spanish settler on Canyon Road was Geronimo Lopez, who purchased his farm there in 1753. By 1769, Lopez owned two houses on the property with an adjoining orchard of 14 trees, plus crop and pasture land. Expanded in the late nineteenth century with a row of new rooms facing the street, the Geronimo Lopez house is now the home of Geronimo Restaurant at 724 Canyon Road.(iii) Alfresco dining on the portal is a must. Equally enchanting is the interior dining space, including the remodeled midsection, which can be reserved for private parties. Geronimo is the quintessential fine dining experience, the seasonal and unique menu items change every few weeks, and the restaurant boasts a stellar wine list.

Clearly, Canyon Road is unique, there’s definitely no place else like it. So much of the beauty and charm that is Santa Fe, the best open spaces for hiking, amazing art, people watching, dining and shopping can all be found here in this short half mile stretch. So often we take for granted what visitors find so charming and lovely about where we live; I encourage you to revisit Canyon Road, and take in all the eclectic beauty and ancient history this road has to offer.

A native of New Mexico, Sheli Armstrong has over 20 years of experience in hospitality working in world-class resorts from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to Los Poblanos Historic Inn. She’s the owner of SoireeQ, Special Event Artistry and writes regularly for several publications.


i. Greg Alegretti, Cristo Rey Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

ii. The Compound, History.

iii. New Mexico Office of the State Historian, Canyon Road – 1750. www.newmexicohistory.org/filedetails.php?fileID=413

Neighborhood Guide

Beloved Jewlery
Beloved Jewelry offers an exquisite collection of jewelry made from antique beads and rare gems from such exotic locales as Tibet, India, Italy and France.  Reflecting owner Catherine Trapani’s passion for beauty, substance and style, BELOVED is a well-edited, intimate gallery of jewelry and fine prints.  

821 Canyon Road, Upstairs, Santa Fe, NM  87501
Thursday-Sunday 12pm – 5pm and by appointment.
www.belovedtheshop.com, info@belovedtheshop.com, 206-391-9150

Coulter-Brooks Art & Antiques
Coulter-Brooks Art & Antiques hosts an inventory of Native American items including Navajo and Pueblo weaving, jewelry and objects. The inventory represents an equal emphasis on the furnishings and devotional art of Spanish New Mexico including tinwork, bultos, retablos and furniture from the Colonial through the WPA era. Regional painting and prints related to New Mexico and the interior West are also a consistent interest along with books and publications on the region’s art history, material culture and decorative arts. Lane Coulter and Jan Brooks have a long interest in the historic architecture of Spanish New Mexico and in supplying period furnishings, lighting and authentic accent pieces that represent the region’s diverse cultural expression.

924 Paseo de Peralta #4, Santa Fe,NM 87501
By appointment.
www.coulterbrooks.com, 505-577-7051

Tucked inside this gem of a shop is a carefully curated collection of items that range from fantastical and decorative to rustic. With the natural world as muse, the shop is like a wondrous cabinet of curiosities holding delights that are both intriguing and functional.  

718 Canyon Rd,  Santa Fe, NM 87501
Monday-Saturday 10:30-5; Sunday 12pm – 5pm.
curiosasantafe@yahoo.com, 505-988-2420

Inart santa fe

InArt is located in the original family home and won the prestigious “Heritage Award” in 2004 for Historical Remodel from the City of Santa Fe. In Art is owned and operated by a 14th generation native Santa Fean with friendly and knowledgeable staff. InArt offers visitors an elegant environment in which to discover many contemporary artistic media. And remember to tell InArt “Edible sent you” for FREE Parking across the street at the public parking lot. 

219 Delgado Street, Santa Fe , NM 87501
Monday-Saturday 10-5:30; Sunday 11am – 4pm.
inartsantafe.com, 505-983-6537

The Compound
Chef/owner Mark Kiffin pairs seasonal contemporary American cuisine with great service in an historic adobe building designed by Alexander Girard. Extensive wine list, full bar, picturesque garden patios and elegant settings for private events.

653 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Lunch Monday – Saturday 11:30am – 2pm. Dinner Nightly from 5:30pm. Bar opens at 5pm.
www.compoundrestaurant.com, 505-982-4353

The Teahouse
The Teahouse on Canyon Road in Santa Fe is an acclaimed restaurant, wine bar, beer garden, specialty tea store and wholesaler of more than 150 teas from around the globe. Owner Dionne Christian is committed to providing guests with a unique and relaxed dining experience amid more than 100 galleries.

821 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
7 days a week, 8am – 7pm.
www.teahousesantafe.com, 505-992-0972

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