This adorable little café is one of those places that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking for it. And you might miss it even if you are looking for it. It’s located just off the road along Hwy 14, about 7 miles south of the intersection of I-25 and Hwy 14 near Santa Fe. It is open daily for breakfast and lunch.
The grounds of the café are unique to say the least. Peacocks and turkeys and chickens roam free (or semi-free; there’s a fence), and behind the building are several aviaries for turkeys, doves, and other birds. You might also catch a peek of what we call the “Lady GaGa Chicken” which is pretty much a chicken in a really fluffy feather suit.
The inside of the café is just as charming, with uniquely painted and crafted wooden tables and chairs, and a cozy fire in the fireplace (this day, at least).
Cups of coffee all around and cinnamon rolls for everyone. That’s how we wanted to start this trip.
San Marcos Cinnamon Roll
San Marcos Coffee
The cinnamon rolls are flaky and sweet and delicious — everything a good cinnamon roll should be. The coffee is tasty. This is a great duo to start off a weekend getaway.
Overall, we have fully enjoyed our stops at San Marcos both times we’ve been so far. Hopefully we’ll get to stop by again soon for a full meal, because their menu looks pretty amazing (burritos, green chile stew, huevos rancheros, and other NM staples).
SAN MARCOS CAFE
3877 State Rd 14
Santa Fe, NM 87508
(a few miles south of Santa Fe on Hwy 14, west side of the road)
I woke up the morning Trickster, ZymologistBob, and I were to take our pilgrimage to Santa Fe for Meow Wolf with high spirits.
I do not use the world “pilgrimage” lightly; since its opening in 2015, the installation has garnered astonishment, revere, and, from all I had heard and read, unparalleled wonder among the millions who have wandered through it. Meow Wolf has truly become a New Mexican rite of passage, especially, in my opinion, because it usually involves a commute (if not an outright journey), which tends to become an equally memorable facet of any experience. Similarly, I think the wonder of Meow Wolf is further strengthened by its rather unusual location in the national, cultural context. Here stands a diamond in the rough that triumphantly shouts New Mexico is becoming on par—nay, competitive with—places like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in terms of cerebral uniqueness that for once has nothing to do with our history, but rather, and finally, the contemporary. It is a monument to us moving forward rather than us perpetually finding our identity in looking back.
About halfway to Santa Fe, we saw a billboard: a hodgepodge of colors, shapes, and lettering reminiscent of the 1980s. It just said “Meow Wolf.” No description. No indication of how many more miles left or which exit to take. We did not know it at the time, but this was outstanding foreshadowing.
After parking behind an auto repair shop on a side street a block and a half away (be prepared for this if you don’t arrive before or by the time doors open), it was then a literal uphill battle to the abandoned-bowling-alley-turned-art-space. About half an hour in line later, we made it inside the foyer, which included paintings of Spirograph-like designs and shellfish. Inching a bit more through the lobby and to the cashiers, we paid the $16 entry fee (the reduced price for NM residents) and went in.
My high spirits remained, and we were determined to “solve the great mystery” of the House of Eternal Return. Trickster was advised that we “start at the mailbox.” After shuffling through its contents of sympathy cards, we took a mental note of their who, what, when, where, and why, and climbed the porch steps to enter the House’s living room through the front door.
And it was reminiscent of the parties my roommates used to hold when I was an undergrad sharing a 2-story house near campus with 5 guys.
I did not last 3 months in that house (a testament more to myself and my reserve). And I did not last 3 minutes in the living room of the House of Eternal Return.
The sounds and the smells of overcrowding were enough to make me abandon my role as sleuth and instead divert to casual observer.
For me personally, it was just too crowded, although I understand some have no problem with that. However, as someone who also has a slight aversion to (and fear) of children, it was even more overwhelming; we were smack dab in the middle of the Winter Break, after all. So rather than try to read through the photo albums, newspapers, and books that no doubt had more clues, we hightailed it through the fireplace to the mammoth-skeleton xylophone. (No, I am not the last recipient in a game of Telephone.)
After the visual stimulation had worn off, though, I found myself facing the same issue once more. There were too many people (i.e., children) slamming the mammoth’s musical ribcage, which both gave me the gist of what it did and made me ready to move on to the next exhibit as soon as possible.
Thus was our method for experiencing the rest of Meow Wolf, hastily absorbing the essentials of any given room before moving on. We had gone through all of the installation in slightly over an hour this way: roughly a third of the time folks usually spend there.
I must give credit to Meow Wolf’s element of surprise. For example, I had momentarily forgotten the installation is supposed to take place within one house; the mammoth led us to a spaceship which led us to a forest which led us to a bridge which led us to a teenage girl’s bedroom on the second story.
There is just enough order to give method to the madness, and there is just enough madness in the order to keep you interested.
I think to describe any particularly noteworthy exhibit or exhibits is fruitless, for what is noteworthy to me was not to [Trickster], was not to [ZymologistBob], and was not to any other patron. I think the Meow Wolf experience is a self-determining industry.
What you derive from it is based on your own experience, not just within the space, but also as the word also means your identity shaped by a collection of your memories up to that point. Perhaps this means, then, that my overall “It was OK” attitude speaks only to my own self: an overstimulated and introverted millennial whose dog had just died.
I did have one memorable experience, however. December brought a lot of personal hardship for me. When we came across a camper that had a tarot card reader inside it (this is apparently a regular thing, by the way), I was eager to withstand the 25-minute wait in line to see her. I was given lots of advice about my job, which was eerily spot-on (even if I was desperate for her to give me any direction in the personal realm instead). Perhaps I also enjoyed it so much because it was my first and only opportunity for me to enjoy Meow Wolf more privately (sort of…people are welcome to walk through the camper, and many stop to witness your reading).
Personally, I will not be among the droves of people who swear Meow Wolf is the most incredible, life-changing thing they have ever seen. However, as with any piece of art, maybe that is just my own interpretation of it. Like its billboard, you cannot go with any pre-determined needs. For me, my needs unfortunately were a bit more personal, if not outrageous: I was just hoping for fewer than 950 people during a time everyone was on Christmas vacation and no doubt had visiting friends and family they needed to entertain as well as their own children. Thus, I would recommend it at least be checked out once, but ideally on a weekday and as close to opening hour as possible.
However, I will always appreciate something that is so essentially part of New Mexico’s identity now that the day a child pooped in an exhibit toilet there, it made headlines across the state for two days.
Visit the Meow Wolf official site for hours, directions, and ticket pricing. Please let us know if you attend and have a life-altering experience!
I have a confession to make. Look away now if you don’t want to know my shame. Ready? Deep breath. Here I go. Oh man, this is so hard. Okay, here it is.
I went to Meow Wolf and I was….eh…about the whole experience.
Look, I’m as surprised as you are. Everything about the idea of Meow Wolf intrigued me. The immersive art experience in Santa Fe is all about the fantastical and creative multimedia installations.
Centered around the permanent installation, House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf offers visitors the opportunity to explore a Victorian house owned by the Selig Family that due to some mystery has dissolved time and space. Everyone I talked to raved about Meow Wolf and told me how amazing and life changing the experience was. People who had visited had been multiple times like some it was some religious journey to Mecca. Based on all of that, I mean what’s not to love?
But alas, I didn’t. [ZymologistBob], our new blogger [Trinitite], and I made our own journey to Meow Wolf Mecca to experience the exhibit first hand. I should have known once we saw the giant spider metal installation standing guard outside the building that Meow Wolf might not really be the place for me. But I wasn’t going to let that deter me from the magic inside. We waited in line (there are always lines and crowds at Meow Wolf) and shared our excitement with other wanna be patrons. As we checked in, I asked the cashier if there were any tips to getting the full experience out of the exhibit.
“There’s no right way or wrong way to experience Meow Wolf,” she said, “but start with the mailbox.”
We went in and started at the mailbox. There were letters and postcards from the Selig family, I think. It didn’t make much sense. But you know, that’s okay. I didn’t need things to make sense. I just needed whimsy and magic. We entered the Victorian house and started exploring. There were secret entrances that led to different worlds. A fireplace that led to a prehistoric area. A refrigerator that led to somewhere. I can’t really remember. Don’t get me wrong, the attention to detail and the artistry is supreme. It was gorgeous. It was magical. It was creative.
But it was just too much. Too much color, too much light, too much of it not making sense. It was like a giant artistic flea market where every artist peddled their creativity, but as a whole it was overwhelming. The mystery reminded me of an escape room experience, but without any real clues that I could find. Add to that the crowds and I couldn’t really enjoy myself. And to be honest, the place smelled. Like a fast food restaurant play area on a hot day.
So there you have it, my confession. I’m not saying don’t go to Meow Wolf. Maybe you’ll experience a life changing experience there. But as for me, I’m going to look elsewhere.
Visit the Meow Wolf official site for hours, directions, and ticket pricing. Please let us know if you attend and have a life-altering experience!
I’m pretty sure I might have found a restaurant that serves the best green chile in the state. Nay, not just the best green chile, but perhaps the best New Mexican food I’ve had. Okay, maybe that’s too bold of a statement. Besides, I haven’t eaten at every restaurant in the state that serves New Mexican food. There could be a lovely little place in Datil that really deserves the honor of “the best”.
However, I am going to say that Horseman’s Haven Café serves the best New Mexican food and green chile in Santa Fe. A group of us went to restaurant after our rafting trip, based off of a recommendation of a friend. She did warn us to not be thrown off about the location. It’s located next to a gas station and from the outside looks like it could be an iffy place. But as I’m not particularly prissy, I was game. Besides, I was famished and had already started to secretly eye my friends to see which one’s arm I could gnaw off. The inside of Horseman’s has a typical country diner feel, with an open kitchen, plenty of tables and chairs and booths big enough to seat the nine of us.
I think my friends realized their limbs might be in imminent danger as they kept placing the chips and salsa directly in front of me. The chips were thicker than most chips I’ve eaten at restaurants. The salsa was full of flavor and fresh. It also was less chunky than most salsa. But while it had flavor, it wasn’t particularly hot.
For my meal, I ordered a 3D burrito which comes with papas, a choice of meat and chile. Most of my friends also ordered the 3D as well, with variations on the meat and chile. My cousin ordered a combination plate just so that she could have a side of posole, to which I mocked her openly. I have a deep, abiding bitterness towards hominy–it’s just gross. But I did acknowledge the fact that it was cool that posole was an option as a side item, not something that I find is standard at most restaurants.
Apparently, there are different levels of chile that you can order at Horseman’s. I’ve heard that Level I is hot chile and Level 2 is for people who don’t cry at the end of “The Notebook”—you know, tough hombres. I myself probably fall somewhere like a 1.75. I like my chile really, really hot. If I’m not sweating and crying, it’s just not enjoyable. But I’m not above bawling like a baby if chile is too hot (or at “The Notebook” because come on, he wrote her all those letters). I didn’t see level options on the menu and our waiter didn’t ask us. I’m guessing he looked at us and made a command decision.**
So I’m not sure which level of chile I had smothered all over my burrito, but that’s okay. Because my burrito was delightful. In fact, I’m going to go out on a very corny limb and suggest that the 3D in the burrito stands for delightful, decadent and delicious! I say decadent because the burrito was huge. I didn’t even finish half the burrito and remember, I was this close to eating my friends before we walked into the café. The chicken tasted fresh, the papas were cubed and fried to perfection and then there was the green chile. I sweated. I cried. The chile was so hot it burned my lips and I fell in love more with each bite and each tear. Everyone else commented that they enjoyed their food as well. I will say the green chile was preferable to the red chile. Those at the table who got the red seemed a bit disappointed over the lack of heat, and I sensed their envious and bitter looks out of the corner of my eye. But that also could have been just looks of embarrassment as I was making odd moaning noises after each bite. I’m telling you, the green chile was good.
And here’s how you really know Horseman’s Have Café is worth trying out. My cousin insisted I try her posole. I did and guess what? It was great! I might even try it as a side when I’m at Horseman’s next time. Maybe. If the hominy behaves itself.
**I went back to Horseman’s in August and asked to have a side of Level 2. I did warn the waitress that if I cried to not take it personally, that it was just likely me being too wussy for the chile. She said that Level 2 only comes as a side, it’s way too hot to have smothered on your food. I put some on my stuffed sopapilla (not as good as the 3-D burrito, but good) and took a bite. It was the hottest, most flavorful chile I have ever eaten. Like seriously, four hours later I could still taste the chile on my lips. Totally worth it. And I didn’t cry!