Sip and Savor Your Way Along Santa Fe’s Margarita Trail


by Debbie Stone, photos courtesy of Santa Fe Tourism


When visitors come to Santa Fe, one of the first questions they ask is, “Where can I get a good margarita?” The answer might overwhelm them, as the City Different boasts nearly four dozen destinations featuring this popular libation on their cocktail list. There’s a good reason for this claim to fame and it can be traced to the town’s historical roots.

Though the margarita was probably not invented in Santa Fe, the city is regarded to be the first place in the world where tequila was exported from Mexico. We have the Spanish settlers to thank, as it was their experimentation with distilling agave that gave birth to tequila. And we all know that tequila is the primary ingredient of any margarita.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen in Santa Fe led the charge, taking the margarita to a new level by crafting one of the most prolific collections of margaritas in the country, containing two hundred different options on its menu. It didn’t take long before other establishments got in the game. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a bar or restaurant in the city that doesn’t feature this noted drink on its cocktail list.


A fun way to sample the variety of margaritas in Santa Fe is to follow the Margarita Trail. You can download your Margarita Passport or pick up a copy at any of the downtown visitor centers. They’re also available at most of the participating locations. Passport in hand or on your phone, head out to any of the watering holes or restaurants listed. Many are located within the city’s central historical area and easily reached on foot.

At each of the establishments, present your passport and get a dollar discount on the house margarita. Collect stamps from the different locations along the trail to earn prizes, like a commemorative Margarita Trail t-shirt, an autographed copy of “The Great Margarita Book” by Al Lucero, or the Margarita Bartender Kit. At the fifteen stamp level, you’ll become a member of the Margarita Society and invited to special free events held a few times each year. Of course, this is a great incentive for locals to participate.

Tasting the margaritas is of course the best part of this adventure. But, it’s also an opportunity to experience the ambiance of each place, as well as have a few appetizers or even a meal along the way. I know I can’t have a margarita without my chips and guac. Some spots offer live music, which is an added bonus.

The range of margaritas is extensive. At the Cowgirl BBQ, a Western-themed bar and eatery, the Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita is the specialty. It’s made with Grand Marnier and fresh squeezed lime and oranges, then served over the rocks in a red Chile salted stem glass. Over at the Boxcar, Santa Fe’s premier sports bar and live music venue, get your taste buds ready for plenty of spice when you taste the H.O.T.T. (Hot on the Trail) margarita. Ingredients include green chile-infused Sauza blue tequila and a dash of tabasco.

La Plazuela at La Fonda on the Plaza has its own special margarita mix for the Smokey Margarita, served in a glass with an Alderwood smoked salt rim. While at the Low ‘n slow Lowrider Bar, a lounge known for its distinctive lowrider style (think diamond tuck upholstered seats, hub caps and tables made of chromed chain-link steering wheels!), the Chimayoso Margarita is the main attraction. Made with Serrano-infused Tequila Reposado, apricot liqueur and lime juice, this concoction is garnished with citrus peels in homage to the weaving traditions of the nearby village of Chimayó.

The Luminaria Restaurant & Patio offers up a sweet and hot combination called the Strawberry-Jalapeño Margarita. Not too hard to imagine the ingredients in this one!

One of the more unusual concoctions can be found at Float Café and Bar, inside Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return. The latter is an immersive art world with installations and multimedia elements. The house appropriated named Meowgarita is a fusion of reposado tequila, Cointreau, agave, lime juice and a splash of butterfly pea flower tea, topped with a cloud of cotton candy.

Since the program’s inception in 2016, over 6,000 Margarita Trail Apps have been downloaded and more than 12,000 paper Passports have been sold. Both visitors and locals have embraced this unique way to enjoy the flavors of the southwest. And if you’re motivated to play mixologist when you get home, the recipes for each of the margaritas are conveniently listed in the Passport.

Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, and regular contributor for Big Blend Radio and Big Blend Magazines, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries and to all seven continents.

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About the Author:

Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, and regular contributor for Big Blend Radio and Big Blend Magazines, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners

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