Santa Fe is very much a living museum, and nowhere is this more obvious than at El Farol on Canyon Road. For the past 180 years — since 1835 — the old adobe building that houses El Farol has been a warm gathering place of great food, outstanding entertainment and warm friendship.

Earlier this year, USA Today compiled a list of the most historic restaurants across America. El Farol was glad but not surprised to find itself on the list. Included with the best of Yankee taverns and historic hotspots, El Farol stands out as a place not only steeped in the past, but also up to date with the present. Beyond the extraordinary menu boasting tapas and entrees made with local ingredients, El Farol also hosts some of the best night life in the City Different.

“I take umbrage when people say there’s no night life in Santa Fe,” says owner David Salazar. “For the past 28 years, we’ve had live music here at El Farol seven days a week. Basically we try to have people come out, have good food, listen to a little bit of music or dance and get home by 10:30 and still be able to function the next day. On the weekends, we let our hair down a little bit more and stay a little bit later.”

December’s holiday lineup includes smooth jazz saxophonist Trey Keepin on December 18, and the Mirabal Dinner Show on December 20, 29 and 30, put on by two-time Grammy award-winner Robert Mirabal. Nacha Mendez graces the night of December 21 with her Latin world music blend.

Ask anyone around town where they might catch a flamenco show, and you will be directed to El Farol. Though the restaurant and cantina features flamenco throughout the year, the special holiday flamenco dinner shows are on December 22, 23, 26, 27 and 31. All the dinner shows are priced at $25, and guests order off the dinner menu. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and the shows begin at 8 p.m. Just like Salazar promised, you can get home by 10:30 p.m. and be able to function the next day, all the while spoiling yourself with the best of local food and entertainment. Who said you can’t have the best of both worlds?

A particular holiday treat in Santa Fe is the farolito walk down Canyon Road on Christmas Eve. The little brown paper lanterns light the way through the maze of art galleries, with many putting out cider or warm cocoa for passersby. Of course, it gets a little cold, so why not warm up with dinner beforehand? El Farol’s Christmas Eve dinner has three different seating times: 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Make your reservation today to enjoy a special prefix meal and get out of the cold while still getting into the holiday spirit.

A week later is New Year’s Eve, and what better place to ring in the New Year than at Santa Fe’s premier night life establishment? With dinner at 6 p.m. and dancing and music beginning at 8:30 p.m., the revelry continues at the bar until countdown. Unlike the usual dinner shows, you won’t make it home by 10:30 p.m., but then again, Salazar does say El Farol let’s its hair down on the weekends, especially when it comes to New Year’s Eve.

Essentially, El Farol is a three-in-one establishment. You get the historic feel of dining in a 180-years-old building; you can enjoy tapas and other entrees made with the freshest of local ingredients; and you will find yourself singing and dancing the evening away to some of Santa Fe’s most talented local entertainment.

“When people come out to El Farol, they have an opportunity to enjoy a café society,” describes Salazar. “I remember a long time ago when people would go out they would dress up, eat, dance and listen to music. We’re not in an era of dressing up, especially out here in the west, but we do have good food and great entertainers, and we try to put it all together.” It is not only a place where you can find superb food and talented entertainers, but where you can also find the community essence of Santa Fe, as rich with local flavor as it was 180 years ago and counting. 

Life Styles Magazine