The Miracle of Chimayó: Tastes and Traditions
Whether you want to feed your body, your soul, or your appetite for history, charming Chimayó, 28 miles north of Santa Fe, offers the kind of nourishment you won't find anywhere else! The heart of this picturesque village is El Santuario de Chimayó, also known as the ‘Lourdes of America.' The crutches, photographs and offerings that pack the shrine walls are testimony to its legendary powers of miraculous healings. The first miracle was said to occur here more than 200 years ago when a light burst from the hillside and was found to be a crucifix in the earth. When the crucifix was taken away, it kept mysteriously returning to the same spot. Now, tens of thousands of pilgrims visit El Santuario each year, especially over Easter Week when pilgrims walk from as far afield as neighboring states.
The bell towers and stunning backdrop of this gem of an adobe chapel built in 1816 ensure that there is no such thing as a bad photo here! The chapel is as beautiful inside, with devotional retablo paintings and santos carvings. Take a scoop of the famous 'healing dirt' known for possessing remarkable curative powers then head to the shady outdoor chapel to sit in tranquility and enjoy the view.
The village of Chimayó was settled by the Spanish in the 17th century and many descendants still live there. The lively arts and crafts community draws on skills handed down among families for centuries. Chimayó weavings are especially notable: woven treasures range from wool rugs and blankets to pillows and handbags. Ortega’s Weaving Shop is an excellent example of the finest tradition of New Mexican weavers. Their legacy stretches back nearly 300 years and is still family-owned.
Chimayó is also praised for its red chile peppers, ground into powder to make a uniquely flavorful sauce: sweet, bold and rich but not too hot. Try it at Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante, the 2016 recipient of the James Beard Foundation America's Classic award. Traditional carne adovada is a favorite as are chile rellenos, blue corn enchiladas and puffy sopapillas. In fact, the restaurant claims to be the creators of the first stuffed sopaipillas. Wash it all down with refreshing prickly pear lemonade as you sit on the terraced patio, watching the hummingbirds.
For another taste of local culture, take scenic NM Road 503 between Santa Fe and Chimayó and stop in for wine tasting at Estrella Del Norte Vineyard. Or take a picnic, buy a bottle of wine from Estrella’s Tasting Room and relax in the sculpture garden surrounded by trailing vines and abundant rose bushes.
The Don Quixote Distillery and Winery tasting room in Pojoaque tingles the taste buds with hand-crafted spirits, wines, ports, and chocolates. Temptations include brandy fragrant with New Mexico orchard apples, and bourbon and vodka made with organic New Mexican blue corn. Citrus gin infused with juniper, piñon, sage, chamisa and rose hips is tanged up with lemons, limes and oranges. Mouthwatering yet?
Locals have enjoyed the home cooking at El Parasol since 1958, when the family business started with two young brothers setting a patio umbrella on Espanola's main street and running to cars selling their mom's tacos and tamales. The business has grown a bit since then, with locations including Espanola, Pojoaque and Santa Fe, and although the umbrella has gone, it inspired the El Parasol name.
At the other end of the scale, Terra restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado provides an excuse to dress up a little for sophisticated, contemporary American cuisine with a dash of New Mexico character.
Spoiled enough for choices already? Well, don't miss Gabriel's, with its colorful courtyard tables and fabulous fajitas. Order guacamole and see it freshly made tableside. Those guys stone, scoop and mash an avocado in double-quick time – it's like watching an art form! If you can't squeeze in a visit during your trip to Chimayó, Gabriel's is only 12 miles from Santa Fe on US Highway 285/84, so it's an easy outing for another day.
El Santuario de Chimayo: 15 Santuario Drive, Chimayo, NM 87522
Ortega's Weaving: 53 Plaza Del Cerro, Chimayo, NM 87522
Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante: 300 Juan Medina Rd, Chimayo, NM 87522
Estrella del Norte Vineyard: 106 N Shining Sun, Santa Fe, NM 87506
Don Quixote Distillery and Winery: 18057 US 84/285, Pojoaque, NM 87506
El Parasol North: NM-68, Ohkay Owingeh, NM 87566
Terra at Four Seasons: 198 State Rd 592, Santa Fe, NM 87506
Gabriel's Restaurant: Exit 176, Highway 285/84, Santa Fe NM, 87506
Explore Day Trips:
Native American Culture: Walking Ancient Paths - Step into the sacred legacy of ancestral Pueblo people by exploring the earliest cliff dwellings and ceremonial sites in Santa Fe County.
Outdoor Adventures: Escape the Trails - Santa Fe enjoys 325 days of sunshine a year, crystal clean air, stunning mountains, forest and high desert landscapes, and vistas that call people back time and time again.
Turquoise Trail: Legends and Landscapes - A drive along the Turquoise Trail isn't just a gorgeous day out, it's a journey back in time through the colorful histories of old Wild West mining towns.