With all the art gallery-hopping, museum-going, and hiking to do during the day, Santa Fe can be an early-to-bed town. Since public transportation shuts down at 10:30 p.m., you might think the city's nightlife scene is nonexistent. Fear not: You'll find everything from craft beer taprooms to cocktail bars and Spanish-style flamenco tablaos in the City Different. Thanks to ride-hailing services and walkable districts, you don't even need to turn in early.
Santa Feans love a good cocktail, whether it’s a margarita or a Moscow mule. The state has a handful of craft distilleries, so the spirits in your cocktail may be homegrown.
- Coyote Cantina: A second-story bar above the more refined Coyote Café, Coyote Cantina offers a colorful atmosphere: Turquoise chairs, pink pillars, and similarly hued murals provide the background for cocktail sipping.
- Secreto Lounge: Set inside Hotel St. Francis, Secreto Lounge specializes in garden-to-glass cocktails featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, local spirits, and house-made bitters.
- Santa Fe Spirits Tasting Room: Founded by Englishman and whiskey aficionado Colin Keegan, Santa Fe Spirits captures the flavors of New Mexico in its distilling process, from local juniper in its gin to local apples in its brandy.
- Bar Alto: Perched on the rooftop of Drury Plaza Hotel Santa Fe, this bar lives up to its name. From this vantage, you can take in views of downtown Santa Fe as the sunset casts a reddish glow over the mountains. Its weekly menu of specials—including margarita Mondays and tequila Tuesdays—keeps things lively.
- Bell Tower Bar: Situated atop the historic hotel La Fonda on the Plaza, this fifth-story roost provides views over downtown Santa Fe and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The signature Bell Ringer margarita is hard to resist. Take note: The bar is open only seasonally during fine weather. Your best bet is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Beer Pubs and Taprooms
New Mexico’s craft brewery scene has been booming for more than a decade. With 85 breweries in the state and counting, New Mexico has the tenth highest number of breweries per capita in the U.S. A handful of noteworthy ones can be found in Santa Fe.
- Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery: Tumbleroot doubles up on cocktails and craft beers. It took home a coveted Great American Beer Festival medal in 2019 for its Double Brown Ale. It's also a live music venue, so you can listen to tunes over a pint.
- Rowley’s Farmhouse Ales: This brewpub surged to the front of the pack during the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, where it took home national awards for Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year.
- Santa Fe Brewing: New Mexico’s original craft brewery is also its largest. Three City Different taprooms, including the mothership on the Southside, serve suds.
- Second Street Brewing: Since 1996, this brewpub has been a top meetup spot after work or a day of hiking. It opened its third Santa Fe location in 2017, in the Rufina district close to Meow Wolf’s "The House of Eternal Return."
- Blue Corn Brewery: Opened in 1997 as one of the state’s first breweries, Blue Corn Brewery has become a leader once again thanks to a new head brewer. From the beginning, it has served beer alongside homey New Mexican food like green chile chicken enchiladas.
Santa Fe doesn’t have many nightclubs, but it does have several venues where cocktails come with a side of live music. There’s no need to dress up: Santa Fe is a casual town. In fact, jeans with a silver and turquoise belt buckle and a pair of cowboy boots can be the height of fashion.
- Meow Wolf: Immersive art attraction by day, music venue by night. Meow Wolf opens its installations to touring national acts and local musicians several nights a week. Cocktails (meowgarita, anyone?) and craft beer are on tap from the Float Café and Bar.
- Evangelo’s Cocktail Lounge: If you’re strolling near the plaza and hear raucous music flowing out the open door of a lounge, that’s likely Evangelo’s. The intimate bar has plenty of regulars, but they’ll slide over to make room for you.
- Herve Wine Bar: A relatively new addition to Santa Fe’s nightlife, Herve Wine Bar specializes in serving the wines of D.H. Lescombes (a New Mexico label). Set just off the Plaza down an alleyway, the airy wine bar offers live music several nights a week.
- Tonic: This downtown Santa Fe bar recalls the 1920s with classic cocktails and live jazz music several nights a week.
- El Farol: In business since 1835, El Farol is worth visiting for the history alone. In the past few years, however, new owners have given it a fresh coat of paint. The floors are still well worn: Dancers and musicians from the National Institute of Flamenco perform here several times a week. The bar picks up on that inspiration with tapas, paella, and Spanish wines. Reserve a spot for dinner and the show ahead of time.
- Cowgirl Santa Fe: With live music every night of the week, there’s always something happening at the Cowgirl. National acts and local musicians of every genre—from rock to bluegrass—stop here. If you’re staying for dinner, the portions are large and the cocktails strong.
- Vanessie’s: Guests of Vanessie’s hotel can step out of their guest rooms and into the restaurant, which doubles as a piano bar.
- Julia’s Social Club: Named after Julia Staab, a Santa Fe socialite in the 1880s, this social club offers a living-room type environment—which is fitting, considering the fact it’s in the Staabs' former home, now part of La Posada. Julia loved her home so much, she never left. And why would her ghost find new digs? Now there are tapas and wines from Spain, Portugal, and South America on hand. Santa Fe guitarist Nacha Mendez serenades here on Fridays.
Tips for Going Out in Santa Fe
- The Santa Fe Trails Bus System only runs until 10:30 p.m. However, there are taxis and ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber available.
- Happy hour—an opportunity to get cocktails and appetizers at a discount—usually runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- The “last call” for beverages is at 1:30 a.m. However, Santa Fe bars are known to shut down earlier if there aren’t many customers.
- Cover charges will vary depending on whether live entertainment is offered. Most bars do not have cover charges.
- Santa Fe follows the rest of the U.S. in regard to tipping policies. Tipping is expected for all bar services; 20 percent is standard.
- Santa Fe doesn’t allow drinking alcohol or open containers in unlicensed places, which is pretty much anywhere outside a gated beer garden or bar patio.