Wine and Chile Festival


When Wendy started Two Casitas, she was simply renting her guest house to travellers in order to supplement her income. Our home had two small guest houses, and the property provided a perfect opportunity for doing just that. Eventually, the opportunity to manage more homes meant that Wendy was able to turn Two Casitas into a full-scale business, and she began the process of becoming an expert at filling the new homes. Wendy knew that she loved Santa Fe, but she also had to learn what attracted all sorts of people to visit. She found that, while Santa Fe has a wide variety of cultural, historical and wildlife activities that bring people to our city, there is one common thread that makes Santa Fe an exciting destination for almost anyone: Food! Santa Fe’s unique cuisine remains difficult to replicate, and it embodies so much of what is special about our town. History, culture, agriculture and economics created the unique blend of flavors that can only be found in The Land Of Enchantment. Because of this, it is no surprise that many events and festivals in Santa Fe revolve around our local food in an attempt to attract even more attention to Santa Fe’s culinary prowess. One of the most notable examples of this is our annual Wine and Chile Festival, which celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in 2015. This year, it will occur from September 21st to September 25th. Make sure to book your dates with Two Casitas soon, as we get filled up for this time of year very quickly!


The Wine and Chile Fiesta is an absolute must for anyone interested in food, and it is widely regarded by even the most discerning foodies. During the festival, local restaurants provide you with the absolute best that they have to offer, you can taste the best wines from over ninety wineries around the country, enticing cooking demonstrations and educational seminars are abundant. Santa Fe’s restaurants also participate by hosting wine dinners during the festival that are sure to be a hit with people who love pairing wine with different foods. The festival culminates at the Santa Fe Opera where those ninety wineries and seventy-five of Santa Fe’s best restaurants convene to host one of the highest qualities and most varied sampling of foods that you will ever experience. This level of immersion in food and wine can seem overwhelming, but we can guarantee that you will be hard pressed to experience a higher concentration of quality food and drink. It will almost convince you to move to Santa Fe!


Santa Fe’s passion for its own culture may come off as a little bit self-indulgent at times, however if you visit this festival, you will understand why people love to live here. Long after you learn everything you can about Santa Fe’s history, culture and wildlife, our town’s food will keep you enticed and entertained for as long as you live here. I’ve been eating this food for my whole life, and not a single day goes by where I don’t crave green chile or a specialty New Mexico dish. That is why I find this festival, and others that Santa Fe has to offer, a crucial activity for anyone who wants to experience what our town truly has to offer. There is a reason that our rooms book so far in advance for this festival, and we hope you’ll be among our guests this year! Come experience the best that Santa Fe has to offer!



By Two Casitas

Wine in Santa Fe


When we opened Two Casitas, the Vacation Rental industry was almost non-existent in Santa Fe. In order to truly set ourselves apart from the already established hotel industry. We realized that visitors to Santa Fe were looking for an authentic and non-generic travel experience. Santa Fe is special because of the unique feeling that arose from the preservation of its history, and that feeling can be immensely dulled by a standard hotel experience. We wanted our guests to feel like they were locals, and that they belonged in our city. Our selection of homes was essential to this goal, along with our choices of furnishings and decorations. We took a further step to welcome our guests by providing a free bottle of wine with every stay. While New Mexico isn’t particularly famous for its wine, it is actually a fairly substantial industry, and represents an important part of local culture. It is extremely important to us that our guests feel welcome, so we consider this to be a unique staple of our business, and an important reason that our guests want to return to Two Casitas. Because our business philosophy is intertwined with the wine that we provide, we have partnered with New Mexico Wine Tours in an effort to showcase one of New Mexico’s lesser-known, yet important cultural features. In this blog, we’re also going to feature some recommendations for getting great wine in Santa Fe. No matter how much wine factors into your trip, know that your free bottle will always be there when you book with us.


New Mexico Wine Tours appreciates New Mexico’s scenery, and knows that any tour of our state would be foolish to not take advantage of its beauty. That is why there is an emphasis on scenery when exploring New Mexico’s wine industry. Though New Mexico isn’t widely known as a wine producing state, it is actually the oldest wine producing state in the country. The tours are extremely flexible and often contain visitors and locals alike. They are offered 7 days a week, and to any custom-sized party. Go solo, bring a friend, a group of friends, or your family whenever you please! In order to give their customers a more expansive experience, they also offer a half day of rafting or a cooking class followed by the standard wine tour. Whether you are celebrating a birthday, bachelorette/bachelor party, reunion, anniversary, first date, retirement or girl’s/guy’s day out, they really do offer something for everyone. They also will coordinate transportation to all your favorite events, festivals, night out on the town & airport transportation. Packages start at $99, so you won’t have to break the bank to go on one of these awesome adventures! MAKE SURE to check them out at


For true wine enthusiasts, we also want to mention a few of Santa Fe’s best wine spots. Even though they are our competition, we cannot recommend the wine list at the Four Seasons highly enough! This luxury resort offers some of the most high-end wine offerings that Santa Fe can provide. Check them out at


Another fantastic wine list is to be found at Restaurant 315 Located within walking distance to The Plaza, and to most of our casitas, this restaurant has been home to Chef Louis Moskow’s wonderful cooking and one of Santa Fe’s most famous wine lists for years. This place is a must visit for those coming to Santa Fe for a fine dining experience


Some of you may be wondering if I am going to mention Santa Fe’s famous Wine and Chile festival, but that is a topic all its own, and will definitely be covered in next week’s blog! Until then, we hope this got you excited for your trip, and we’ll see you in Santa Fe!

By Two Casitas

Canyon Road

1Most people who come to Santa Fe for the first time rightfully spend their time at the Santa Fe Plaza. However, Santa Fe has another major cultural attraction that adds a separate and unique element to Santa Fe’s experience. Canyon Road is one of the most concentrated centers of art galleries in the country, and there are very few places in the world where you will find such an abundance of quality art, dining, history, and charm as you will encounter at Canyon Rd. It is located on the East side of town, in the foothills of the Sangre De Christo Mountains, which is arguable a work of scenic art regardless of human intervention. There is no part of town that could be more suited to housing an arts district. Walking down Canyon Road is a truly immersive experience where you will find bountiful and varied art, some of Santa Fe’s finest restaurants, and a one-of-a-kind cultural experience that will add a deeper level of appreciation for anyone who visits our fine town.


Canyon Road features over one hundred galleries with content ranging from Native American art and antiquities, traditional and modern Hispanic art, regional contemporary art, international folk art and international contemporary art and more. It is truly amazing that this kind of variety is collected on this small stretch of road that only takes twenty minutes to walk down.


Canyon Road wasn’t always Santa Fe’s arts district. It began as a residential area where people built homes in Pueblo Revival style. They used authentic adobe construction methods, and rooms were added on and expanded upon as needed as opposed to building the entire structure simultaneously. Many of the galleries that exist here today are built inside of these same old homes. This authentic, rustic quality is what drew many artists to this already picturesque part of town as a source of inspiration. They began to live on Canyon Road, and eventually began selling their work from their homes. This grew organically into a collective of art galleries and studios that were owned and managed by artists. Much of that tradition survives to this day. Eventually, Canyon Road blossomed into the tourist mecca that it is today.



If you are in Santa Fe during Christmas Eve, we cannot recommend attending Canyon Road’s farolito walk enough! This tradition began many years ago, and has become a staple of Santa Fe’s holiday culture. Farolitos (Spanish for paper lantern) are small candles placed at the bottom of paper bags filled with sand, and they are put out in droves along the road and the buildings. They adorn the entire town with a warm glow that can only be found in Santa Fe! On Canyon Road, Christmas Carols are sung, bonfires are lit, and christmas decorations light up every home and gallery as far as the eye can see. It’s a magnificent and celebratory spectacle that makes Christmas Eve feel more like a special event than just about anywhere else in the country! Anyone is welcome to join the festivities at no cost, and we hope that you take advantage of that wonderful opportunity.


On a personal note, Wendy’s (Owner of Two Casitas) mother has owned and operated Waxlander gallery on Canyon Road for well over thirty years, and we always refer our guests to her gallery for their art shopping needs.

Check out the video she did for PBS:

We also strongly suggest that you check out this complete list of establishments on Canyon Road so that you can better plan out your trip! Whether you are buying art, jewelry, or simply eating out, make sure you know where you want to go!



Abbate Fine Art

Acosta Strong Fine Art

Adobe Gallery

Alexandra Stevens Fine Art

Art of Russia Gallery

Barbara Meikle Fine Art

Bellas Artes Gallery

Bill Hester Fine Art

Bill Hester Fine Art

Brad Smith Gallery

Canyon Road Contemporary Art

Carole LaRoche Gallery

Catenary Art Gallery

Chalk Farm Gallery

Charles Azbell Gallery

Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art

Dark Bird Studio

Elysee Fine Art & Jewelry

Ernesto Mayans Gallery

Fine Judaic Art by Sara M. Novenson

Frank Howell Gallery

Gallery 822

Gallery 901

Gaugy Gallery

Gebert Contemporary

GF Contemporary

Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art

Greenberg Fine Art

GVG Contemporary

Hunter Kirkland Gallery

InArt Santa Fe Gallery

Janine Contemporary

Karan Ruhlen Gallery

La Mesa of Santa Fe

Last Gallery on the Right

Manitou Galleries

Marigold Arts

Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery

Dancing Ladies de Santa Fe

Desert Son of Santa Fe

Elysee Fine Art & Jewelry

Glenys & Felice

Jacqueline’s Place

Jewel Mark

Karen Melfi Collection

Leslie Flynt


Nathalie & Nathalie Home

Santa Kilim

Shangri-La at Project Tibet

Silver Sun

Tresa Vorenberg Goldsmiths

Café des Artistes

Caffe Greco

Compound Restaurant

El Farol

Geronimo Restaurant

The Tea House

Mark White Fine Art

Matthews Gallery

McLarry Fine Art

McLarry Modern

Meyer East Gallery

Meyer Gallery

Michael Henington Fine Art Gallery

Michael Smith Gallery

Morning Star Gallery


Nathalie & Nathalie Home

Nordwall Gallery and Studio

Nüart Gallery


Patricia Carlisle Fine Art

Pippin Contemporary

Reflection Gallery

Ronnie Layden Fine Art

Roybal – Fine Art SF

S. R. Brennen Gallery

Sage Creek Gallery

Scarlett’s Antique Shop & Gallery

Selby Fleetwood Gallery

Studio Vaillancourt

Tansey Contemporary

Teresa Neptune Studio/Gallery

The Hollander Gallery

The Longworth Gallery

The William and Joseph Gallery

Tom Ross Gallery

Turner Carroll Gallery

Ventana Fine Art

Vivo Contemporary

Waxlander Gallery

Wiford Gallery

Winterowd Fine Art

Zaplin Lampert Gallery

By Two Casitas


Taos_Pueblo2 Santa Fe has been our home for quite some time. Wendy has been here for over forty years, and, and I have lived here my whole life. Because of this, we have a tight bond with our home city. However, this doesn’t stop us from enjoying the rest of the state. In fact, Santa Fe is a perfect home base to explore the rest of New Mexico’s wonders. Particularly for repeat visitors, we love to encourage that you branch out from the city to see what else New Mexico has to offer. The first place that we love to recommend is Taos. Taos is an hour and a half North of Santa Fe, and can make for a great day trip, or to stay for a few nights. Its rich history is beautifully preserved because of its small size and remote location. Like Santa Fe, it provides an entirely unique experience that will give you the feeling that you have been transported to a different time and place that is totally separate from the rest of the the world.


The original Taos Pueblo is ranked among the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, and The Grand Canyon as one of the world’s most significant historical landmarks. It is the northernmost pueblo in New Mexico, and it has been inhabited for over one-thousand years. Though it is impossible to know for certain, it is very likely that the Taos Pueblo is the oldest consistently inhabited area in all of North America. Visiting the area makes this fact obvious, as no one would ever want to leave a place with such grand natural beauty!

Taos Pueblo tourism destinations

  As is the case with almost every settlement in the Southwest, Taos has been the site of many conflicts between various native cultures and Spanish conquistadors. Early Spanish settlers were welcomed, however due to conflicts over belief and resources, tensions began to rise. Several small revolts preceded the larger Pueblo Revolt in 1680, and even after the wider conflict had come to a close, many of Taos’ native inhabitants continued to offer resistance to Spanish settlers. In the 1770’s Comanches began to raid Taos, and they maintained a strong presence there until the end of that decade when the governor of New Mexico at the time forced them out.


After Taos was established as a territory of the United States, it became a popular destination for many artists. Around the turn of the century, painters became attracted to the lore of the Native American culture and made many attempts at documenting and preserving it. Many of these original artist’s studios are preserved to this day, and they are a must-see for any art fan who is exploring Taos. There are also quite a few museums that showcase Taos’ rich artistic history. Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum, Millicent Rogers Museum, also showcase much of the native artwork from Native Americans who have inhabited Taos. Taos also offers quite a few performing arts centers. The Taos Center for the Arts is a fantastic venue for all kinds of performances and is a truly unique setting for a concert. The Harwood Museum of Art also hosts many performances and lectures.


My personal favorite aspect of Taos is its natural beauty, and there is no shortage of activities that will allow you to take in this splendor. Rafting on the Rio Grande, hiking, llama trekking mountain biking, skiing, and fishing are among the abundant activities that you can partake in during a visit to Taos. This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in one of the world’s true natural treasures. Taos is natural New Mexico at its best, and there is simply no better way to lose yourself in the natural world.

By Two Casitas

Georgia O’Keeffe


New Mexico is a never-ending source of inspiration for visual artists. Crossing the border into our state makes you feel as if you’ve been transported into a land that was perfectly crafted for the sole purpose of being painted. The sprawling mountains, jagged rock formations, and epic and varied clouds provide a non-stop visual experience that begs to be laid onto canvas. Upon closer inspection, the wildlife is similarly inspiring. Much of our state’s culture is attractive to storytellers, and these stories can also be interpreted through a painter’s brush-strokes. So naturally, New Mexico has been home to many famous visual artists throughout the years. However, there is one woman that stands out because of her expansive and innovative work spanning over fifty years. After a good amount of time spent in New York and Hawaii, she discovered New Mexico and made it her home for the rest of her long career.  Her work illustrated natural beauty in all of its forms, and from many perspectives, and is a wonderful reflection of our state’s natural beauty. After her death, she has a secure place as an icon in New Mexico. People come from far and wide to see her work so that they can see our great state through her eyes. There could never be a more noble artistic poster child  for New Mexico than Georgia O’Keeffe.

Purple-Hills-Ghost-Ranch-1934 red-hills-and-white-flower-ii

Georgie O’keeffe’s work flowed well before 1929, during which she lived in New York and Hawaii. However, during that year, she found herself in need of a new living situation, and new sources of inspiration. While she had considered a trip to Europe or simple seclusion in upstate New York, she decided to travel to Santa Fe and explore the surrounding wilderness. She went on many backpacking excursions around Santa Fe and Taos. It was here that she found the endless inspiration that she was hungry for. Because of her increasing popularity, she often found herself overworked, and she suffered a nervous breakdown in 1932. After a period of hospitalization, she found that she had an increasing need for the solitude that New Mexico offered. In 1934, she visited Ghost Ranch, and decided to make it her permanent home. It was in that ranch, North of Abiquiu, that she found an environment where she could be truly comfortable and would have no problem finding gorgeous natural wonders to paint. By the times the 1940’s rolled around, her work was reaching a wide audience and had received many awards and accolades. She was celebrated not only as a painter, but as a role model for aspiring female artists. After the death of her husband and long-time photographer (who had a large role in giving O’Keefe the exposure she needed), she decided to move to New Mexico permanently. She settled in Ghost Ranch in 1949. She remained consistently productive until the early 1970’s when she lost most of her vision due to macular degeneration. Even after this handicap had destroyed all but her peripheral vision, she managed to still work in charcoal and pottery. Her final years were spent in Santa Fe, and she eventually died at the age of 98.




In 1997, the Georgia O’Keeffe museum was erected in downtown Santa Fe. The building stands as a monument to her life’s work, and to the modernist art that she inspired. The museum holds over 1,000 of O’Keeffe’s works, and is therefore the largest depository of her paintings in the world. To this day, this museum and Ghost Ranch draw crowds of art and nature lovers to New Mexico. Her love of our state rings true to this day, and will continue to represent what we all love about it through the ages. We are eternally grateful to have such an important artist linked with our state.


By Two Casitas

Ski Santa Fe


Santa Fe is most busy in the summer and fall, and rightly so. Attractive weather, beautiful vistas, Indian Market, the Folk Art Festival, Zozobra, and a myriad of other festivals and attractions make summer a fabulous time to visit. It is also an ideal time to hike in the gorgeous mountains around town. However, there is another half of the year that is just as treasured, and it keeps people coming to Santa Fe throughout the entire year. A visit to Ski Santa Fe is one more fantastic opportunity that Santa Fe has to offer.


It is quite difficult to beat the beauty of the Mountains to the East of Santa Fe. Driving among the aspen trees while the leaves are changing colors is an incredible experience that everyone should see in their lifetime. However if you come to the same spot just a few months later, a whole new scene can be seen. Winter is a very transformative time in Santa Fe, and the drive up to the ski basin while it is snowing is pretty fantastic.


Of course, the skiing/snowboarding is the destination after the beautiful drive (However, make sure to be cautious on the drive, as the roads are small and icy). Ski Santa fe offers a variety of slopes of every difficulty and length. There are four lifts that go to distinct areas of the mountain, and each of them have different things to offer. The closer you are to the bottom of the mountain, the easier the hill will be. As you approach the top, you will encounter more difficult runs with moguls and steep inclines. Each run is labeled green, blue, black, double black, or triple black depending on its difficulty, so you can know the difficulty of the slope before you go down. For the inexperienced, Ski Santa Fe offers skiing and snowboarding classes, so you can learn to become more adventurous on the mountain. Whether you are coming to Santa Fe for a short period of time or if you intend to keep coming back there are options for you as you can get one-time tickets or season passes. If you’re not interested in winter sports, the lifts are often open in the fall so you can still go to the top of the mountain and check out the view of all of Santa Fe.


This mountain has always been the backdrop to Santa Fe, but it is a world all its own that anyone who is interested in having a visceral experience in nature can access with just a short drive. It is another activity that shows the true diversity that a trip to Santa Fe can offer you at any time of the year.


By Two Casitas

Bandelier National Monument


Another result of New Mexico’s hidden volcanic past, the Pajarito Plateau was formed 1.6 and 1.4 million years ago by two eruptions of the Valles Caldera. The plateau is home to New Mexico’s most famous national monument: Bandelier National Monument. If you are coming to Santa Fe and are hoping to take an unforgettable day trip, this place should be first on your list. Bandelier is one of the most naturally diverse and historically rich places to visit in New Mexico. Banelier’s elevation ranges from just above five thousand feet to just over ten thousand, resulting in a fantastic diversity of ecosystems that can be explored in a relatively small area. The volcanic geology of the plateau and proximity for the river created a perfect home for the Ancestral Pueblo People, and when you take your day trip in New Mexico, you will be able to walk amid their ruins. Bandelier’s eiversity lends itself to many different animal species as well. Mule deer, Abert’s squirrels, lizards, Tarantulas and a number of bird species are common sightings. It is extremely important to note that these animals call Bandelier home, and that many of them will retaliate if they feel threatened. Taking pictures is usually fine, but distance and discretion are advised when interacting with the wildlife.


First, a little history: over ten-thousand years ago, many nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures inhabited New Mexico, and they would often follow migrating game throughout the state.  Paleoindians used the famous Clovis points (you can probably find one if you look hard enough) to hunt many large mammal species. The now extinct bison and mammoth species were the primary source of sustenance for these people. However, around three-thousand years ago, Ancestral Pueblo people began to build semi-permanent settlements due to the fact that they became so good at hunting, that many of these food sources were completely depleted. These first Archaic peoples were significantly less nomadic than the Paleoindians, however they did still gather and hunt in relation to the changing seasons and availability of vegetation and game. While pottery would not come along for quite some time, they became excellent basket weavers, and used their baskets to store the food they had collected. They continued to settle, and eventually began to carve their homes into the volcanic rock that the Plateau is comprised of. These settlements can still be visited today, which is a testament to the longevity of these simple structures.


With the increase in permanent structures came farming. Corn, beans and squash were the primary crops for the Ancestral Pueblo People, though they still continued to feed off of naturally occurring vegetation. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels were still hunted, but turkeys were domesticated. Dogs were also domesticated to aid with hunting and to provide companionship. This lifestyle remained more or less the same until the mid-1500’s when the Ancestral Pueblo people moved closer to the Rio Grande due to its natural advantages for farming and sustenance. The plateau could not sustain the growing population, and an extreme drought was the final straw.

Photo Of Ladder At Cliff Dwellings At Bandelier National Monument

President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to turn Bandelier into a national monument. As part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, many workers build roads into the monument, a visitor center, a lodge, and miles of trails that would aid in exploration of these ancient lands. These structures are all still in heavy usage. During World War II, the entire park was closed in order to house the people who worked on building the first atomic bomb.


Visiting Bandelier truly allows you to walk through this history. You can go right into the caves that the Ancestral Pueblo people called home and see the artwork that they painted on the wall over a thousand years ago. You can walk in the same foot trails that they left after thousands of journeys along the same path. You can see the same wildlife that they depended on for so long, and it’s not a stretch of the imagination to truly understand their lifestyle. It was barren, yet beautiful, and it typifies ancient New Mexican culture like few other places can. My favorite thing about all of New Mexico is that it seems to be very much like a time machine. Depending on where you are, you can feel like you’re living like people did long ago, and Bandelier is perhaps the best example of this.




By Two Casitas

Green Chile!


As a local Santa Fean, green chile has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To be perfectly honest, however, I cannot say that I have been eating it for any great length of time. I remember driving past the Albertsons and smelling the chile roasting every fall, and to this day, that aroma takes me right back to that life. I think I was always enchanted by that smell, however when it came to eating the stuff, I could not be convinced! Until I reached the age of fifteen or so, there was literally nothing that could convince me to eat anything remotely spicy, much less something that looked kind of green and slimy. Luckily for me, the temporary insanity known as “being a child” eventually wore off and I had my first green chile burger at The Santa Fe Baking Company. I can firmly say that I will never be able to enjoy a burger without green chile in quite the same way as I did before. The taste will always remind me of home, and it is just another small thing that makes New Mexico the special place that it is.


Now for people not familiar with green chile, there might be a bit of confusion. I often find explanations of my addiction to this food met with “Oh yeah! I love Chili with beans and beef etc…” I have to stop and restart the conversation by explaining that this is an entirely different ball-game, and that food prepared with green chile is not only a unique tasting food, but it has come to be an important part of our identity as New Mexicans.


We get our chile from the southwestern region of New Mexico, and the chile that is grown there is unlike any other crop in the country. There are several types of green chile that can be found in other places that are similar, but none can match the taste of that grown in Hatch, NM. Hidalgo, Luna, and Dona Ana counties are also large producers, but usually all chile that comes from this region is branded as “Hatch” green chile. Just to clarify, I am referring to the pepper as “Green Chile,” but at different levels of ripeness, it can become red chile which has a slightly different flavor. When visiting Santa Fe (at a Two Casitas vacation rental, of course), you will often be asked at various restaurants whether you you’d like “Red or Green.” This refers to the type of chile you’d like your dish to be prepared with. If you want both, say “Christmas.”


Hatch’s chile has a unique and interesting history. It is, in fact, not a native crop to New Mexico, and it originates from a college laboratory in Colorado. In the early 20th Dr. Fabian Garcia was attempting to procure the ultimate chile pepper by combining the Colorado, Negro, and Pasilla. He was attempting to hybridize these species of pepper in order to create a milder, hardier, and more flavorful pepper than had ever existed. After this painstaking process was completed, farmers in southern New Mexico began requesting its seeds and began growing it using the Rio Grande river as irrigation. The resulting pepper is high in fiber, and vitamins A, B and C. It also has been shown to stimulate weight loss in a similar way to green tea.


So now that you’re a bonafide Green Chile expert, you probably would like to know where to acquire some. I’ll give you some of my personal recommendations: Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bob Cate Bite) is famous for its green chile hamburgers, and for good reason. It’s said that their grill is finely tuned to make the perfect hamburger. The Shed has a more diverse menu that is full of foods that typify New Mexican cuisine. They are famous for having the spiciest chile in town! The Plaza Café has a fantastic smattering of New Mexican foods along with greek cuisine if you’re traveling with someone who doesn’t love the strictly local offerings. The Pantry is the ultimate place to get New Mexican breakfast and lunch. It remains somewhat of a local’s secret, and visiting it will guarantee you a plate-full of fabulous New Mexican comfort food.

By Two Casitas

Valles Caldera

2-Valles Caldera morning

The Valles Caldera is one of New Mexico’s most beautiful landmarks. Located about two and a half hours Northwest of Santa Fe (just east of Los Alamos), its quiet and peaceful vistas exude an overwhelming sense of tranquility and natural splendor. It is nestled into the Santa Fe National Forest, and because it is a national preserve, it remains largely untouched by the structures of man. It is certainly possible to visit The Caldera to simply appreciate its aesthetic beauty, however if you dig deeper, it is possible to achieve a deeper appreciation of the temporary nature of this beauty. You can also realize that without The Caldera, New Mexico as we know it would be completely different. Because of all of these reasons, it is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in the state. Its aesthetic qualities are only matched by its deep history and fascinating geological implications.


First things first: what is a caldera? The answer may surprise those who don’t already know! Calderas often appear to be lush and peaceful valleys, but in fact, they are the craters of the largest super-volcanoes on The Earth. Most of the planet’s volcanoes are located in the infamous “ring of fire” that circumscribes The Pacific Ocean. These volcanoes are caused by oceanic continental plates subducting underneath the lighter continents that make up the world’s landmasses. This friction heats up the rock until it melts and is forced to rise to the surface. Calderas, or super volcanoes, have a different and much more mysterious origin. They form when “hot spots” form in The Earth’s mantle bleed through to the surface. No one is absolutely certain as to why these hot spots exist or how they form, however we do know that they are incredibly massive, and that they contain slow moving and viscous magma that has the capacity for incredible levels of pressure, and therefore incredibly explosive properties. Luckily for us, these volcanoes explode extremely rarely. The last large erruption occured approximately 1.15 million years ago, and a smaller one occured about 50,000 years ago.


As you may have gathered, a geological feature of this magnitude is capable of shaping and dominating a landscape. Valles Caldera’s eruptions are responsible for the Sangre De Cristo mountains, and the hot spot underneath is the source of many of New Mexico’s famous hot springs. Obsidian arrowheads found throughout the area are made of a volcanic glass that can only be formed with the extreme pressure and heat caused by a volcanic eruption. Porous rocks can be found everywhere you go in New Mexico and all of them are the result of the Caldera. Boulders the size of cars were flung from The Caldera as far as Kansas, so its effect on the landscape cannot be understated. All of this may seem rather terrifying and intimidating, but I promise that it is still worth it to visit The Valles Caldera! Immersing yourself within an area of such fantastic geological power is an important and humbling experience, and it can provided you with a wonderful appreciation of New Mexico’s natural splendor.


The Caldera is also well-recognized as a place of more short-term historical importance. It was a famous hunting ground for the Navajo tribe, and the obsidian arrowheads that they famously used have been collected and traded by almost every other group that has come through the area since. Unfortunately, when New Mexico officially became American property, The Caldera served as a battlefield in The Indian Wars and many incoming Americans began to log the forest and raise livestock in the Calderas fertile ground. The Caldera was famously owned by The Baca family throughout the late 19th Century and and early 20th. They were given the plot of land by the U.S. Government, and its ownership exchanged hands several times until the turn of the millenium. In the year 2000, Bill Clinton signed a bill that officially designated the area a natural preserve. Because of this effort, the Caldera cannot be privately owned, and its natural state is generally maintained by the U.S. government. It is also open for public access so anybody can come and appreciate it. Luckily, human traffic is kept to a minimum, so if you chose to visit The Caldera, you can fully immerse yourself in its beauty without having to worry about other people getting in the way. If you come to New Mexico, and are interested in a profoundly educational experience that is not often advertised, The Caldera is the place to go!

By Two Casitas

Santa Fe’s Five and Dime/Woolworth’s

​A​ town’s general department store was often the only one-stop shopping destination for ​its residents, and because of that fact, its character helps define the character of the entire city. Santa Fe’s Five and Dime (Previously Woolsworth’s) is no exception. Located on the southwest corner of Santa Fe’s Plaza, its central location provided it with heavy local traffic, and secured its place as a staple of Santa Fe’s culture and mythology. Santa Fe boasts a unique version of “Americana.” From the stereotypical imagery of cowboys and Indians (and Spaniards), to the breathtaking vistas, landscapes, and sunsets that make Santa Fe so special, our town has contributed much to our country’s historical image, and our Five and Dime is a critical piece to that cultural jigsaw.





Perhaps the thing that makes our Five and Dime most special and memorable is that, according to local legend, it was the birthplace of The Frito Pie. Teresa Hernandez worked at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in the early 1960’s, and she likely did what most great inventors/innovators do: combined two great things. A staple of Santa Fe’s cuisine is its chile, and Woolworth’s served it liberally. Certainly, Woolworth’s also sold single-serve bags of Fritos, and Hernandez had the brilliant idea of simply combining the two products. Adding cheese and other toppings was a natural next step, and suddenly a truly unique product came into existence. Almost immediately, people were lining up to try the Frito Pie, and more than 50 years later, the lines have not died down. If you’re going to have fast food in Santa Fe, this is the way to do it. Simple, down to earth, and uniquely Santa Fe!


Check out this recipe from


Woolworth’s also has a personal connection to Two Casitas’ owner, Wendy Kapp. As a child, her mother Phyllis Kapp ​(who is now a very successful local artist and owner of Waxlander Gallery on Canyon Rd.) was inspired by New Mexico’s landscape and sweeping sunsets​ and took ​her husband and four kids on several trips through The Southwest.  Her love of the landscape have inspired her for the twenty seven years that she has had her gallery on Canyon Road. ​In fact some of our vacation rentals are graced with her magnificent work.​ She and her family often stayed at the La Fonda hotel on The Plaza, and would take day trips throughout the state. These trips imprinted themselves into Wendy’s identity as well, and she fell in love with Santa Fe for the rest of her life! One of her strongest memories was waking up and getting her first corn necklace at Woolworth’s, and getting a Frito Pie! She tells me the story almost every time that we pass Five and Dime, and the affection for the shop is palpable. Wendy’s mother who  first turned Wendy on to the five and dime


While the store used to almost take up the entire block, it is now​ much​ smaller. It ​was purchased by Gerald Peters who bought much of Santa Fe’s downtown property. In fact, he is the largest owner of real estate in downtown Santa Fe. This change was shocking for the locals who had been going for so many years, and who had sat on the bar-stools in the back of the store with friends and family to enjoy a home-made soda in days gone by. there was actually a protest held by the residents of Santa Fe, as they felt they were losing the Plaza as their meeting place to the growing tourist industry. The outcry didn’t save the original Woolworth’s completely, as much of it was converted into a shopping mall, however Mr. Peters was convinced enough to preserve a section of it complete with the lunch counter in the back. ​Wendy, your hostess and owner of  Two Casitas, almost cried when she saw the final transition, however the spirit of the store is still preserved in the Five and Dime. The instant you walk in the front door, you will immediately feel whisked away to an earlier time. The store is littered with uniquely “Santa Fe” artifacts that range from bandanas, kokopeli warriors, musical instruments, Santa Fe licence plates, and of course, frito pies and corn necklaces that Wendy fell in love with as a child (though they are now five dollars instead of fifty cents!). While it is simply a small department store that sells keepsakes and snacks, it represents what is special about Santa Fe. It is a distinctive twist on classic Americana, and it has been fairly well preserved throughout time. It is a landmark of the beautiful simplicity and cultural potency of the past, and that is exactly why Santa Fe is visited by millions of people every year.

By Two Casitas