There’s no shortage of Santa Fe open-air bars taking advantage of New Mexico’s weather. Here are the best of the lot.

Bell Tower Bar

Get to the Bell Tower Bar (100 E. San Francisco St., 505/982-5511, 11am-sunset Apr.-Oct.) early if you can, as this spot on the rooftop at La Fonda fills up fast. It’s usually packed with tourists, but the view—from the fifth floor, the highest in the center of town—is inspiring.

The Belltower at night. Photo © Ryan Heffernan, courtesy of La Fonda.

The Belltower at night. Photo © Ryan Heffernan, courtesy of La Fonda.

Thunderbird

If there’s no room at Bell Tower, the next best spot is Thunderbird (50 Lincoln Ave., 505/490-6550, 11:30am-midnight daily), which has a second-floor porch with views onto the plaza. At happy hour, margaritas are $5; it starts early (4pm-6pm), but kicks in again after 10pm.

Taberna La Boca

Hidden away inside a block near the plaza, Taberna La Boca (125 Lincoln Ave., 505/988-7102, 11:30am-2pm and 5pm-11pm daily) has a nice patio with a chummy scene starting at happy hour (5pm-7pm). At that time, wine or sherry can be had from $3 a glass, and traditional tapas start at $2.

El Farol

Over on Canyon Road, El Farol (808 Canyon Rd., 505/983-9912, 11am-11pm Sun.-Thurs., 11am-midnight Fri.-Sat.) is a perennial favorite. A bar since 1835, it’s the gallery owners’ clubhouse, and exuberant dancing occasionally breaks out on the tiny dance floor. There’s a long front deck, and a nice back patio too. Happy hour is 3pm-6pm.

The Mary Hatch is El Farol's most famous cocktail. Photo courtesy of El Farol.

The Mary Hatch is El Farol’s most famous cocktail. Photo courtesy of El Farol.

Cowgirl BBQ

The mellow patio scene at Cowgirl BBQ (319 S. Guadalupe St., 505/982-2565, 11:30am-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 11am-1am Fri.-Sat., 11am-11:30pm Sun.) gets started early, with happy hour kicking off at 3pm and lasting till 6pm, with two-for-one apps and $4 margaritas. It’s good later, too, with live music many nights.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Southwest Road Trip.