In a funky wood house off Guadalupe Street, Aztec Café (317 Aztec St., 505/820-0025, 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., $5) pours java for Santa Fe’s tattooed and guitar-strumming youth. An impromptu acoustic serenade on the side porch doesn’t distract from the food, which is inexpensive and veggie friendly. Even coffee addicts should consider the Mexican hot chocolate. In winter, the place closes at 7 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Tiny Saveur (204 Montezuma St., 505/989-4200, 7:45 a.m.–4:45 p.m. Mon.–Fri., $7) is a cafeteria line where you’re just as likely to find duck confit with a port demiglace as a big slab of meat loaf—a good place to stock up for a picnic (though it’s closed on the weekends).
Make room in your morning for an almond croissant from Sage Bakehouse (535 Cerrillos Rd., 505/820-7243, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat., $4). Washed down with a mug of coffee, these butter-soaked pastries will have you set for hours. Before you leave, pick up some sandwiches for later—classic combos such as smoked turkey and cheddar on the bakery’s excellent crust. And maybe a pecan-raisin wreath. And a cookie too.
Inside the Design Center, Carlos’ Gosp’l Café (418 Cerrillos Rd., 505/983-1841, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $7) is packed at lunch, as locals make a run on the fat deli sandwiches, such as the Miles Standish (turkey with cranberry, cream cheese, and mayo), or hearty Hangover Stew, a veggie green-chile chowder.
El Tesoro (500 Montezuma Ave., 505/988-3886, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., $8), in the Sanbusco Center, is run by a family from El Salvador, so go for items such as banana-leaf-wrapped tamales. It’s also a great spot for breakfast, for dishes such as a heavy crock of black beans topped with an egg and (the optional New Mexican touch) green chile. There are also tasty chocolate croissants and other pastries—convenient if your group has different tastes.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition