Santa Fe may be the most popular gay destination in New Mexico!
Blue Rooster, a swanky and fun cocktail lounge and night club is scheduled to open in September 2014. The newest addition to Santa Fe’s night life is LGBT-owned and will occupy the two-story space that was formerly Rouge Cat (101 W. Marcy St, 505-206-2318). Club owners Doug Nava and Mark England, who are partners in life as well as business, say they want their night spot to “fill the void left by the closing of the Rouge Cat,” which was Santa Fe’s only remaining gay bar. However, they don’t want it to be considered ‘the gay bar’, but a place for everyone in Santa Fe to enjoy.
Also new to the Santa Fe scene is Skylight, a locally-owned restaurant and dance lounge. With a large and unique space, Skylight hosts a variety of events from concerts and performances to private parties and receptions. The nightly entertainment includes live music, DJ’s, theater, comedy, spoken word, and dance as well as special weekly events such as wine, beer, and liquor tastings. Skylight offers three full bars, happy hour, dinner, and a late night dining menu.
A relatively lesser-known downtown Santa Fe bar called The Matador (at the corner of San Francisco and Galisteo Sts.) also has something of a gay scene. It’s a tiny basement space with a funky, dive-y, un-touristy vibe, and the scene seems to be especially on the gay side on Friday nights. It’s just off the Plaza, close to many of Santa Fe’s top restaurants – you may be surprised, once you check out this dark little haunt, that downtown Santa Fe has a bar that’s so happily anti-precious.
In the trendy Railyard District, a friendly restaurant and bar called Junction (505-988-7222) has been a local favorite for years and has developed a considerable following in the gay and lesbian community. It’s a full-service restaurant until 10 pm, and the menu offers a creative American cuisine and a mix of cocktails, local brews and an eclectic wine list. In the evening, this friendly and attractive little lounge is also a social hangout and bar, drawing a variety of people with its live music. In warm weather, you can dine or hobnob on the charming patio.
A short walk from Junction you’ll find Santa Fe’s first branch of the Albuquerque-based, gay-friendly cafe, coffeehouse, and bar, Flying Star, which opened in the snazzy new Railyard District (at 500 Market Street).
Elsewhere in town, among the several mainstream bars you’ll find here, a few are especially charming and fun as well as being quite welcoming of gay visitors. Will you likely see other gay folks at any of these places? Maybe – maybe not. But you’re apt to have a good time, if all you’re looking for is a warm and inviting place for a cocktail. These establishments include El Farol, a historic Spanish tapas restaurant and live-music bar on art-gallery-lined Canyon Road; the Staab House, a swank lounge inside the snazzy La Posada de Santa Fe Resort; Secreto Bar (formerly the Artist’s Pub), a handsomely redesigned and renamed old-world bar and grill inside the venerable Hotel St. Francis; Vanessie Restaurant and Piano Bar, a gay-popular piano cabaret attached to a very good steakhouse; and the see-and-be-seen Dragon Room, a favorite gathering spot at the esteemed Pink Adobe Restaurant.
Other great bets include the rollicking Cowgirl (319 S. Guadalupe St., 505-982-2565), a rambling barbecue and New Mexican food restaurant and bar with live music most nights and a charming patio; and Harry’s Roadhouse (Old Las Vegas Hwy, 1 mi south of the Old Pecos Trail, 505-989-4629), a hugely popular locals’ hangout on the southeastern outskirts of town, where you’ll find outstanding and affordable food, super margaritas, and an eclectic, fun-loving crowd.