Friday, July 30, 2021

A Santa Fe Cafe

There is a tiny cafe on the square in the heart of old Santa Fe. Perhaps you know of it: The French Pastry Shop & Creperie. It has an authentic French menu, and is housed in the famous La Fonda Hotel. La Fonda means "the inn" in Spanish, and though the difference between an inn and a hotel may seem slight, the intimate character of an old country lodge here prevails.

There has been food and lodging at this corner for four hundred years, and a bakery with a delectable French twist for the last forty. History has seeped through the weathered brick and the hand formed plaster, the carved vigas, and the beams. It murmurs from each soft corner the echo of long past conversation. You feel it when you enter, and somehow know you will never forget.  

And yet, I don't actually recall when it was that I first came here, as though it was always. After persuading as many visitors as I can to come with me, I still have not had near enough of the timelessness commingled with the Croque Monsieur, the Mocha, or the strawberry jam Sables (lightly browned to utter perfection), let alone sufficient numbers of visits to venture far enough into the savory depths of the menu.

Sometimes the cafe is whisper quiet. Though Christmas always draws a huge crowd, as does summer, curiously we have never had to wait for a table. And at times we have needed more than one, for the sitting areas are very small, cozy, and convivial. (But hefty, made for lingering.)

This painting on the wall captures the scene perfectly.

The last time I visited the cafe on the square I made note that the majority of patrons were older. This is a tourist destination after all, and seniors have more of what it takes for discriminating cafe sitting. 

But locals, merchants, and artists of all stripes around the square also have gathering habits here. The cafe feeds one's inspiration as well as one's gustatory delights. The atmosphere fills as well as the food.

The gleam of copper warms in winter and welcomes in summer. This hearth makes me feel that I have wandered much farther than I have from my New Mexico outpost just an hour away.

I sometimes wonder what it would take to own a sample of the interior, as in another nice painting which hangs in here.

Or this evocative rendering of the storefront from the street.

Because you do want to take a piece of the place with you when you leave. Even if intangible. 

Fannie Flagg once said of her novel that the first character in Fried Green Tomatoes was the cafe. (The Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, GA is another nostalgic cafe that I have visited and that I love.) She thought that a place could be as much a charcter in a story as the people. The French Bakery on the square in Santa Fe would make a good candidate.

Best wishes from the Land of Enchantment.

Wishing you all many inspiring summer days ahead!


A photo of the Saint Fancis Cathedral in Winter that hangs in the cafe.


  1. Nice name for an inn, being my first name!

  2. Jacqueline I love this cafe and your poetic words gave me the feelings you have as you enter into this lovely place. Places like this are so full of history. Can you just imagine all of the different people that have enter through the doors. The many conversations over delicious food. Happy Weekend. xoxo

  3. Wow...I didn't know about the comments...I know they have dropped...lovely post. Really enjoyed your photos and history! Hug, Sandi

  4. what a wonderful spot! (oh my that copper!) It all looks so delicious and how fortunate you are to be able to visit often!

  5. It does look inviting and so filled with history! If only walls could talk...The paintings are wonderful. Lucky you. x K

  6. Jacqueline, what a sweet place. I love the thought of having a favorite little spot, with great food, to while the time away. We don't have anything exactly like that in our general area but there was one little French spot that we went to in San Diego that looks alot like yours. That has been awhile and I miss it..Thanks for bringing it back to me..xxoJudy

  7. Now a few years ago when I visited Santa Fe I remember looking inside, but can't remember if I bought a pastry. We had just had dinner inside the Inn and I think I was too full. Oh I want to go back again. I loved it there. I remember exactly where to find it. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. What a lovely little place to spend time with friends. You brought back memories of Deauville and the pastry shops we would visit on Summer afternoons. Remembering the glass cases filled with those wonderful delights, and the aroma that filled the air both inside and outside the building. So grand that you have a place like this to visit, Jacqueline! xxoo


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