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Goodwater, Northcote

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MELBOURNE | There’s a new bar in Northcote called Goodwater, and it’s from a team of friends who have worked at some of Melbourne’s best bars. It’s a neighbourhood bar with a cosy, unpretentious local’s vibe, and a focus on American whiskey.

That team consists of Nate White (Bar Margaux), Fred Siggins (Whisky and Alement, The Black Pearl), Cara Devine (Bomba), April Hudson (The Keys), John Hallett (The Everleigh), Yao Wong (The Elysian) and Kia Rasteh (Honey Barrel).

Named for the Algonquian word for the Mississippi River, you’ll find maps of ‘Goodwater’ on the exposed brick walls of the venue, with warm lighting, timber tables floors, and a big red rug. Out the back, is a surprisingly spacious courtyard, weatherproofed to be enjoyed year-round. It’s a fitout that goes well with the ethos of Goodwater. A serious drinks list for whiskey aficionados, but also approachable spot for those who just want a drink and to chill.

About that drinks list. Behind the bar you’ll find one of Australia’s best whiskey selections. Over 200 bottles of the good stuff, keenly priced at all levels of the price spectrum. There’s your go-to core range bottles from the likes of Mitcher’s and Maker’s Mark, experimental whiskeys from up-and-coming distillers the likes of which haven’t been seen in Australia before, and old rare bottles that are no longer in production.

Tell the knowledgeable bar staff what you like, and they’ll happily guide you towards something you’ll enjoy, telling you the story of the bottle, the distiller, and why they think you’ll like it.

If whiskey isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of reasons to visit Goodwater. There’s a smaller, but no less considered, selection of other spirits behind the bar, and a cocktails list featuring the classics and house creations. All house cocktails are designed to work three ways – short and strong, tall and refreshing, or non-alc. There’s also beer, wine, and other non-alc options.

If you’re feeling peckish, the food menu features snacks inspired by regional American dishes and flavours. Think crinkle-cut fries with Old Bay seasoning, French onion grilled cheese sandwiches, and sticky glazed General Tso’s chicken ribs.


Goodwater

300 High Street
Northcote
Victoria 3070
Australia

Telephone: n/a
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Wed – Thu: 5:00pm to 1:00am
Fri – Sat: 5:00pm to 2:00am
Sun: 5:00pm to 11:00pm

Emil’s Cafe, Pascoe Vale South

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MELBOURNE | Emil and Houda El-Khoury opened their suburban milk bar in Pascoe Vale South in 1978. Behind the milk bar, in a small two bedroom house, they raised their six children. Two of these children, brothers John and George, had a long held desire to open a cafe in the neighbourhood they grew up (and still live) in, and late last year they converted the family milk bar and house into Emil’s Cafe. I was recently invited to check it out.

Talking to John and George as they showed me through the cafe, it’s clear that Emil’s is a place that’s genuine and comes from the heart. Photos on the walls show every-day family moments in the house over the years, and it’s not uncommon to see the cafe’s namesake, Emil, hanging out there. Along with seats and tables, the milk bar section is where you’ll find the coffee counter and grab-and-go cabinet. There’s also a few shelves lined with nostalgic Aussie and Middle Eastern pantry items, informed by the brother’s Australian/Lebanese upbringing.

Behind, in the old house, each room has a story and many of the original fittings and furnishings have been repurposed. Mum and dad’s bedroom and the living room are distinct dining space, while the backyard is a pet-friendly courtyard. The kitchen is in what used to be one of the kid’s bedrooms.

On the menu, designed by consultant-chef Sam Pinzone, you’ll find a selection of modern Australian/Middle Eastern dishes. Family recipes, and creations inspired by the food that the El-Khoury’s cook at home. Houda helps out in the kitchen, making things like falafel wraps, toum, and knafeh. There’s a focus on honest flavours, local ingredients, and independent suppliers.

If you want a bit of everything, ‘Emil’s Big Breakfast’ is a great option that gets you poached eggs, za’atar grilled flatbread, sujuk, haloumi, shakshuka sauce, sauteed spinach, and hash browns. The shakshuka, with a twist of hummus and roasted pine nuts, is another great choice, as are the Turkish poached eggs with lime yoghurt, sujuk, dill, buerre noisette, smoky Aleppo pepper, and simit.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the knafeh with pistachio crumbs, vanilla bean ice-cream, rose syrup, and fairy floss, is a top choice. To drink it’s Code Black coffee served any way you like, tea, fresh juices, smoothies, and kombucha. There’s also a small cocktail, wine, and beer selection if you wanting something boozy.

Emil’s might only be a few months old, but given its story, and the El-Khoury family’s long involvement in the local community, it feels like the kind of warm, genuine place that’s been around for decades.


Emil’s Cafe

347 Reynard Street
Pascoe Vale South
Victoria 3044
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9384 6004
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Mon – Sat: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Sun: 8:00am to 4:00pm

King Clarence, Sydney CBD

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SYDNEY | Bentley Group has a habit of kicking goals with their venues. When they announce a new one, expectation are high. King Clarence, which opened in December last year, is the newest venue in the group’s stable and is headed up by executive chef Khanh Nguyen. As if expectations weren’t high enough already.

The space is bright, and colourful, industrial and fun. Add a DJ spinning loud dance and electro beats, and you’ve got a venue that’s popping with energy. On one side of the airy dining room you’ll find the bar, and on the other side the kitchen, which eschews the modern trend for open kitchens (although you can peep in on the action from the enclosed side wall).

Sydney-born and raised Nguyen spent years cooking in the kitchens of Bentley Group’s restaurants before moving to Melbourne and taking things to the next level as head chef at Sunda and ARU. The food is reminiscent of Sunda’s fun and freewheeling early days, influenced by Nguyen’s lockdown experiments and creations, and techniques refined at Aru.

Similarly to Sunda and ARU, King Clarence is a modern Australian restaurant with South East Asian influences. Unlike the former two which leant strongly towards Indonesian flavours, King Clarence looks to Korea, Japan, and China for inspiration.

Dishes are fun and exciting, with bold flavours and interesting twists. It’s a menu that lends itself well to individual snacking and sharing. There’s things like the signature fish finger bao with mustard greens, American cheese, pickled chilli, and salmon roe; pork and prawn dumplings with black vinegar and chilli oil infused with 14 spices; and cold, springy buckwheat noodles with enoki, shredded potato, and native pepper in spring onion oil.

For larger plates, the Angus beef short rib with chickpea miso, horseradish oroshi, and sweet soy is a must try. So to, the short grain claypot rice with char sui pork jowl, garlic chive, and egg yolk. For dessert, go for the mango pudding with coconut, cultured cream, vanilla bean, and passionfruit.

The wine list is varied in style and price, with many options available by the glass. House cocktails are fun, taking the same pan-Asian inspiration as the food.


King Clarence

171 Clarence Street
Sydney
New South Wales 2000
Australia

Telephone: (02) 9882 2634
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Sun – Wed: 12:00pm to 9:30pm
Thu: 12:00pm to 10:30pm
Fri – Sat: 12:00pm to 10:00pm

Hor Kitchen, Melbourne CBD

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MELBOURNE | Hor Kitchen is a Malaysian restaurant that I noticed walk walking through the CBD a few months ago. I couldn’t find anything about it online at the time, which made me all the more intrigued. Last weekend, armed with my camera and a craving for Malaysian food, I popped in for What’s On Melbourne.

Open until late at night every day except Tuesday, Hor Kitchen is named for the three brothers who own it. The trio’s aim with their restaurant is a simple one – to serve up delicious, authentic home-style Malaysian dishes to their guests.

On the extensive menu you’ll find all of the favourites like nasi lemak, char kway teow, and curry mee. There’s also dishes that are not so common in Melbourne like kam heong chicken on rice, kampung-style nasi goreng, and wat tan hor.

The Hor brothers hail from Gerik, a town in the Northern Malaysian state of Perak, and their food reflects the food of the region. When eating at Hor Kitchen, you might notice subtle differences to the versions of things you might have tried before.

I opted for a few favourites in char kway teow with blood cockles, roti canai with beef rendang, and curry mee with Hainanese chicken. All quality with balanced, fragrant flavours. I also got a plate of a dish that I can’t recall trying before, sambal petai with rice and crispy pork.

Sambal petai is a sambal of red chilli, garlic, shallot, and petai (green ‘stinky bean’). It has a strong, pungent flavour, and is wonderful. Get a bit of rice, egg, sambal, and pork in each mouthful and you’re in for a treat.

To drink, it’s classic hot and cold Malaysian drinks like kopi, teh, Milo, and 100 Plus.


Hor Kitchen

264-266 Russell Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9882 2634
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Sun – Mon, Wed – Thu: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am to 12:00am

ima Asa Yoru, Brunswick

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MELBOURNE | ima Asa Yoru is the Brunswick reincarnation of Carlton’s popular Japanese cafe, ima Project, which opened in the second half of last year. It’s the realisation of what owners and couple Asako Miura and James Spinks wanted to do evolve ima Project into, but couldn’t quite do given the space constraints of the original location. Asako runs front of house, while James leads the kitchen.

Housed in the sustainable, environmentally-conscious Nightingale Village development, ima Asa Yoru is a cafe by day (‘asa’) and izayaka by night (‘yoru’). It’s a light, open space, with high ceilings, natural materials, warm lighting, and splashes of blue. A long bar looks over the open kitchen, which features new toys like a custom-built Brick Chef charcoal grill.

In sync with the sustainability credentials of the building, ima Asa Yoru operates using a low-waste, high recycling model. Scraps are given a second life in some of the dishes, or composted, while rescued ‘ugly’ produce is given a chance to shine.

During the day, it’s an all-day breakfast and lunch menu featuring things like chirashi (seasoned rice with kingfish), tamagoyaki (rolled beaten-egg omlette) with rice puffs, and ima’s signature teishoku sets of rice, miso soup, pickles, and fish or eggplant. There’s single origin coffee and tea, alternative lattes, and house-made juices.

For dinner, it’s an izakaya-style menu of hot and cold dishes that blends contemporary Melbourne dining with Japanese flavours and technique. Beef tataki is topped with a roasted tomato and yakiniku sauce, and leeks and garlic chips. Kingfish and scallop sashimi is served simply with wakame and a yuzu vinaigrette, while crispy fried prawn heads are designed to be eaten whole, served with kimchi mayo.

The rich fattiness of tender grilled ox tongue is offset by delicate leek and shio tare with notes of yuzu. Mixed mushrooms, meanwhile, shine with soy, shallot oil, and lemon zest.

To drink, it’s an interesting selection of wine, sake, and beer, plus house cocktails that put a Japanese spin on the classics. The hojicha old fashioned is a must try. There’s also a decent selection of non-alcoholic options if you’re looking to skip the booze.

A few doors up you’ll find ima Pantry. Visit during the day for a selection of grocery essentials, local artisanal products, unique Japanese pantry items, and takeaway options like toasties, onigiri, and Japanese pastries.


ima Asa Yoru

1 Duckett Street
Brunswick
Victoria 3056
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9989 2309
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Tue: 11:00am to 3:00pm
Wed – Fri: 11:00am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sat: 10:00am to 3:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Sun: 8:30am to 3:00pm

48 Hours In El Paso: Things To Do

EL PASO | El Paso is a city located on the Rio Grande across the Mexico–United States border from Ciudad Juárez. The region is rich in culture, called home by Native American people for over 10,000 years. The city itself (present day Juárez) was founded by the Spanish as El Paso del Norte in 1659. The northern part of that city became El Paso in 1850, in the aftermath of the Mexican–American War.

This history has shaped the city as it exists today. When you visit, you’ll see its influence of the city’s culture, food, arts scene, and more. El Paso is a unique city, not quite like any other in the US. There are lots of things to do in El Paso, its compact size making it a great option if you’re looking for a short getaway.

Here’s my list of the best things to do in El Paso.


Discover The City’s Vibrant Murals

El Paso has a thriving street art scene. The combination of its border city status, history, and vibrant university means that there’s a lot for people to talk about through their art.

In particular, check out the city’s Centro, El Segundo, and Lincoln Park neighbourhoods. They’re full of colourful murals depicting the city’s Latin and Native American culture and community.

The mixed industrial and residential El Segundo Barrio is my favourite, filled with amazing Chicano murals. Beautiful murals pained by locals, through which they share their lives, dreams, concerns, and stories.

Eat Mexican Food

It goes without saying that the Mexican food in El Paso is outstanding. There’s traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex food aplenty, ranging from simple street food-style far to more substantial home-style meals.

For home-style Mexican dishes cooked with love, visit L&J Cafe. It’s run by the fourth generation of the family that opened the restaurant in 1927. For classic Mexican fare in an unexpected dive bar location, The Tap Bar & Restaurant is a must visit. Their nachos, with each corn chip individually topped with just the right proportion of ingredients, are considered by many to be the best in Texas. For a unique, affordable snack, the rolled tacos (flautas) in tomato soup at institution Chico’s Tacos are worth a try.

Go To A Museum

There’s no shortage of museums to visit in El Paso. The El Paso Museum of History is a great place to learn about the past 400 years of history in the United States/Mexico border region. The Chamizal National Memorial, meanwhile, deals with the over 100-year long Chamizal dispute (which was settled in 1964) caused by the shifting Rio Grande, and the associated border uncertainties that this created.

Art lovers can visit the El Paso Museum of Art. It contains a collection of American, Mexican, and European art. History buffs should visit the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Museum, which delves into the role that Fort Bliss has played in the area since its establishment in 1949 as an army training and operations centre.

Learn About The Chihuahuan Desert

The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens can be found at the University of Texas El Paso campus. They showcase the over 800 plants that live in the Chihuahuan Desert, with an interesting exhibit that details the desert’s history, and topical current issues related to the desert.

See A Himalayan Temple

While at the University, be sure to visit the Lhakhang Cultural Exhibit. The Lhakhang is an authentic Bhutanese temple that was gifted to the United States in 2008. The interior was built in Bhutan, and shipped to the US where it was assembled by American and Bhutanese craftspeople, using traditional techniques.

Step Thousands Of Years Back In Time

Hidden in the Chihuahua Desert, just outside of El Paso, you’ll find the Hueco Tanks. They’re catch-basin rocks covered in over 3,000 pictographs, some of which date back to 6000-3000 BCE. Up to 8,000 years of Native American cultures are represented in these paintings. They show things like mask designs of the Pueblan Katchina Cult, hunts of the Mescalero Apache Plains warriors, and scenes from daily life.

Beyond the pictographs, the area is also a great spot for hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Visit A Historic Theatre

The Plaza Theatre was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style in 1930. Carefully restored in 2006, it features intricately painted ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors, decorative metal railings and antique furniture. It’s one of the few atmospheric theatres remaining in the US, conveying the illusion that viewers are seated outdoors in a Spanish courtyard.

It’s well worth seeing a show or performance here, but if that’s not your thing, you can still admire the interior and exterior. Free public tours are run every Tuesday at 12:00pm.

Walk Along The Border

El Paso–Juárez is a transborder agglomeration. That is, two cities in two countries that are, in basic terms, one city. Indeed, until 1850, both cities were one and the same, the Mexican city of El Paso del Norte.

Walking along the border is an enlightening experience. The part of El Centro that starts about a 10 minute walk from the border is lively, fascinating area to walk through. It’s a world away from the “skyscraper” part of of the neighbourhood, just a few blocks north. One moment you feel like you’re in a typical US downtown, the next it feels like you’re in Mexico.

If you’re up for it, and have your passport on you, you can even walk across the Paso del Norte International Bridge and have a wander through Juarez. If you do, it’s best to organise a walking tour with one of the many El Paso-based operators who run them.


Have you been to El Paso before? What are some of your favourite things to do in the city?

48 Hours In Cheyenne: Things To Do

CHEYENNE | Cheyenne is the capital and largest city in Wyoming. Founded in 1867, and named for the Cheyenne Native American people, the very mention of the city evokes memories of frontier days and the Wild West.

Cheyenne is a great city in which to enjoy a long weekend. Visitors to the city will find a place full of character that leans into its past, while also having a vibrant modern arts and music scene. Learn about cowboys, rodeos, and the railroads, then see a band or a show while enjoying a locally brewed brew.

Here’s my list of things to do in Cheyenne, to help you plan your visit.


Admire Authentic Historic Architecture

Cheyenne is a low-rise city. It’s tallest building is the Wyoming State Capitol, a grand sandstone building that was constructed between 1886 and 1890. You can tour the sandstone building, which is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.

Downtown is filled with beautiful Victorian-era architecture, which evokes the days of the Wild West. There’s theatres, mansions, and more, dating back to the early 1900s. Check out the Union Pacific Railroad Depot, Paramount Ballroom, and Cody Theatre.

Discover The City’s Bronze Statues

25 bronze statues have been installed across Cheyenne since 2010, with at least 30 more planned in the coming years. The statues feature western figures, people, wildlife and scenes from everyday life. They’re a representation the experience of the city, the state of Wyoming, and its people. Finding them, and reading the plaques on each, is a great way to learn assorted pieces of information about Wyoming.

Enjoy The City’s Food & Drink Scene

Downtown favourite The Albany is a casual bar and restaurant serving up American classics, while Railspur is a great choice for contemporary American eats. Another great options is The Office Bar and Grill, especially if you want to try a bison steak. For the best BBQ in town, be sure to visit T-N-T BBQ, which pops up a few times a week in the parking lot of trinket and antiques store Funky Monkey.

During the day, Paramount Cafe is a good choice for quality coffee, and tasty breakfast and lunch bites. For a drink, check out Westby Edge Brewing, Accomplice Beer Company, and Blue Raven Brewery.

Experience Cowboy and Cowgirl Culture

Cheyenne Frontier Days is a 10 day festival of rodeos, concerts, cultural celebrations, and a livestock show. It’s been run for 130 years and is the largest outdoor and rodeo celebration in the world. It happens in late July each year, and is a great way to experience the city’s cowboy and cowgirl culture.

If you’re not in town when the festival is on, there’s usually a rodeo on somewhere close to town.

Find The Giant Cowboy Boots

Dotted around downtown are 36 giant, 2.4 metre (8 foot), cowboy boots painted by local artists. Each “Cheyenne Big Boot” portrays a different theme, dealing with a different part of the city’s history. There’s the whimsical, like card-playing deer and antelope, to important events like women’s suffrage.

Learn About Wyoming’s History

Cheyenne was built in the era of the railway, and railways are one of the backbones of the city. The Cheyenne Depot Museum, a grand Romanesque stone building, teaches visitors about this history. The Nelson Museum of the West, meanwhile, deals with the ‘Wild West’ history of the city. To learn more about Cheyenne’s ranching and rodeo culture, visit the Cowgirls of the West Museum & Emporium.

Seek Out Street Art

Cheyenne isn’t the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about street art, but it’s a city that punches above its weight in that regard. There’s quite a few murals in downtown and around the industrial area in the western part of the city.

Murals are mostly painted by local artists and have a community focus. On the first Friday of each month, you can join a Cheyenne Artwalk, which are run by local artists.

Shop For Western Apparel

Consisting of a three story red-painted brick building dating back to 1892, and the adjacent former hotel is The Wrangler. It’s a one-stop-shop for ranch wear, Western clothing, hats, boots and accessories. There’s 500 different hats alone, with prices to suit all budgets. Even if you’re not intending to buy anything, it’s a fascinating store to walk through.

Spend Time In Nature

Located a 25 minute drive west of downtown, Curt Gowdy State Park is a public recreation area covering 13.7 square kilometres (5.3 square miles). It’s popular for its extensive biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails. You can also go boating, canoeing, water skiing, fishing, camping, rockhounding, and do archery.

Doju, Melbourne CBD

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MELBOURNE | Korean food continues to go from strength to strength in Melbourne. From traditional late night Korean BBQ spots pocha-inspired venues, to restaurants that are putting a contemporary spin on things, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of Korean food in this city. The latest restaurant to throw its hat into the ring is Doju.

Doju takes its name from owner/head chef Mika Chae’s hometown Jeollanam-do and Meju, a fermented, Korean soybean bloc. Mika moved to Australia in 2013, working at Sezar and Attica before moving to Tasmanian to become head chef at Grain of the Silos in Launceston. Here, he deepened his knowledge of Australian produce and farming, building close relationships with Tasmanian farmers.

Working directly with farmers, and selecting the produce himself is a key part of the quality sourcing ethos at Doju. It’s a modern Australian restaurant, driven by seasonality, inspired Korean flavours and cooking techniques.

Like many Melbourne menus of late, snacks and small dishes are where the really fun stuf happens. Order everything from both sections, like I did, and you’ll be in for a treat.

Sourdough is flavoured with gochujang and served with zucchini dip, while beef tartare uses beef from retired dairy cows with, desert lime and a dill emulsion, atop bugak (fried rice flour coated seaweed cracker). Tender, subtly smoky burnt leeks with chicken skin crisp, cashew cream, and brown butter are a must try. So too is the WA marron with garlic butter, stinging nettle noodle, and ‘green sauce’.

From the larger dishes, it’s hard to go past the wonderful array of vegetables that’s the ganjang braised kohlarbi, endive escariole, and oyster mushroom. If it’s something meatier you’re after, there’s lamb rump with garlic yogurt, cimi de rapa, and herbs; and steak of the day with seasonal condiments. Both are cooked over fire on the charcoal grill. Whatever you do, be sure to order the baked potato with black garlic butter side. It’s fantastic.

For dessert, the sesame ash chocolate cigar, filled with coffee mascarpone and cherry jam, is a light way to end your meal. As for drinks, there’s a sharp wine, soju, and beer list, plus house cocktails that feature Korean flavours like Korean pear, yuju (yuzu), and gochujang.

And yes, if you’re wondering about that surname, Mika is a distant cousin of chef Jung Eun Chae, of Cockatoo restaurant Chae fame.


Doju

9/530 Little Collins Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9576 7447
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Mon – Sat: 5:00pm to 10:00pm

48 Hours In Santa Fe: Things To Do

SANTA FE | Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is not only the oldest city in New Mexico, it’s the oldest capital city in the United States. The area’s history extends much further back than this however. Pueblo Native Americans established villages as late as 1150, and their influence is still felt in the city today.

Santa Fe is one of the great ‘art cities’ of the US. It’s home to numerous artists, galleries, and art installations, with an arts scene that’s constantly evolving. The city has its own unique style of architecture, and its own delicious cuisine.

Combine all of this with great weather year-round, and you’ve got a great destination for a weekend getaway. In alphabetical order, here’s my list of the best things to do in Santa Fe.


Be Amazed By Downtown’s Unique Architecture

Walk through central Santa Fe, and you’re surrounded by buildings that are uniquely of their place. There’s two main styles that dominate. Spanish Pueblo and Territorial, and the revival of these styles.

These unique, adobe structures are instantly recognisable for their soft, rounded corners and exposed wooden support beams. Built through the 16th, 17th, and into the 18th century, these structures were inspired by traditional Pueblo adobe homes, but incorporated modern Spanish construction techniques, and Spanish architectural influences.

Check out my article, The Unique ‘Frozen In Time’ Architecture Of Santa Fe, for a more in depth look at the topic, and more photos.

Check Out The Petroglyphs

Located just outside the city, the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs are a must see when visiting Santa Fe. Hundreds of petroglyphs (native rock art), created by Keresan-speaking Puebloan people living in the area between the 13th and 17th centuries, can be found here. You’ll find representations of things like birds, deer, hunters, and early Native flute players.

Eat New Mexican Food

New Mexican cuisine originated in Santa Fe de Nuevo México, a province of the Spanish empire, later a part of Mexico, and today part of the US states of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. New Mexican food has much in common with Mexican food, but is a distinct cuisine it its own right.

It’s a cuisine that’s been influenced by the culinary history of the region’s native Pueblo inhabitants (in particular the the Apache and Navajo tribes), and New Mexican spices, herbs, flavours, and vegetables. In particular, red and green New Mexico chile peppers, anise, and piñon (pine nuts).

In Santa Fe, you can find small family-run spots like El Chile Toreado, serving up traditional New Mexican food, as well as new restaurants, like Paloma, putting a contemporary spin on things.

For a more detailed look at the food of New Mexico, and places to find it not just in Santa Fe, but in the wider region, check out my article, Discovering New Mexican Food: Places To Try.

Explore The Great Outdoors

Santa Fe’s climate is characterised by cool, dry winters, hot summers, and little rain. This makes it a great option for outdoor activities no matter the time of year. Riding the rapids of the Rio Grande and going for a hike in the Santa Fe Ski Basin are both great options.

It’s a high altitude place, so even more so than usual be sure to remember your hat and sunscreen.

Go To Market

The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market hosts up to 130 local farmers from across New Mexico. Operating every Saturday year ’round, and on Tuesdays too between May and December, visit for a wide variety of local produce, artisan products, and delicious breakfast and lunch eats.

For lovers of arts and crafts, check out the Railyard Artisan Market. Operating every Sunday, it’s one the best places in Santa Fe to purchase arts and crafts directly from local artists.

Have A Multisensory Experience

Underground Art Collective Meow Wolf might be well known for their large scale experiences in cities like Las Vegas and Denver, but it all started in Santa Fe in 2008. House of Eternal Return is their all-ages multisensory experience, where visitors explore a curious family home. It’s a dream-like place, a self described “expression of punk subversion and magical humanness”. Most importantly, it’s a whole lot of fun.

See A Movie Or A Show

Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema was opened by four movie-goers as “The Collective Fantasy”, in 1976. In 1983, it was purchased by a new owner, who remodelled it and renamed it “The Jean Cocteau” (for the famed French novelist and filmmaker).

By 2006, the theatre had fallen into disrepair and closed down. It remained closed until Santa Fe local and Game of Thrones author George RR Martin purchased it in 2013. The reborn theatre screens a mix of new and classic independent films, comedy, live music, and drag shows. There’s a bar and a popcorn machine which makes, according to Martin, “the best popcorn in town”.

Visit An Art Gallery

As I mentioned earlier, Santa Fe is one of the great ‘art cities’ of the US. With over 250 art galleries, there’s something for lovers of all kinds of art. Be sure to visit the contemporary galleries and art spaces of the Railyard District, in particular SITE Santa Fe.

Canyon Road is another area worth visiting. It’s an 800 meter (half mile) stretch of over 100 traditional and contemporary art galleries, jewellery stores, clothing boutiques, home furnishings shops, artist studios, and restaurants. No matter what art niche you’re interested in, you’ll find somewhere dealing with it here.


Have you been to Santa Fe before? Is your favourite thing to do in Santa Fe on my list? Let me know!

Oakland Street Art Guide

OAKLAND | When visiting the Bay Area, tourists tend to stick to San Francisco. Head to the ‘sunny side of the bay’, Oakland, however, and you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of great food and drink, street art, and more. You’ll want an Oakland street art guide to help you know where to start, and that’s what this article is all about.

Throughout downtown Oakland, and further out in its neighbourhoods, you’ll find murals large and small, with a strong essence on the local community. Oakland’s cultural diversity is reflected in its street art. People’s hopes and dreams, fears, and issues of social justice feature prominently.

Unlike many cities around the world, Oakland’s street art tends to be front and centre on the main streets. It’s not a city that you’ll need to wander down side street and alleyways to find the best pieces. But of course, there’s lots of street art to be found in those places too.

Also worth mentioning are Oakland’s art galleries. Johansson Projects and SLATE Contemporary are two contemporary art galleries that are well worth visiting if you’re a fan of street art. They showcase emerging local artists amongst others, with a focus on experimental, thought-provoking pieces. Also check out Oakland Art Murmur. It’s a collective of art and cultural venues that run city art walks on the first Friday of every month.

In this Oakland street art guide, I’ll tell you about some of my favourite neighbourhoods to visit for Oakland’s best street art.


Downtown Oakland

If you’re staying in Oakland, Downtown Oakland is probably where you’ll find yourself. It’s a great part of town, filled with the second largest concentration of art deco buildings in the world, behind Chicago. There’s a high concentration of street art in the area, many of which adorns, compliments, and contrasts with the art deco architecture.

Downtown is a great place to start exploring Oakland’s street art scene, and my advice is to wander all over. There’s just so much art in this part of town that you can’t restrict yourself to just one or two streets. Note the many murals painted by the community that deal with topics of racism, inequality, identity, and justice. Many of these were painted in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and during other Black Lives Matter protests, and remain today.

Heading south through Downtown, you’ll find Old Oakland, which is an historical area filled with plenty of food and drink, and beatiful late 1800s Victorian buildings. Further south, passing under the 880 Highway, you’ll find the Jack London/Loft district. There’s a lot of street art around here, as well as some of the city’s most exciting breweries, food, and drink. The warehouses between Clay and Brush Streets are particularly noteworthy for their murals.

Jingletown

Originally known for its dairy farms in the 1850s, Jingletown is today a neighbourhood known for its vibrant arts community. Musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, and more call the neighbourhood home, setting up residence in the neighbourhood’s converted warehouses and lofts.

In particular, note the area around Peterson Street and Ford Street. It’s home to several great murals, as well as the highly regarded Ford Street Studios and Gray Loft Gallery. Both are live work spaces built by artists, for artists, featuring assorted artworks by local artists.

Temescal

Located in North Oakland, Temescal is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. Long an artist haven, most of the area’s street art can be found along Telegraph Street. In particular, check out 4400 Telegraph Avenue. It’s a lot owned by the community group Critical Resistance, featuring a constantly rotating selection of community-created murals.

If you get hungry while exploring, grab a feed at one of the many Ethiopian and Korean restaurants on Telegraph Street.

Uptown Oakland

Similarly to Downtown, Uptown Oakland is home to beautiful art deco budlings, great place to eat and drink, and a whole lot of street art.

West Oakland

West Oakland is an area of contrasts. Walking west from Downtown Oakland towards West Oakland station, you’ll find an area that’s rich in history and culture. The area is a centre of African-American culture, and is where the Black Panther Party was founded in the 1960s.

This history is reflected in West Oakland’s murals. There’s a strong focus on African-American culture, civil rights, social justice, and community.

Be sure to visit the is The Women of The Black Panther Party Mural and Mini Museum at 831 Center Street. It’s 186 square meter (2,000 square foot) mural installed on a private home, that recognises and honours the role of the Black Panther Women and the over 65 Community Survival Programs they created and managed.


Identified artists featured in the image gallery include:

Happy discoveries on your street art walk through Oakland. What are your favourites places for street art in Oakland? Are there any street art neighbourhoods beyond these hotspots that you love?