I was sitting on the patio with my friends Dena and Stephanie, it was a gorgeous Santa Fe evening, the sun wasn’t quite setting but it wouldn’t be long; we had ordered our food and were talking about some thing or another while we waited. The patio, scattered with tables, was between the stoop, the entrance to Cowgirl Restaurant, and the host’s podium by the front door of the restaurant; it is a bit of an awkward arrangement having to walk around the tables on the patio to reach the host but it’s worth it. Cowgirl reminds me of a restaurant in the Texas Hill Country that I grew up going to, it has a similar menu and atmosphere so, in some ways, I feel nostalgic when I eat there.
The sun was still slowly making it way for the horizon, it was almost dusk so even though the sun was almost directly in my eyes it wasn’t nearly as glaring as it might be at midday, Dena and Stephanie were talking about something, I must have lacked interest because I started scanning the tables. My eyes hit the stoop and I saw the silhouette of a man walking up the stairs, I was able to piece together some features enough to build an image in my head, “that looks like Ed Harris.” I said, half serious. I interrupted my friend’s conversation and the three of us looked in the man’s direction. As he walked by our table it was unmistakable that it was Ed Harris making his way to the host through the patio.
Harris has always been a favorite actor of mine, he doesn’t often play leading roles, but he’s almost always among the leading ensemble cast, appearing in films like Apollo 13, the Truman Show, a History of Violence, a Beautiful Mind, Enemy at the Gates, the Rock, Milk Money, the Firm, the Abyss, the Right Stuff, and others, I was a little shocked to see him in person, and here at Cowgirl. I would later learn that Ed Harris lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as do a number of actors, authors. I was shocked but I wasn’t really surprised, Cowgirl is one of my favorite spots in Santa Fe. It’s not fancy or expensive, it’s simple southern style food and a nice change from the usual fine dining that most people speak of when they talk about Santa Fe.
I have spent a great deal of time at Cowgirl, other than the menu it has a nice bar, and patio, they have live music throughout the week. I was sitting at the bar, on one of my first few visits to Cowgirl, and I remember seeing a sticker on the margarita machine, almost obscured by the dozens of stickers surrounding it, that read, “Born Here All My Life.” I had never heard that before and I asked the bartender what that meant. She looked back at the sticker and laughed, “You’re not from here,” she said, and I shook my head. “It’s a Santa Fe thing, it’s something that locals who were born and raised here say. “I’ve never heard that before.”
I would go to Cowgirl on Friday evenings, early, while the band was setting up, and I would have dinner. And then close my tab, and open another at the bar, order a drink, and join the small crowd of people on the dance floor and dance while that evenings band would play, it was often Americana music, one of my favorites to dance to, especially if it was Broomdust Caravan playing.
Cowgirl Restaurant is located on Guadalupe Street just past the Aztec intersection, and only a couple of blocks from George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau single screen movie theatre. When you need a break from the high dollar, although delicious, fine dining in the area Cowgirl’s the spot, especially if Jim West or Karina Wilson are playing along with that night’s music.