A food essay about The Cowgirl Restaurant Santa Fe, New Mexico by James Bonner

Cowgirl Restaurant: A Santa Fe Gem with a Touch of Nostalgia


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 talked about a few subjects 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 its way to 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 pieced 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 unmistakably 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 Showa History of Violencea Beautiful MindEnemy at the Gates, the RockMilk Moneythe Firmthe Abyssthe 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 many actors, and authors. I was shocked but not 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, and they have live music throughout the week. Sitting at the bar on one of my first visits to Cowgirl 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 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. Then I closed my tab, opened another at the bar, ordered a drink, and joined the small crowd of people on the dance floor and danced while that evening band would play, it was often Americana music, one of my favorites to dance to, especially if it was Broomdust Caravan playing. Cowgirl may not be the best restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but it is certainly one of the most fun spots in Santa Fe and will undoubtedly enhance your New Mexico experience.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.