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 Boxcar (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.

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.

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