First Dining Adventure During Pandemic
Don and I have spent years dining in risky neighborhoods and eating foods that could make us ill. We are not afraid.
But we have not taken risks during this pandemic. We've only enjoyed take out... until August 2020, when we found ourselves at La Fonda Hotel, in Santa Fe!
Two years ago, we were in Santa Fe and I wanted badly to eat at La Fonda's lovely restaurant. But I only got a photo.
In 2018, I took this photo when the restaurant was getting ready to open.
In August 2020
This past August, Don and I stayed at the historic La Fonda, on the way back from visiting our kids in Oregon.
The restaurant that I fondly remembered, had become a temporary art gallery.
The Tower Bar
On another Santa Fe visit, Don and I enjoyed sunset happy hour at the hotel's rooftop bar.
This is how it looked when we visited in the evening, 2 years ago. Don and I were able to grab a couple of seats at the railing. It was wonderful then, watching the sunset and chatting with a few others seated nearby. But we weren't up for pandemic bar lounging, on this visit.
We had chosen to stay at La Fonda after reading reviews about how safely the hotel handled the pandemic concerns. Even though we had chosen to travel during a pandemic, we had stayed away from restaurant dining. Home cooking and carryouts for 5 months.
But the hotel had strict regulations, so we checked out the open air restaurant. We couldn't have been more impressed.
It was about 4, when we asked if we could look around. Alysia, one of the servers greeted us in her mask and gloves. I told her we were a little concerned about how this all worked. We hadn't eaten in a restaurant since pandemic worries began in March.
Alysia told us to feel free to look around. The patio looked wonderful, with tables spread far apart.
There were a few tables in the covered space, but we were eager about being outside.
There was a table near the colorful tiles, that surrounded what had once been a fountain.
Alysia showed us one of her favorite tables, with a view of St. Francis. We asked if we could reserve it and she spoke with Nadia the manager. We were all set!
Under the Umbrella!
We returned a couple hours later and were seated at the perfect little table, under a striped umbrella.
We kept peeking around at the other diners to see what the routine was. Are we supposed to wear our masks the whole time? Is it tacky to put a mask on the table when you're dining? So new to this!
Our table felt wonderfully secluded, with a wall on one side and gigantic potted plants creating more privacy. It seemed like we were miles from other tables.
We kept our masks on to order and then made a toast, when our sparkling wine arrived. When we finished clinking our glasses, the church bells began to chime!
"Cheers! To our first restaurant outing in nearly a half year!"
When I stood to take Don's photo, a kind diner jumped up and offered to take a picture of us both.
For a moment I forgot about the pandemic. So had he, Then he apologized for not putting on his mask. It was an awkward and funny and hopefully safe, little encounter.
We toasted for the photo. I thanked him, then frantically dug for my travel hand sanitizer and wiped down my hands and phone. I'll laugh at this some day.
I ordered Huitlacoche Tamal. It was amazing. It came with Grilled Sweet Corn and Pistachio Green Chile Cream.
I loved the interesting square of Cashew Cake... which was kind of like a stuffing. And asparagus! Heavenly! Until the wind suddenly gusted and the dark clouds began to let loose.
In about 1 minute, the gracious staff had moved us under the roof and we were feasting again. Don's Enchiladas del Norte, was spicy good! Shredded Chicken and Christmas Chile (red and green). His meal came with Pork Posole, Black Beans, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole. He shared his Sopapillas with me!
We couldn't have been more pleased with our meal and service. We thanked all who served us and tipped well.
Then we headed off on a post-meal walk and talked about how wonderful it felt to actually "dine out", after all this time.
It's still going to be a while before we have reason or desire to do it again. Weather is too hot for outdoor dining in Texas and we just aren't okay with inside dining yet.
Who knows when the next Dining Adventure will be?
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.