DURING THE DOG DAYS, I start looking at my stove as an enemy. Not only has the heat zapped my energy to cook, but working over a hot oven sounds like a punishment of the cruel and unusual variety. Luckily, summer is also a great time to escape the kitchen to grab rooftop margaritas, wander a farmers’ market, or chill out with a locally made paleta.


Few things signal the beginning of summer—and margarita season—quite like the reopening of La Fonda on the Plaza’s Bell Tower Rooftop Bar each May. With seven marg iterations, the bustling Santa Fe open-air bar has been the place for cold drinks and memorable sunsets since the 1990s. Try the classic Silver Coin, which uses Corralejo Blanco, Cointreau, and fresh-squeezed lime, or go with Ethel’s Frozen Blue Margarita, a blue curaçao–colored slushy with tequila blanco and house-made margarita mix. “Nothing on the Plaza can be higher than the cathedral, but the tower is close,” says Rik Blyth, president of La Fonda Hospitality Group. “I’ve seen the most spectacular sunsets of my life from up there.”


The 30-foot-tall pistachio sculpture in Alamogordo is likely New Mexico’s most iconic roadside attraction. But McGinn PistachioLand’s small-batch ice cream is also worth a stop. “We only use pistachios from our farm,” says Tom McGinn, whose family owns and operates PistachioLand and its 90-acre orchard. “If you get pistachio ice cream elsewhere, it’s usually mixed with almonds, so it doesn’t have that rich pistachio flavor.” Order your scoops served in a house-made waffle bowl at the take-out window, then devour it while marveling McGinn’s orchard.


Ask a Burqueño to describe a perfect Sunday in the Duke City, and there’s a good chance it will start with a ride to Bike In Coffee at Old Town Farm. Located on the bike path next to I-40, just east of the Río Grande, the working farm and event space sits on 12 acres of verdant agricultural land irrigated by the historic Duranes acequia madre. From Wednesday to Sunday, cyclists and pedestrians (there’s limited car parking) convene under towering cottonwood trees for daily specials and Chimayó red chile posole. “I got in trouble when I took the posole off the menu last summer,” says head chef David Reyes. “People still want to eat it when it’s 100 degrees outside.” This summer, the Tijuana-born chef has plans for farm salads, homemade chorizo crepes, and a new nonalcoholic bar with healthy beverages like watermelon agua fresca.

Create a foodie crawl at the Las Cruces Farmers & Craft Market. Photograph courtesy of Douglas Merriam.


Last year (for the second year in a row), the American Farmland Trust named the Las Cruces Farmers & Craft Market the best farmers’ market in New Mexico, and it’s not hard to see why. Each Wednesday and Saturday, local creativity and the bounty of the season are on full display at nearly 200 vendor booths stretching for seven blocks along Main Street. Market manager Karin Bradshaw suggests starting your foodie crawl with a bag of sweet and salty SW Kettle Corn. “The line starts at 8:30 a.m. and doesn’t let up until close,” she says. Then hit the Luchador Food Truck for their professional-wrestling-themed street tacos, tortas, and Hawaiian-inspired The Rock Burger (if you smell what they’re cooking), topped with grilled pineapple and ham. For dessert, grab a fresh-baked pecan or cherry pie from Sun Country Kitchen and head for the shade.


Forget the ice cream truck; Loteria Paleteria’s trike is the dessert vehicle for a sweltering day. Made from fresh fruits, herbs, and spices, or all-natural cream and chocolate, Loteria’s artisanal paletas aren’t your pedestrian popsicles. Find the silver cart at Taos’s John Dunn shopping area, and try the Lavender Lemonade, made from fresh hand-squeezed lemons and dried lavender flowers from Taos Herb Company. “This paleta was born from a desire to capture the essence of New Mexico in a single, refreshing bite,” says Loteria’s owner, Carmen Medrano. If you’re hungry for more, Loteria Paleteria recently opened a brick-and-mortar location off Paseo Del Pueblo Sur, serving their sweet frozen treats, stuffed conchas, churros, fruit cups, and mini doughnuts, as well as savory beef birria ramen, quesatacos, elotes, chilaquiles, and more.


For the last four years, KitFox—a glamping and gastronomic experience nestled in the Galisteo Basin Preserve—has been elevating the campfire cookout by utilizing farm-fresh local ingredients, gourmet recipes, and the skills of some of New Mexico’s finest chefs. “We’ve always focused on local produce and products,” co-founder Jennifer Kolker says of KitFox’s Dine in the Wild summer dinners. Before sleeping in luxurious tents under vibrant New Mexico stars, campers can dine on menu items like tender red-chile-braised short ribs served on a bed of polenta. But no camping experience is complete without s’mores. KitFox provides guests with all the fixings to roast their own over a roaring campfire.

Read more: Whether it’s a Wednesday on the plaza or a three-day festival, these tips will help you enjoy the tunes.