University of Maryland, College Park

Santa Fe Café
March 2006
by Marc B. Zawel

Maryland and New Mexico may be at opposite corners of the country, but any UM student unable to road trip 2,000 miles to the sunny Southwest knows the way to Santa Fe is a few blocks from campus. For 17 years, the Santa Fe Café has served up frozen margaritas and lime-stuffed bottles of Corona to thirsty Terps, and although the approximately 25,000 undergrads have a few other dives to dwell in, they can’t say enough about their favorite watering hole.

The Scene: It wouldn’t be unexpected to see a tumbleweed roll across the floor of the Santa Fe, steeped as the bar is in Western décor, including cacti, clay pots and buffalo heads. A giant snake head perches high above the bar. And much like the West, this bar is all about wide-open spaces. “We’re the largest of all the bars around here,” says Geoff Rifkin, Santa Fe’s floor manager. That’s a great asset when close to 500 partying Maryland students heat the place up on busy nights. Geoff says, “The students here go out every single night of the week.” With all that partying, some might have difficulty piecing together memories in the morning. Lucky for them the Santa Fe has a photo booth in the middle of the bar.

Girls at the Bar: Girls clearly outnumber guys inside the bar, much to the delight of the male clientele. “There are so many to choose from, I don’t know where to even start,” asks Greg, a journalism major. “I count my blessings every day.” Whatever your preference, chances are good that you’ll find just the right lady here.

When to Go: Bartenders say that College Night Thursdays — $1 cover, $1.50 Bud drafts and $2.50 Captain Morgan cocktails — are really hopping. Friday nights — $2.50 Coronas and Grey Goose Vodka — also draw a crowd.

Dress Code: Stay away from designer jeans and expensive shoes and relax. Dress too fancy and you’ll stick out like a European tourist.

At the Bar: Bartenders say the female patrons stick with vodka, the males go for draft beer and everyone downs Southern Comfort and tequila shots. For penny-pinching and broke boozehounds, there are specials galore. Check the big white board in the middle of the bar for that night’s offerings.

Hours: Monday, 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Tuesday thru Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m.; closed on Sundays.

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