The Palace Saloon is the best surviving representation of the era and atmosphere in which the infamous La Doña Tules held court, and both the powerful and proletariat came to play.

There are many stories, truths, half-truths and myths about the powerful and inspirational Doña Maria Gertrudis Barceló, called “La Doña Tules” (tules can refer to a woman’s sheer veil, or a thin reed which could have described her willowy frame). What is certain is that she ran a very successful gambling establishment (and, perhaps, offered more intimate diversions upstairs) on or near the site of The Palace during the 1840s and early 1850s. La Doña personally presided over late night hands of Spanish Monte and her clients came from every walk of life. She is said to have had close ties to Manuel Armillo, the last governor of New Mexico under the Mexican Republic, and Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy.

La Doña was a fiercely independent woman, unusual for the time. She controlled her property and wealth directly without the encumbrance of a husband or guardian. As one of the wealthiest people in Santa Fe, it is said she helped finance the Archbishop and the incoming army garrison.

No photo or painting of La Doña exists. Some parts of the historical record describe her as plain in appearance while others describe her as handsome. We have imagined her as a beauty who could turn the head of governors, garrison commanders and archbishops.

Mystique and history seep from the flocked wallpaper and deep walnut of the Saloon. It’s the right spot for quick, affordable-but-inventive small plates and for exploring the creative cocktail list, the full bar, or the carefully selected wine list while you ponder the legend of La Doña Tules among good friends and intriguing strangers.