Food in Las Cruces, NM (long)
I've been living in Las Cruces for about 4 years, and thought I should finally do a write up on what's good to eat here in case anyone is passing through. Unfortunately, it's a rather short list. Jim Leff's 5 year old summary is pretty much correct: "a veritable chow desert" where a "glimmer of competence is like salvation". (link below)
The upside is that Southern New Mexican cuisine is a distinctive local cuisine that you've probably never experienced unless you've been here before. It's based around chiles (fresh green and dried red), meat (mostly beef and pork), and starch (potatoes and flour tortillas). About the only green things you'll see (other than the ubiquitous chiles) are cilantro, lime, and iceburg lettuce.
The downside of the cuisine is that it's monotonous, and very rarely prepared with any particular love or care. There isn't a lot of subtlety: it burns, it burns! Almost every establishment has an identical menu, and probably purchases their ingredients from the same wholesale provider. Cheese is preshredded, tortillas are store bought, and outside of Lent your chances of finding tasty vegetarian fare are practically nil. And no matter what you order, you'll get the same question: red or green, meaning do you want this smothered in red sauce or green sauce.
This isn't to say that you won't enjoy eating out here on your way through, only that it's the type of food rather than the quality that will be the highlight. Pretty much anywhere you go, they'll have things you can't find anywhere else: stuffed sopa(pillas), gorditas (like sopas but from corn masa), red chile and potato burritos, flat (not rolled) enchiladas, with green chile or red chile sauce smothered on everything. And almost always for reasonable prices: $10 is a pricey entree around here.
The best thing to eat in town is the brisket burrito at Bosa Donuts (190 Avenida de Mesilla at S Main): beef brisket and coleslaw in a flour tortilla. The owner said he got the recipe from someone in Chihuahua, Mexico, so it's not really local but still great. Their donuts are OK, the rest of their burritos aren't as good.
The second best thing to eat in town are the burritos at Go Burger (1008 E Lohman at Espina). Today I had the "Chile Relleno Burrito" and the "Green (pork) and Potatoes Burrito". Their burgers are OK but nothing special, their other New Mexican fare is slightly above average for the town but not great. The combination plate is an accurate sample of the local cuisine. Outdoor seating only, closes early (6:00 I think).
The next best thing in town (and we are already starting to stretch a bit) is the posole at Andale (Avenida de Mesilla in Mesilla). A tasty stew with red chile, pork, and hominy, you doctor it up yourself with lime, onions, and cilantro. Better than the one Jim mentions at Mirador, in my opinion. Their other entrees are fine, but not outstanding. If you are here for the posole, order and enjoy them, but I wouldn't go just for them.
If you want the overall local experience, and are less concerned with the food quality, I'd suggest Roberto's (908 E Amador Ave near Espina). Plastic trays, disposable utensils, very inexpensive, and about as busy at lunchtime as Las Cruces gets. Order anything that catches your eye (say, one red potato sopa and one green meat burrito), or if it seems to complicated just choice one of the combination plates (for example a chile relleno, a flauta, and an enchilada with rice and beans).
If you are looking for a little more upscale (metal utensils and all) Nellies Cafe (1226 W Hadley Ave near Valley Ave) is as good a choice as any. It's a wonderfully friendly place, but I've never really enjoyed their food. But get a combination plate and enjoy the bilingual nature of the conversations around you. They are open for lunch only, and their food is hotter than most.
If you want more upscale, and if you don't mind touristy, La Posta (on the plaza in Mesilla, http://www.laposta-de-mesilla.com) is probably your best choice. Choose any enchilada plate. Their margaritas are pricy but better than most local things.
Oddly, for the best example of the local cuisine, you have to leave Las Cruces and go to the Little Diner in Canutillo, Texas (about 30 minutes south, very hard to find without direction, http://www.littlediner.com/). Same menu as everything in Las Cruces, authentically local and friendly, but the food is prepared with a little more care and attention than the local norm.
People rave about Chopes (Hwy 28 in La Mesa, about 20 min S of Mesilla), but I think that their enjoyment is more due to the pitchers of cheap (in quality and price) margaritas than the quality of the food. It's not that the rellenos are outright bad, it's just that they could be so much better if they used a decent cheese to fill them, fried them at a proper temperature so they weren't as greasy, served them hot, etc. Don't let this discourage you too much: go there and enjoy it, but if you've already eaten a lot of rellenos elsewhere don't expect an epiphany. Regarding an earlier post, I agree it's a dump but I wouldn't be any more hygenically worried about eating there than anywhere else in town.
Pretty much all the other places I've seen mentioned here (Si Senor, Nopalitos, My Brother's Place, El Comedor, etc) are all OK, and while they vary in decor and atmosphere they have pretty much the same food. All decent, none great. Go there and have good time, but don't expect culinary wonders.
There are a couple decent Mexican (instead of New Mexican) places in town. The tacos at Chihuahua's (1750 N Solano Dr near N Main) are particularly good, and they are one of the only places that makes fresh tortillas. They are about the same quality as the Taco Tote chain in El Paso that Jim refers to. Taco Mexicano #2 (1602 S Solano Dr near Missouri) serves good tortas and tacos. Taco Mexicano #1 (1355 N Main St near Picacho) serves about the only seafood in town: their ceviche and cocteles de camarones are quite good.
For other cuisines, there's not much. International Delights has passable Middle Eastern if you don't mind half-cooked falafel. In a pinch, Lorenzo's has edible Italian. Lemon Grass Thai won't hurt you if you stick to the commonly ordered dishes; if you stray from red or green curry your food will likely be prepared by a local high school student who will burn the food to a crisp because he has no idea what the dish is supposed to taste like. All American BBQ (S Valley, next to Walmart) has good smoked brisket and sausage, but unfortunately lousy sauce.
Updates to Jim's article:
Contrary to Jim's guess, the Double Eagle in Mesilla isn't very good, although it isn't clear if this is because they don't know or don't care.
In Deming (1 hr W of Las Cruce) Mirador is better than most options, but isn't great either. The Italian restaurant in Deming is surprisingly good but with awful service. One of the Mexican places downtown isn't bad. And if you are in Deming or passing through, the downtown Deming-Luna Museum (which doesn't serve food) is amazing, and worth a visit if you if you possibly can. Whether you are going for the kitsch (the doll room, the Hispanic Culture room) or the history (the iron lung, the great collection of Mimbres pottery) it will exceed your expectations 10-fold.
In Silver City (1 hr N of Deming) Big Bo y Burritos was indeed fabulous, but has now changed hands several times and when I last checked was no longer in business. As best as I can tell, the rest of the food in Silver City is no real treat.
In El Paso (1 hr S of Las Cruces), Taco Tote, a Juarez based chain, does indeed serve good tacos. Their cheesecake is also quite good, and likely to be different than any other cheesecake you've had: less sweet, fuller textured. There are a few other decent places in El Paso, but this may be mostly in comparison with the lack of places in the rest of the area. I particularly like Pachanga (222 Texas Ave, little or no English spoken). Get the fruit salad with yogurt, honey, and granola and/or a ham, cheese, and pineapple torta.
Thanks for this very good report. My SO interviewed for a job in Las Cruces last year and one of the reasons declined was lack of vegetarian options as she is a fish eating vegetarian. We are frequent visitors to northern New Mexico and she has no trouble eating there but we couldn't say the same for the south. Although the area is rich in the things you mention, there aren't too many options.
We stayed in Las Cruces a few years back while attending the Hatch Chile Festival. The place that blew us away was called El Comedor, the little place in Mesilla that you mention briefly. I'm a bit of a chile-head and this place was AMAZING.
We also went to La Posta and it was good but touristy. The best part of our visit was just driving with the windows down and smelling the chiles being roasted in backyards throughout the city. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I didn't see a lot of diversity there, but if you like New Mexican style cuisine, Las Cruces is brilliant.
Your post stirred up some nostalgia for the frisbee-sized gingerbread pancakes at the Old Mesilla Pastry Cafe. A plate of those with a side of home fries smothered in red chile and cheese was maybe the best breakfast I've ever had. I remember the lunches being not too shabby, either; I had a smoked trout sandwich there that was divine.
I put my Google-Fu to good use and I see the place is now called 'The Shed.' What?! Is it at all the same, or are my fond memories all I have left of those pancakes? *cries*
I found the Old Mesilla Pastry Cafe tasty for breakfast as well. I usually went with the Eggs Benedict (under some fanciful name) and consistently found them a little overpriced but enjoyable. In the spot where it was is another interchangeable New Mexican food place.
I haven't been to The Shed yet. Some friends who did left disappointed, but I don't recall why. I'm not sure if they have the same menu or not. I'll try to go eat there sometime soon and report back.
Thanks very much for the report. I think Southern New Mexico food is one of the great regional cuisines that should be experienced by any chowhounds who can come to the area and do not have a problem with the hot chile. I do not find the food to be burning hot, but if someone has a question they can go to La Posta, where the chile is quite mild (I do not think La Posta has great New Mexican food, though, and I would recommend that people try the "hot stuff").
You are completely right about the monotony of the food. I like it, but it is the lack of other options, especially the lack of other ethnic options, that is really hard to deal with. Lemongrass would at best be considered mediocre in any big city, and I think Mix is even worse. It's too bad that Tatsu closed because it had some pretty good Japanese food, but that is pretty much the story of this area--any ethnic food besides Mexican or New Mexican is either not very good or doesn't last. The only bright spot I see in Las Cruces is the Joy Luck Chinese Restaurant. The tofu with plum sauce is very good as is the chow fun. Joy Luck has the only really good vegetarian food I have found in LC.
A very good Chinese restaurant just opened this year in El Paso called Sam's. I also like Moon Day, especially for the noodle soup and citrus chicken.
Your choices for New Mexican food seem to be meat-centered. I think Andele has some excellent tacos al carbon (better than I've found in El Paso), but their other food is about the same as many other places in the area. I have different choices than you for favorite places, but mine are based around enchiladas and stuffed sopaipillas. Like you I am looking for food prepared with love and care, and very rarely find it.
I have found some places, though, that are above average. Las Trancas is my favorite in Las Cruces--it starts out with warm chips and fresh salsa, and the main items taste freshly prepared. Kiva Patio Cafe also has freshly prepared food, although it is more Mexican (south of the border) style, and not as good an example of Southern NM cuisine. Both of these places have kitchens open to view and seem very clean. Los Mariachis in Mesilla is also very good.
Chope's is my favorite for New Mexico style food, and I think they have the best chiles rellenos in the area hands-down. No one else makes a batter as good, and some places (such as La Posta) use chiles that seem inferior to me. I haven't noticed the cheese at Chope's being either particularly good or bad. I just don't understand, though, why the salsa is not very good--it's better just about anyplace in Las Cruces.
One good thing about El Paso is that it has a greater variety of Mexican food, particularly with seafood and different varieties of tacos and meat dishes such as milanesa. For enchiladas, though, I think just about any restaurant in Las Cruces beats the average restaurant in El Paso. Stuffed sopaipillas cannot be found in El Paso except at a couple of places. I think L&J has the best overall Mexican food in El Paso, but it is very close to the food served in Las Cruces (spicy, with the green chile served in chunks instead of pureed). Little Diner is another "New Mexico style" restaurnt, and I like it also (the green chile tamales are great).
I hope you'll report any new discoveries.
I'll second the recommendation for The Little Diner in Canutillo - best gorditas I've had in a long time.
Also, I finally got to try Chope's in La Mesa, and I *was* blown away by it. BEST "plain" enchiladas I have ever had - just cheese & onion between flat tortillas, topped with an egg. Delicious in that "far more than the sum of its parts" way. I am already looking for some excuse to make the 200 mile drive to eat there again....
In Las Cruces proper, I thought that I had had really good diner food at a place called Dave's - anyone else been there?
re: Miss Tenacity
Welcome to the Chope's fan club! The place rocks SO mightily! Did you have a relleno? If not you need to make the drive and eat nothing but...they are heavenly.
And yes, Dave's is the real deal. Had never tried it and wound up going twice in 2 days my last time in LC. Good burgers and breakfasts.
1st. There is not place called Daves in Las Cruces it is Days, it is at the corner of Water and Las Cruces opened M-F until 7:00pm and it has been there since 1932.
2nd. Real frozen custered can be had a Caliches's, (used to be called Scoopies) at 590 S Valley.
3rd, Real coffee can be had at from Mountain Mud, a little drive through coffee dispenser at 580 S. Valley right next door to Caliche's
4th. The brisket Burrito at BOSA Donuts is almost enough to justify being in Las Cruces. The donuts are good too.
I have eaten at just about every restaurant in Las Cruces. Here are my conclusions: the regional southern New Mexico (border) cuisine is fantastic...but because these restaurants are so predominant down here it can be a little monotonous. There are other options however which I will detail later. The best Mexican New Mexican food is found at Anele, El Comador, Las Trancas, Carrillo's Cafe, and Maria Bonita. Nellie's and Chope's are very good also, but ambiance and crowds deter some people. Si Senor and the "new" Gardunos are the nicest places (to take out of town guests!)for New Mex-Southwestern food, but the food is not necessarily the best or most classically New Mexican. For real authentic Mexican try Chihuahua's, the new El Ranchero (took over Pete's Hacienda), Mi Pueblito and the little Good Luck Cafe. The little La Nueva Casita is good also. In the overrated category and not so good...place Cha Chi's, La Fuente, Roberto's, Los Campos, Napolitos, the very popular Delicia's, the Spanish Kitchen, and the Kiva. El Sombrero, Los Mariachi, and Mariscos Cancun are pretty good..above age. Las Posta appeals to tourists..it is kind of a cool place to go, but the food is uneven..some good, some disappoints.
Other types of food...good dining at Sunset Grill, the Pepper Mill on Roadrunner, Johnny Carino's Italian (very good), Si Italian Bistro (very nice place with good Italian food), The Double Eagle/Peppers in Mesilla is a great place to dine with above average food. The Cattle Baron is a nice place with above average food. I also like the chains Texas Roadhouse and Outback. These are nice places to eat, but there are no premier steakhouses in this town. (And don't even pretend that the typical Western Steakhouses in the West are great places...yuck! They wouldn't know a good steak if they had it in their mouths.)
There are no outstanding Oriental restaurants in Las Cruces. The New Chinese Super Buffet is pretty good for a buffet, and Lemongrass is ok for the area...wouldn't be top notch in a big city. Mix is a decent place, but the food lacks character and often disappoints. The Joy Luck is not run by Chinese but is not bad..service can be a problem when it is busy.
Tiffany's serves outstanding Greek food, the little Casablanca good Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, Lorenzo's Avanti not bad Italian, Dion's has good toasted sandwiches, Bountiful Baking Co is overrated, but they do have good Pizza. International Delights is a disappointment, but a nice place. The Shed is ok, but nothing special. Eddie's Bar and Grill is a nice place with above average food and service. The Mesilla Valley Kitchen has some good food for a casual breakfast-lunch place, but I think it is overpriced. Some of the best Mexican places, of course, are down in El Paso...Barrigas, Los Bandidos, and Kiki's come to mind. State Line BBQ is also a classic in Sunland Park. I plan to try Billy Crews Steakhouse next week...hear it is exceptional.
Of course, opinions will differ over food...but take my word for the above and you can't go far wrong. If you have not had Southern New Mexican cuisine with a real good chile sauce..you are in for a treat. Try green chile on a steak! But, alas, not every restaurant has the same quality of chile. This is especially true when it comes to "red" chile...if in doubt, order Green! Good Luck.
As always, everyone has thier preferences for Mexican and New Mexican food in Las Cruces and these have been covered fairly well with a few other ethnic restaurants thrown in (because there are so few). I would like to weigh in on Jaan's Indian Cuisine Restaurant which has, so far, been ignored in the Las Cruces postings. If you are looking for very good East Indian food for carnivores and vegetarians alike, this is the place for you. I have never been disappointed with the choices made and everyone I know who has eaten at Jaan's has come close to raving. They have an incredible menu with dishes from all regions of India. Service is good and the staff is very helpful. The prices are a little high for Las Cruces but they are having a first year special with 30% off all entries (no coupon needed)which makes it very affordable. Be forwarned-they still do not have a liquor license so there is no beer, wine, alcoholic drinks to be had. Go for the food, you will not be sorry. Jaan's is located just off Telshor across from Sam's club.
This is the style of Mexican food I grew up eating. We hail from El Paso, and when people ask me about the food in El Paso they always use "Tex Mex". I have to correct them, because the food I grew up eating was closer to New Mexican style, with a bit of Tex Mex thrown in for good measure. Lots of green and red chile, corn tortillas(I didn't have a flour tortilla until we moved to Phoenix), red menudo, red posole, not a lot of sloppy cheese stuff.
My mom had me eating flat enchiladas made with red chile sauce(and tomato sauce for my wee pallette) by the time I was three.
I was in Las Cruces in June and I would make the following comments:
1) Andale Restaurant in Mesillas was quite good. The posole was very good. However, the tacos al carbon and very good. The ingredients were very fresh and the tortillas were homemade. The salsa bar was very interesting and flavor filled. We really liked the service which was friendly and accommodating. Prices were very reasonable.
2) We also really liked the farmer's market on Saturday. First, there were a lot of vendors serving a wide variety of food which was good. We were surprised at the quality of the art work for sale. It was much more folk art. Also, unlike many farmer's market, the produce was reasonably priced.
About the Farmer's Market, great place to get produce and also open Wednesday mornings from 8:00 to about noon, though the Saturday market has more vendors. It's in the downtown mall where Main Street splits into Water and Chruch streets.
A restaurant not mentioned, Heiberts Fine Foods. Fine Foods is kind of an overstatement, but it's a good reasonably priced option. Food is pretty American with a little Mexican thrown in. Burgers, ____salad sandwiches, a few mexican combination plates, but the best is their specialty of the house, steak fingers. Served with cream gravy, brown gravy, or drenched in chili (mild) con queso, they're delicious. Hieberts is on the corner of Solono and Madrid, just before Solono crosses Main going north.
This is the Field Marshall.....sorry, the reply above mentioned Jaan's and made me realize I had for forgotten it. Jaan's is a very nice restaurant with terrific food from the sub-continent of India. It is truly one of the best restaurants in the Las Cruces area. It should definately not be missed. Don't be intimidated because you are not familiar with the terms...the servers are very helpful. Prepare for a wonderful dining experience and flavors you have never experienced. I have eaten at perhaps a dozen Indian restaurants around the USA and Jann's had the best food!!!
Sorry to report that Jaan's has closed its doors. Goes to show LC is not a town that supports diversity in ethnic foods. On a recent Saturday night we tried the new Indian restaurant Taste of India on University (it replaced the Phoencian Restaurant in the strip mall across from NMSU. It is OK and I'm glad we still have an Indian restaurant in town but it is not as good as Jaans. SI has really decent Italian, Casablanca (across from the High School on El Paseo) has some good Lebanese dishes but is very inconsistant and you often end up sides other than what you ordered. When we have guests visit from out of state we head for Nellie's for top notch SW Mexican first thing for breakfast then try to catch a lunch as well (they have changed their hours and now close at 2pm and still no dinner hours!)I save my cravings for sushi, Thai, and Vietnamese for when I travel. Is anyone out there with recommendations?
I realize this is old, but I just signed up. I just moved to Albuquerque from Las Cruces and I miss that food! I'm originally from the South East, so Cruces was WAY different than anything I was used to, and I fell in love with it. It may seem like it at first, but with experience, you realize that all those greasy-spoon Mexican places are different. The best just depends on what you're in the mood for. If you want super-duper-make-your-future-offspring-cry hot chili, the drive to Chope's is worth it. If you want stuffed sopapillas or the best fajitas in town, it's all about El Sombrero (or The Hat, as I refer to it) down the street from the bowling alley. If you like red chile, there's a place on Solano that has a good red sauce- and I don't even like red sauce. The name escapes me, but it has a pretty entry way (which is why we tried it in the first place). If you want delivery, Chachi's on Locust is yummy, too. It's good stuff!
Also, I lived there for, oh.... six years? and only made it to the Double Eagle once, and it was fabulous! That was the night my fiance proposed. I understand it's under new management, but MAN was it expensive! But worth it, I must say.
The Mix on University is the best (and possibly only) for sushi.
Well, to wrap it up, Cruces restaurants may seem like clones, but they really aren't. And once you leave, you'll miss it. Because, up here, there's really not places like those because everybody is trying so hard to be different to get more attention. But you just can't beat $10 meals with a free appetizer, and frequently free desserts (sopapillas).
P.S. El Taco on Solano has the most awesome burritos you will ever put in your mouth! Once you get past the yuck factor (cheek meat?) they really are the best- soft, fluffy tortillas, flavorful meat, whole big bar of fixin's.... but they only accept cash, so if you go, be prepared for that.
Have you tried the St. Claire Bistro on Avenida de Mesilla in the Las Cruces/Mesilla area? Awesome food, prepared with the wines from the St. Claire Winery in Deming (AKA New Mexico Wines). Not too pricey, and you've got to have a wine flight and then for dessert, the bread pudding. Best around!
The Grand Canyon is awesome, St. Claire Bistro is solid, almost pub like fare, above average for Las Cruces but not awesome. And, for a place that features their own wines the price is expensive considering the small amount of wine in the single glass portion; go ahead and order a full bottle and have it corked to take home if you don't want to finish the whole thing. The bread pudding is the best.
RE: The downside of the cuisine is that it's monotonous, and very rarely prepared with any particular love or care. There isn't a lot of subtlety: it burns, it burns! Almost every establishment has an identical menu, and probably purchases their ingredients from the same wholesale provider. Cheese is preshredded, tortillas are store bought, and outside of Lent your chances of finding tasty vegetarian fare are practically nil. And no matter what you order, you'll get the same question: red or green, meaning do you want this smothered in red sauce or green sauce.
I've lived here my entire life, you're introduction paragraph is totally off and shows you don't know a thing about REAL Mexican Food. Sorry, but it's way off base.
We stopped at Bosa donuts on our way out of Las Cruces since it was recommended above and the fact my semi vegetarian friend (who lives in Cruces) thinks the sign is funny. "Bosa Donuts: Donuts and Burritos" I admit it, it is an interesting combination, but after going there it makes a lot of sense. The Brisket burrito was excellent and the donuts where simple but really good! The kids and wife loved 'em. Went good with the whole Leche.
We also enjoyed Andele, great shrimp tacos and salsa.
A diamond in the rough (in a strip mall) was found at "Mix" where the sushi was perfect and the pecan crusted pork was delicious.
These 3 spots make Cruces worth the stop. Just make sure to skip the coffee and try to avoid the plentiful styrofoam.
Are you kidding me! You've lived in Las Cruces for four years.... and that makes you an expert? Sorry guy, the places that you listed as great places to eat were ALL fast food places. No wonder why you didn't get fresh tortillas. I have lived in 'cruces 15 years, in New Mexico for a total of 30. Your favorite meal was a burrito at a donut shop (by the way, I've had it... - puke- plus, this place was found to have some crawlies recently). And a burrito at a hamburger joint. You consider La Postaand Nellie's "upscale"? Where is your favorite steak, McDonald's.
First of all, the regional food here is not "monotonous". Sure, if all you eat is burritos. There's more to life than burritos dude. Each restaurant has their specialty. La Posta, Enriques, Los Compas, Chihuahuas (now defunct), and hundreds of other local restaurants ALL make their tortillas fresh. In other words the majority of restaurants. Si Senor, I am not sure about. The best burritos around - you will find at Los Compas, red, green, whichever. Enriques on Picacho also makes good burritos. But these aren't your gringo eastern US palatable lightweight burritos. They are HOT! Si Senor has decent chile rellenos, ok enchiladas. And the best salsas in town. Each table is served red salsa, green salsa, a sour cream salsa and a very very mild gringo bean mix. Los Compas has the best enchiladas - again, red or green are both great. With Enriques a close second. Los Compas is also a great place for breakfast with choices of breakfast burritos, or a great breakfast deal with bacon, eggs, hashbrowns with tortilla and salsa, and coffee for a real decent price (like under $5). La Posta IS very touristy, but it is just about the best all around. And probably the best chile rellenos.
People who find the cuisine in Las Cruces as monotonous seem to like the fufu food of Northern NM. Mexican... er, New Mexican food, is New Mexican food. We prepare it the same way that we have for generations. There have been some fufu restaurants come... and were quickly gone (ala.. the Pepper Mill). Because the people here are rich in tradition. Maybe if the city got larger... say over 100,000... or 150,000... but right now, there are too many natives to turn to fufu food. tortillas are tortillas..and everyone makes them basically the same. Sorry, if that is monotonous to you. I moved here primarily for the food... and I stay here, primarily for the food. You can't get it anywhere else like this. This is the chile capital of the world. What place could be better. Overall, however, Las Cruces hasn't had too many restaurants... we are growing rapidly and the options are expanding. See recomendations below
Upscale? Well, if one exists, that would be Peppers, which is actually a downscaled New Mexican food version of the Double Eagle (which is more of a steakhouse). There really is no "upscale" mexican restuarant in Las Cruces. In fact, I have not seen an "upscale" mexican restaurant anywhere... not even Santa Fe. Upscale is what I consider, not a place for blue jeans or shorts, ok.
I'm not an expert because I have not eaten at every restaurant in town. But these are the best I have found in my 15 years here. Go Burger.... Bosa Donuts... for mexican food and fresh tortillas... come on....you need to stick to blogging on your own site dude, not here where people will actually read it... and maybe believe it.
BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS:
WORST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS
Ciros (out of El Paso, Texas, need I say more)
Nellies (very popular, very crowded, very overrated)
SI Italian Bistro
Lorenzos De Mesilla (not to be confused with the other "Lorenzos")
A Tast of India
GOOD FUN PLACES TO EAT WITH INTERESTING MENUS AND TASTY FOOD
You should hardly be commenting on others' restaurant choices if you think the food at Si Senor or La Posta is good or authentic mexican. Better than those are El Sombrero and Chilitos. There is no good Chinese food in this town whatsoever, and the two Italian places you've noticed are crappy as can be, but you didn't mention Savino's, which actually has GOOD Italian food. I notice you didn't mention Mix or Aqua Reef either.
I hope you have a day job other than reviewing restaurants.
Excuse me, I never said that Si Senor or La Posta had authentic Mexican food. Good, yes. Authentic New Mexican, yes. Chilitos and El Sombrero are like taco bell. Savino's, are you kidding me it tasted like Chef Boy Ardee. I didn't mention Mix or Aqua Reef because I have never been there. I stated that I have not been to ALL restaurants. Chinese Buffet used to be good, and Dynasty used to be decent. Now, as of Dec. 2008, there are no decent chinese restaurants here. I think you need to go wash your mouth out with soap and vinegar and or something, La Gordita, cus, man.... your taste buds are screaming for you to clean them. I hope you don't work in a restaurant, cus surely with taste buds like that, you're no cook.
Interesting post Jalcruces, but I must offer a few comments. Los Campas is an interesting place that serves authentic New Mexican food. I like the restaurant, but rate it fifteenth on my scale of Mexican restaurants in Las Cruces. (But out of fifty or more that's not bad.)This is because I have found the food less than exceptional. It is good, but not "that" good. The chile sauces are ok. It is a decent place and the price is right. A lot of locals eat there who do not want to go across the street to the more upscale Si Senor with its slightly higher prices and tipping. Enriques makes the top twenty. It is ok also. Ambiance is ok in this smallish cafe and the food is good. Si Senor is the number one rated Mexican restaurant in Las Cruces because of its overall ambiance. service, and the high quality of the food. However, they do not have many exceptional dishes...although the Akela Chicken can be very good. Red sopapillas also are delicious. La Posta is worth a visit, but one does usually not eat there regularly...the food can be very mediocre and it is touristy. I agree with you about Go Burger. Their burritos are huge, but I have found on several occasions that the ingredients were old and had been sitting around awhile. This is essentially a takeout joint besides. Mi Pueblito has some good carne adovada, but their quality overall can be shaky. Nellie's is a dump. despite their crowds, and the food is clearly the most overrated in the city. Forgetaboutit! For non-Mexican cuisine Si Bistro is nice. One should really try the St. Claire Bistro...pretty nice with good food. Also, Give Los Mariachi's a try. Most of the food is real good. Andele (especially good is the pork tacos al carbon) and El Comedor are top ten places. I like Cha Chi's, but their chile sauces are not so good. Carne adovada tacos are good and their al pastor tacos are wonderful. Chilito's had very good Steak Tampiquenia and their chile sauces are excellent...the green has lots of chunks of real chile peppers in it. There is a new fast-food type of restaurant in town, Fidencio's. It is right next to the Cattle Baron. They serve real traditional Mexican food. Good prices. Try the Asada Tacos and the Carnitas Tacos. The best traditional Mexican restaurant is, of course, Beltran's. Try their pork and chicken parrilladas and a torta with pork al pastor, milanesa, or asada...all tremendous! Farley's is good fun, but the food is a little ??? Ciros is subpar. There are no good Chinese restaurants in Las Cruces...that is true as another poster said! Remember also, that every restaurant has its limitations. Some have better this and others have better that. Such is life.
I've only been in Las Cruces twice, briefly, but I have fond memories of the Organ Mountain Cafe (in the little town of Organ, in the foothills east of Las Cruces), La Posta in Mesilla, and the High Desert Brewing Company.
Sadly, the Organ Mountain Cafe appears to have closed its doors. HDBC makes excellent beers, burgers, quesadillas and other things, and has remarkable live music twice a week. The place was packed when I was there. La Posta has been well described here already; I'd say it is very good but not quite phenomenal.
despite warnings to the contrary, we went to la posta last night (for two reasons, 1) it was after 9, and other places we wanted to visit were closed; 2) it was very close to the best western where we were spending the night), and it wasn't bad. it did remind us of the touristy places in old town san diego, but our main courses of la posta chica and combination #1 had some good features...well, actually it was the empanada and ice cream that came with la posta chica that made our night. the red chile con carne, folded taco and the red enchilada were pretty good, though. if other options are available next time, we'll try them, but for the lateness of the hour we could have done a lot worse.
In the 40 odd years I've lived in or regularly eaten LC cuisine, I've pretty much agreed with and disagreed with everything thus far posted. Over the years, the place that has consistently stood out as the most consistent and down right fun is definitely Chope's. Where else can you get a 40 oz. of beer to go along with some of the best regional cuisine anywhere? One place I did not see mentioned that locals really, really respect is the Ranchway on Valley Drive. The Rodriguez family has been operating it for generations and it is one of the funkiest little places you'll ever eat, featuring a combination of very respectable local Mexican food and BBQ. The links burrito is a real treat. As far as the NM cuisine, definitely try the green plate or the green enchiladas. They're really good. Nonetheless, if you are an out of towner wanting to try something authentically NM and have a little extra time, head down highway 28 to La Mesa and try Chope's. People who grew up in LC generally (not universally) consider it the best and you'll know why when you eat there. One tip, come in late summer (August and September) when the chile's being harvested. The entire town is fueled by that intoxicating annual ritual and the food is simply off the hook when the chile's fresh. Enjoy and, of course, GO AGGIES!!!
I'm planning a trip on I-10 and I've been reading this thread for some ideas.
Since you only posted once, you may never read this, however I wanted to thank you for your mention of Ranchway. The links burrito intrigued me so I googled for more info. That led me to finding restaurant reviews in the Las Cruses Sun-News
It has reviews of lots of the places mentioned in this thread along with hours and websites, if any.
FWIW, a new bbq joint opened in late 2008, The Rib Cage
For anyone who may still be looking for something different in town, this is an article about Renee's Place having a German night on Fridays. At least they did last year.
i am surprised no one had mentioned THE ADOBE DELI in deming. it's a fun
place with good food. it is a reusified schoolhouse, with the bar & dining room
in the old gym. i have eaten there many times on my way from arizona to
louisiana on I-10. a meal not to be missed is the rib-eye with a crock of onion
soup for about $20. the owner is the chef, & that's always good. i understand
the beef is hand cut from steers raised to his specs. O, and the onion soup!!
a light broth laced with the local wine, chock full of sweet onions, and topped
with a melting of cheese an inch thick.
it's a bit hard to find. about 13-14 miles east of deming on rt. 549 is lewis flats rd.
you want to go south on this road a few miles to the restaurant. the bar is open
in the afternoon, but dinner isn't til 6PM. closed sunday.
Thanks. I was curious about that onion soup. Do you know if the bar serves food until closing (bar Mon-Sat 2-2am Sunday 2-midnight). It might make for a good option if I pass through there late at night. I thought 'roadkill rabbit' was cute. Is it any good?
Reusified ... hey ... are you Geroge Bush?
We have relatives in Cruces that we've been visiting from time to time over the last 5 years, and Jim's original post holds up amazingly well even 4-5 years on. But yesterday we went to lunch to a place which is relatively new about 45 minutes south, in La Union, that was outstanding: La Union Station Restaurant (they do have a website). We aren't from the area, so we do enjoy the local cuisine when it's well executed -- and this was outstanding. Family says that the Sunday buffet is the preferred option, but the buffet lunch yesterday was great: Pozole, enchiladas, and sauces generally were wonderful, with great chile flavor but not overwhelming heat. My favortite was the Eggplant Veracruzana -- fantastic southwestern version of eggplant parm. Hopefully this place is here to stay; we'll be back!
Okay. I know this thread is old, but because it comes up in searches and people review old threads for suggestions, I have to put in my two cents.
I lived in Las Cruces, NM and Mesilla, NM for 15 years and still have lots of family there so visit often.
Things you cannot miss - Get a sopapilla (La Posta and Roberto's are good choices for this). What other people in other places call sopapillas are NOT sopapillas!
Hatch green chile - if you hit this town at the right time of the year, you cannot pass a grocery store without the smell of roasting chiles delighting your pallate (and burning your nose and eyes). There are few places you go in Cruces/Mesilla that do not have green chile as an option on burgers and such.
Old Mesilla specific
La Posta - Mexican - Pretty good food, excellent prices, nice atmosphere. Yes, it is touristy, but locals still go here because the food, price, and service are excellent.
Lorenzo's (see Cruces/Mesilla) - Italian
El Comedor - Mexican - Nothing fancy to look at once you get inside, but the best fajitas in town. Good food, decent price. If it's cold out, do not sit in the first room.
Double Eagle - Mexican/Steak - excellent atmosphere and service, decent food, over-priced. It's a tourist trap with local architecture and a ghost story. La Posta (a different kind of touristy) is better food at a better price.
Mesilla Valley Kitchen - Southwest/Mexican - breakfast and lunch only. FAVORITE ALL TIME RESTAURANT. They have Mexican breakfasts like Huevos Rancheros, old stand bys done very well like guacamole burgers, and unique things like their amazing biscuits (Thursdays only) and their lunch quesadilla.
Lorenzo's - Italian - Good food and a nicer atmosphere than most of Las Cruces eateries. There are two main locations (University and in Old Mesilla) and at one time there was a cafe version for lunch but I'm not sure if it's still open. Their bread is fresh made daily and divine and I cannot get enough of their salads.
Sonic - The chain was started in Las Cruces and the owners still live there. Excellent fast food and good prices with a variety in their menu you would not expect (especially if you are a West Coaster and here this equated to In-and-Out).
Caliche's (formerly known as Scoopy's) - Amazing ice cream shop.
Farley's - American/Southwest - One of those "throw your peanut shells on the floor" kind of funky sports bar feeling places. Owned by the same folks who have Cattle Baron (see below), but it is not a chain despite the level of interior design that might make you think so. They have pool tables and juke box and trivia. But the highlight is the food. Happy hour has great appetizers like green chile wontons. The Turkey Jack (green chile turkey sandwich) is my favorite. My brother favors the Cobb Salad. My father loves the pasole (traditional Mexican soup). They also have an surprisingly excellent tequila list.
Cattle Baron - Steakhouse - The place you take a first date you want to impress in this town. It is by no means a five star establishment, but they have decent food and an excellent happy hour even if it is a little pricey and nothing really special.
Dick's Cafe - If you want a heart attack inducing burger and fries (and who doesn't on occasion) this is the perfect place for it.
Roberto's - Makers of the Guiness Book of World Records largest enchilada (on an annual basis at the October Whole Enchilada Festival), the look and feel is of a fast food chain, but this one-of-a-kind restaurant is good cheap, fast Mexican eats. They make all their own tortillas and chips and are the default catering for most get togethers in the area (including weddings). Family owned and operated.
International Delights - International - An eclectic international foods grocer with a cafe. Excellent desserts.
Smokehouse BBQ - This place is attached to auction barn and there's not much else near it, but it is right off the highway. The auctioneer decided there was no good brisket in town and so opened up a restaurant so his wife could make him some. And it is good.
Little Nellie's - This place is fantastic. Best chile relleno I've ever had. They are family run so often closed around major holidays and only open for lunch. If you go at noon on any day, expect a wait. The place is clean, but nothing fancy. AMAZING food. You will not stumble across this place as it is off a non-major street, but it's worth tracking down. Good price.
Ranchway BBQ - Mexican food and BBQ. Queso Fundido is a delicious appetizer. The brisket sandwich is delicious. Family operated so open for lunch only, often closed around holidays. Good price.
Si Senor - Mexican - This place as the feel of a resort - artificial ambiance and somewhat sterile feeling, but the food is decent. It's more expensive than some of the other great Mexican, but you will have a good meal in a restaurant nice enough to take a first date, but not so nice you have to wear a tie.
Chilito's - Mexican - good food at a good price, but kind of out of the way.
the Farmer's market - Every Saturday in the downtown mall, delcious baked goods, kettle corn, wheat grass, lemonade, and who knows what else.
I agree about Chope's - I don't get the fascination with the place. Not very good. I also have not been fond of Andale's in the past, but I'm in the minority on that one. Apparently there is a new location that is better all around.
3640 E Fry Blvd, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
Mesilla Valley Kitchen
2001 E Lohman Ave Ste 102, Las Cruces, NM 88001
2355 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046
790 S Telshor Blvd, Las Cruces, NM 88011
International Delights Cafe
1245 El Paseo Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88001
3920 W Picacho Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88007
2405 S Valley Dr, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Farley's Bar & Grill
3499 Foothills Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88011
1226 W Hadley Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Roberto's Mexican Food
908 E Amador Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88001
Ranchway Llc Bbq & Mexican Food
604 N Valley Dr, Las Cruces, NM 88005
Caliche's Frozen Custard
590 S Valley Dr, Las Cruces, NM 88005
La Posta Restaurant
2410 Calle De San Albino, Mesilla, NM 88046
Lorenzo's Italian Restaurant
1750 Calle De Mercado, Las Cruces, NM 88005
2305 S Valley Dr, Las Cruces, NM 88005
El Comedor Restaurant
2190 Avenida De Mesilla, Las Cruces, NM 88001
Thanks for the report! I was in LC for my first ever visit about six weeks ago, and this is what I've got to say:
Chope's: contrary to kittimeow, I believe this place fully lived up to its monumental billing. I had the green chili stuffed sopaipillas and they were marvelous. My wife had the tamales, which I sampled, and they were the best I've ever had. They were topped with a ranchera sauce unlike any I've encountered before. It was lean and refined, and I suspect they used a powdered chile (NM red? Guajillo?) rather than a chili powder. Simply superb. Loved the place so much I bought a tee shirt.
Cafe Espana in Hotel Encanto: What a find this was! If you're looking for fine dining in LC I've got to think this is the place to go. The bartender is a grand chap who knows his stuff. And the food is something special. I had the Steak Espana (NY strip topped with roasted green chile, onions, mushrooms and oregano) which was very good and the roasted poblano and corn chowder, which was one of the best soups I've ever tried. My better half had jalapoppers as an appetizer, and I kid you not, they were sublime--small jalapeno halves filled with queso anejo, cream cheese, cheddar and Mexican oregano, wrapped with very thin bacon and then broiled to perfection. The chef has taken jalapoppers to a level I didn't think possible. In short, if you're in LC you need to try this place. The hote is exceptional, too.
First, "true Mexican" versus New Mexican is not an arguement I'm going to have here. But I would like to point out that tacos and burritos are not really "true Mexican."
Second, where to eat in Cruces depends on WHAT you want to eat and HOW you want to eat. Will you find five star fine dining by amazing celebrity chefs? No. You want a really tasty tostada compuesta? Nellie's, but expect a wait. Queso Fundido? Ranchway. Cinnamon and sugar sopapillas? Si Senor. Pasole or green chile wontons? Farley's. Southwestern lunch quesadilla? Mesilla Valley Kitchen.
It is also a function of how you want to eat. Are you looking for a cool "ethnic" ambiance? La Posta. Are you looking for "old money" upscale feel to impress a date or a client? Double Eagle. A nice romantic atmosphere? Lorenzo's - the Mesilla location. Out for drinks with friends? Farley's. Modern bar? Hotel Encanta (used to be the Hilton).
The better restaurants/cafes for overall flavor, value, and service:
Mesilla Valley Kitchen
Lorenzo's (better ambiance at the Mesilla location)
Nellie's (super busy and ambiance is clean, but not really nice)
La Posta (don't order the super bland queso dip)
Double Eagle (over-priced, but nice and some of their food is the most upscale you can get in the town)
Farley's (great for casual lunch and do NOT miss their happy hour)
Caliche's ice cream
Sonic Drive-in (they had vanilla dr. pepper years before they put it in a can - half price drinks from 2-4, tastiest fast food you can get and it originated here in Cruces)
Peter Piper Pizza - very cheap cardboard like greasy pizza and arcade games!
Si Senor - nicer restaurant, same old mexican food. some people perfer their cinnamon/sugar sopapillas
Roberto's - Fast food, but familiy owned and run with authentic ingredients. They make all their own chips, tortillas, etc. They are one of the default catering joints in Cruces.
Cattle Baron - the best bits on their menu are also on Farley's, but they cost more and the interior decor is oddly matched and kind of old school "country club" feel
Chope's - college kids love it for its cheapness and cheapness - it's more fond memories than good food
Mesilla Valley Kitchen
2001 E Lohman Ave Ste 102, Las Cruces, NM 88001
2355 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM 88046
790 S Telshor Blvd, Las Cruces, NM 88011
Si Senor Restaurant
1480 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM 88310
La Posta Restaurant
2410 Calle De San Albino, Mesilla, NM 88046
Great informative post ... ok, not going to get into the taco/burrito discussion either, but I worked a year and traveled in Mexico and tacos and burritos are Mexican ... just different than what is in the US. Here's a post with a link to a Mexican video about basket tacos.