We arrived in Mesilla just in time for lunch, so as soon as we had parked the car we headed for the Plaza and started to check out the options. There were quite a few places to choose from but some only seemed to offer more substantial meals than we like at this time of day. But Emilia’s looked promising, with several salads and sandwiches on the menu. There were also tables available in the pretty little paved area at the front, and the chance to have lunch outside on our last day sealed the deal!
Favorite Dish: Our friendly waiter brought chips and salsa to accompany our fruit juices – so much for the light meal! Chris had ordered a salad with chicken and bacon (which was good), while I had the avocado and Swiss cheese sandwich which came with a small side salad. I found my sandwich a little dull (too much lettuce, too little cheese and avocado) but the blue cheese dressing that came with my salad was excellent and also served to brighten up the sandwich. The bill was a very reasonable $15 – good value in such a touristy spot.
By the way, when we passed by later that evening they appeared to have live music and the place looked to be busy and lively. It could be a good choice for a reasonably priced dinner perhaps.
We were keen to find somewhere nice in Mesilla for our final meal of the trip, and at first tried La Posta which gets good reviews. But not only would we have had to wait for a table, we were also put off by the rather over-touristy, over-gimicky décor, and I objected to the caged birds in the entrance area (cruel and unnecessary – what’s New Mexican about macaws?) So we looked elsewhere. The equally-historic Double Eagle seemed to be more expensive and fancier than we usually look for in a holiday meal (special occasions excepted) but then I remembered reading that it had a cheaper more informal section, so we went to check that out. The menu for this part, Peppers, wasn’t posted outside but as soon as we went in and asked to see it, our decision was made – and what a good one it turned out to be!
Peppers may be the cheaper end of the Double Eagle, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. The tables are set out in an atrium area with lush plants and plenty of dark wood, in keeping with the décor elsewhere in the building. The rather small but very attractive bar opens off one side and was lively with drinkers, while the restaurant area was busy enough with both locals and tourists to make us feel comfortable but not crowded. Our waiter was friendly (and patience personified with the moaning group on the next-door table, who twice changed their order while claiming it was his error!)
The menu was extensive, and while the steaks were perhaps a little pricey, the rest lived up to the “good value” billing. Our total bill was just under $60, including the four drinks, service and tax. While not cheap, this was, we felt, a very good price to pay for a delicious meal in a lovely historic setting and with attentive service. A great way to round off our trip!
Favorite Dish: Starters here are a New Mexican take on tapas, and a selection of these would make a great lunch. But we decided sharing just one would be enough, given the usual size of portions around here. So we opted for the “Green Chile Cheese Wontons with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa” which were delicious, especially the unusual but very successful salsa. My only complaint is that there were five of them – either four or six would make sharing easier! We also had a complimentary serving of chips and salsa, as we had had almost everywhere we had been, and the salsa was great too.
For my main course I chose the Carne Asada Tacos. The beef was excellent – very juicy and with a good amount of spicy heat. There were so many accompaniments that I’ve had to cut and paste from the menu on the website:
“Grilled, marinated and seasoned beef morsels with sweet onions, three soft corn tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, tomato and crumbles of Chihuahua style queso fresco cheese. Choice of Black Beans or Refried.”
Chris meanwhile opted for the simple Old-fashioned Burger, which he also enjoyed. He had a couple of beers – one with the meal and one for desert! I did likewise but with margaritas ;-) My first choice was the house margarita, which was fine but nothing special. For my second I took our waiter’s advice and ordered a “Traditional”. He was right – it was well worth the extra $1 it cost, as it was stronger, made with freshly-squeezed lime juice, and was strained into a martini glass rather than being served on the rocks, meaning that it retained its full flavour right to the last drop!
When travelling in the US I am always on the lookout for a good cup of coffee, especially at breakfast time. I spotted The Bean in our Moon New Mexico Handbook and was pleased to see that it was just down the road from our accommodation at the Meson de Mesilla. It sounded like just our sort of place, and it proved to be exactly that – warm (it was a chilly morning), friendly and inviting, with excellent coffee and great baked goods. They roast and grind their own beans too, so there was a wonderful smell lingering about the place. And on a Saturday morning it was very busy with a steady stream of locals – some getting take-out but many obviously using it as their regular Saturday morning hang-out.
I found the following on the Bean’s website, which I think sums up the place as we found it to be:
” Do small businesses like the Bean have a future? Do neighborhoods and friends still need a place to meet that is unique and individual? Does taking time to make things with care still matter? We think so, and we are glad our customers seem to think so too.”
The building that houses the Bean is an old gas station. It isn’t fancy but it’s nicely decorated with modern art and has lots of character. There’s a small dining area in front of the service counter, where we managed to get a good table, and a larger one to the side, which seemed to us to have a bit less cozy an atmosphere. There are also a few tables outside, but it was a very chilly October morning – Mesilla is quite high above sea level, so nights are pretty nippy here by this time in the year!
Prices are reasonable – our two mugs of coffee and two large muffins cost $11. We would have loved to have lingered over a second cup but sadly we had a plane to catch ...
This is my last tip; if you wish you can return to my Intro page.
This building is the only intact stop along the Butterfield Stage Route. It now houses La Posta de Mesilla. If you can only go to one restaurant in town, go here. They have great steaks and Mexican food and the best selection of Margaritas and Tequila around. Hours: 11:00-9:00 Tue. - Thurs., Sun.; 11:00-9:30 Fri. and Sat. Open Mondays during Summer. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Favorite Dish: Try the Combo Platter #1 or the Banquette Elegante
The building housing El Patio Cantina has been around since the mid-1800s. It has been a cantina run by the descendants of A. J. Fountain since 1934. Previously the building housed offices for the Butterfield Stage Line and various newspapers. Today it is a very popular spot in Mesilla serving good food and hosting live music. Hours are 2 PM to 11 PM Sunday through Wednesday and 2 PM to 2 AM Thursday through Saturday.
Favorite Dish: I did not eat here; just looked inside. I opted for La Posta de Mesilla instead.
Red Mountain Cafe
1120 Commerce Dr # A
Las Cruces, NM 88011
Stepping into the Red Mountain Cafe, nestled in Las Cruces with view of the mountains, I thought I was stepping into a wine bar or classy restaurant. At this coffee shop, you don't go up to order at the counter, they serve you at the table and apparently has quite a great array of breakfast, lunch, or dinner fares to satiate your palate. Free wi-fi service for the laptop user, you just have to get the network key from the waittress. Good chai ... that's all I got, but the experience was good. Rating: 4 stars out of 5. Visited 9/16/05.
Favorite Dish: the chai
Authentic Mexican Food in Historic Old Mesilla
2184 Avenida de Mesilla
We went through the hidden passage to the back patio courtyard for some lunch. Good assortment of salsas to go with our chips, I ordered a margarita - but it was different than the average margarita - not made with tequila, but rather agave wine. It was tasty nonetheless. Dining on the taco platter - I was amazed and content with what was brought to me. Pecan ice cream and yummy honey filled sopapillas made me a happy camper. Rating: 4 stars out of 5. (visited 9/5/05)
Favorite Dish: The Taco Platter, the Sopapillas, the pecan ice cream
The Bean Espresso Bar and Bakery
2011 Ave de Mesilla
Old Mesilla, New Mexico
An artsy southwestern brick n' tin two customer room joint with outdoor patio tables n' chairs, this local joint is a great hangout with sandwiches, wraps, a really yummy breakfast, and an assortment of coffees, chai, teas, and Italian sodas. Free wireless internet service will entice the laptop users. Poetry readings and artistic gatherings some evenings. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 9/15/05.
Favorite Dish: The Chai