Top Spots for New Mexican Cuisine in Las Cruces, NM

If you’re planning on visiting the second-largest city in the Land of Enchantment, come with an appetite for chile! The locally-grown delicacy is the staple of the region’s cuisine and the question “Red or Green?” has been recently recognized as officially the state gastronomic catchphrase. There are numerous places to get your chile fix, but the locals recommend three above all others.

Number three on the menu is Roberto’s, who’s almost ascetic-looking dining area is offset by the flavor of the cuisine. A wide variety of New Mexican signature dishes are on the menu, but the leading item is without a doubt the enchilada. This combination of corn tortillas, cheese, and spicy red or green chile sauce is so well-known that the owner (and head chef) of the restaurant has been in charge of cooking up the World’s Biggest Enchilada every fall at the Whole Enchilada Fiesta. Last year’s attempt, which required 750 pounds of stone-ground corn masa and the help of 14 men to carry the massive tortillas, was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest ever. It takes roughly 2-Ã?½ hours to complete.

Other specialties at the restaurant include the sacks of tamales, a masa-and-chile con carne mixture rolled into a steamed corn husk. The dish happens to be a Southwestern Christmas staple (the dish reminds the Mexicans of the swaddling of the Baby Jesus) and is in hot demand near the holidays. If you plan to pick up a sack of these for later consumption (they freeze well), call ahead to make sure they have enough. Quantity sizes are also available for the Spanish rice, refried beans, chile sauce and handmade tortillas.

The Basics:
Name: Roberto’s Mexican Food
Location: 908 E. Amador Ave, Las Cruces, NM
Cost: Low to moderate
Child-friendly: Neutral
Pets Allowed: Service Animals Only

Number two on the list is Nopalito’s, which has two locations, one in the downtown area and another on East Missouri Avenue. Like Roberto’s, the dining areas are plain and unadorned, but the food is spicy and the portions enormous. The top items on the menu include the green chile gorditas, a dish made of chile, beef and potato folded sandwich-like into a soft corn masa shell. Other items to enjoy include the stuffed sopapillas (deep-fried crispy shells stuffed with beans, meat and cheese) and the Chiles rellenos (whole green chile stuffed with cheese, dipped in an egg batter and pan-fried). Among the best as far as prices go, and more than enough to satiate even the biggest appetite.

Nopalito’s recently changed hands, which upgraded both the food and service. Although originally a relatively bland restaurant with little outstanding, the new version combines low prices, mouth-burning chile, and traditional Southwestern service.

The Basics:
Name: Nopalito’s Restaurant
Location: 2506 E Missouri Ave or 310 S. Mesquite St., both in Las Cruces, NM
Cost: Moderate
Child-friendly: Yes
Pets Allowed: Service Animals Only

Top place on this list, however, goes to La Posta, the world-famous restaurant and pillar of Old Mesilla. Housed in a renovated way-station on the old Butterfield Trail, the restaurant is among the oldest in the Mesilla Valley and has spent its time ensuring the best in New Mexican cuisine. The dining area is darkened and feels somehow like a cross between the ancient and the modern; the food is a blast from the 1800’s (and in some cases, even earlier). A full bar operates here, allowing the proper mingling of icy margaritas with the spicy eatables. The enchiladas and rellenos take top billing here, but another good option is the tostadas compuestas, baked corn masa cups filled with beans, rice, beef and cheese.

La Posta has recently gotten some stiff competition from newcomer Si Senor, a restaurant that set up shop on East Lohman. For chips and salsa, Si Senor beats its competitor hands down, but for sheer elegance, overall quantity and quality of food, and whimsical d�©cor ideas (La Posta has a large aviary in its waiting area, for instance), the oldest of the New Mexico places to go still has the edge.

The Basics:
Name: La Posta
Location: 2410 Calle de San Albino
Cost: Moderate
Child-friendly: Yes
Pets Allowed: Service Animals Only

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