Los Mariachis–Las Cruces, NM

Los Mariachis
754 N. Motel Blvd.
Las Cruces, NM
(575) 523-7058
Los Mariachis

Los Mariachis


Los Mariachis in Las Cruces could also be called the Roving Mariachis, having moved from its original location in Mesilla to the west side of Las Cruces.  The distance moved was only two or three miles, but after eating at the new restaurant I suspected some other changes had occurred, such as changes to the menu. I decided it would be best to start over with a new review and appraisal of the food, although what I tried was influenced by what I liked best at the old restaurant.

The restaurant entrance

Los Mariachis entrance

Los Mariachis’ modern building is more spacious than at the old restaurant, and the large parking lot (contrasted to the very constrained parking at the old restaurant) probably explains the reason for the move. I think its popularity in Mesilla allowed the owners to open a larger restaurant, and its current popularity is evident by the reviews I read on the Internet.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The excellent chips and salsa are one feature that has been carried over from the old restaurant. I rate the Salsa as among the best in Las Cruces, and the Chips equally (although this is not as important as the salsa being good). The salsa had a good flavor and a good spice (“good” being defined as definitely there but not so overwhelming that it numbed my tongue so that I could not taste the flavors).

Stuffed Sopapillas

Stuffed sopapillas

Stuffed sopapillas

Stuffed Sopapillas are an item I frequently order in New Mexico because of the fact that it is almost non-existent in El Paso. Previously I had thought the ones here were some of the best in Las Cruces. After some additional experimentation I still feel this way, but with some qualifications.

The stuffed sopapillas shown in the above photo not only had different toppings but also different fillings (on the Stuffed Sopapillas plate you have several choices, and the two on the plate can be different as mine were).

The one in front had shredded beef with green chile on top. I ordered this because it was the waiter’s recommendation, and it turned out to be my favorite of the two. The most surprising thing about it was that the green chile replaced the red I had at the old restaurant as my favorite. In fact, this was easily one of the top green chiles I have had in New Mexico. The shredded beef was also excellent. The menu gives a choice of shreded beef, chicken, or ground beef, but they also allow you to make other choices (such as the beans I really liked in the stuffed sopapillas at the Mesilla restaurant).

The other sopapilla was topped with red chile with chile con carne inside (one of several choices suggested by the waiter although it is not listed on the menu). The chile con carne was spicy, though, and I really do not recommend getting something spicy inside when the chile on top is quite spicy in itself. It tasted good, but I cannot say I enjoyed it as much as the spicy green chile contrasted with the non-spicy shredded beef.

Another difference I noted, though, was in the chiles. Both were spicy, but the green chile had a fresh and crisp flavor while the red sauce seemed filled with too many other ingredients that did not make it taste like the red chile I have enjoyed over the years (or like the one I had at the Mesilla restaurant). In short, the red chile was not as good as before, while the green one was better. The sopapilla itself had the same excellent flavor as before, and I was completely satisfied with the green one (although the red was also pretty good).

Red Enchiladas
I reported on my previous review that I also really liked the red enchiladas, but now I would recommend the green.

Rice and Beans
The beans and rice were very good, very much like the ones in other restaurants. The important thing is that the beans are suitable to put inside the stuffed sopapilla if you want a vegetarian version.

Other Notes

The cashier

Specials are posted as you enter

They sometimes have specials, such as the albondigas posted on the board the day I went.

One of the keys of this restaurant is that they make substitutions to give you the food you want, and the waiter did a very good job of working with me to offer some good choices on the stuffed sopapillas. Whatever menu changes they have made are not terribly important because they will make your food the way you want whether it is on the menu or not.

I am not sure whether the red and green chiles have actually changed from their Mesilla location or whether my tastes have changed, but based on experiences at other restaurants I tend to think the former (the chiles at other restaurants still taste the same to me as before). I still like Los Marichias as much as before, but I have switched from being a red person to a green one (at least based on this one experience I have had).

I changed the chile index from “5 chiles” at the old restaurant to 4 here, and I think this is actually a good thing (there is still enough spice to really enjoy it). My stuffed sopapilla with chile con carne inside, though, was still at the 5 spice level.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 27, 2017
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Stuffed Sopapillas, Salsa

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Special Ratings
star 5 Stuffed Sopapilla
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Christmas in Southern New Mexico–Tularosa, NM

For those who might be in the Alamogordo or Ruidoso area at Christmas, one way to experience a traditional New Mexico Christmas is to see the luminarias at the Catholic Church in Tularosa, a historic town about ten miles north of Alamogordo.

Setting up luminarias

Setting up luminarias in Tularosa, NM

These photos were taken during the afternoon of Christmas Eve when it seems that practically the entire town participates in setting up luminarias. Hundreds of luminarias are set up outlining the church, lighting up the church grounds, and following the main street in town leading to the church. They are lit at nightfall in preparation for the the special Christmas Eve service which takes place at the church.

The Catholic Church in Tularosa

Saint Francis de Paula Church

The church in Tularosa has the typical Spanish style architecture that is found in New Mexico, and this one dates from 1869. Even without Christmas decorations the town is quite photogenic, and is worth a stop if you are in the area. With the Sacramento Mountains as the backdrop, the White Sands to the west, and extensive pistachio orchards to the south, this is one of the most scenic spots in New Mexico any time of the year. I will say from experience that usually the weather in this part of the state is agreeable enough to enjoy the celebration and possibly a few outdoor activities during the daytime.

The manger scene

The manger scene

The tradition of luminarias signifies lighting the way for Mary and Joseph to find their way to the stable where Jesus is about to come into the world. The tradition of lighting luminarias is found in towns throughout New Mexico, but I find the light show in Tularosa to be one of the most impressive I have seen.

Casa de Sueños

Casa de Sueños Restaurant in Tularosa

Of course most restaurants are closed late on Christmas eve and on Christmas day, but at other times visitors to Tularosa can enjoy traditional New Mexican cuisine at Casa de Sueños on the south edge of town. I particularly liked the red enchiladas with blue corn tortillas (the blue corn variety is not normally served in southern New Mexico). Casa de Sueños is not particularly spicy, but it is spicy enough to be what I would call “real” New Mexican food that is not dumbed down for tourists. Quite a few tourists stop here, though, because of its reputation for serving delicious New Mexican style food.

I also discovered another stop a few miles south of Tularosa on U.S. 54 and 70 where the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch has its store and winery at 7320 US 54/70 (but don’t worry about the address, just look for the giant pistachio on the west side of the highway).

 

The giant pistachio at McGinn's

The giant pistachio marks the location of McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch

 

Of course one of the main items for sale is the pistachios grown on the McGinn Ranch, and these come in different sized bags according to how many you think you might need. They have a number of different flavored nuts, but after trying several of the free samples I decided to go with the plain ones.

Quite a number of other items are also available, including New Mexico salsas.

McGinn’s is open daily according to the newmexico.org web site, but of course there may be special hours around Christmas.

Cafe Mayapan–El Paso, TX

Café Mayapán
2000 Texas Ave.
El Paso, TX
(915) 217-1126
Cafe Mayapan

Cafe Mayapan entrance to the mercado on the east side


Restaurant Web Site: Cafe Mayapan


Café Mayapán is more than just a restaurant, it is part of a nonprofit organization that provides job training and neighborhood revitalization as well as being part of a complex of businesses located in an old warehouse. The idea of Café Mayapán was to employ some of the displaced workers from the old factory where the restaurant is now located. Next door is a mercado selling arts and crafts, with several community organizations housed elsewhere in the building.

Cafe Mayapan restaurant entrance

Cafe Mayapan entrance to the restaurant on the north side

Café Mayapán knows it is in a tough neighborhood to serve dinner, and is only open on Monday through Saturday at the lunch period. I do not think many customers come to Café Mayapán strictly out of sympathy for the cause it represents, rather they are coming for some of the highest quality Mexican food in El Paso. I have to admire them for not serving the same type of food that can be found at numerous restaurants throughout the city. El Paso style food has its merits with hot chiles and robust flavors, but it is not the only type of Mexican food that exists. The style of food served in the interior of Mexico is quite hard to find on the borderland, but it is the theme of Café Mayapán. I cannot identify a specific state in Mexico as the source for the recipes used, instead I think they probably represent the varied background of the women involved in La Mujer Obrera (the organization which runs the restaurant and the non-profit organization).

Cafe Mayapan's dining room

Cafe Mayapan’s large dining room has a stage for performances

The interior is quite spacious and probably could accommodate many more tables than are available, but room has been left for a stage where mariachis perform on Fridays and other groups may occasionally provide entertainment. The restaurant uses traditional wooden furniture with comfortable pads to make it easy to spend a leisurely meal. A counter is available for takeout, but those wanting a regular meal can order at the table. Service is fast, as I found out when I have had limited time for lunch.

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

All customers are given complimentary Chips that offer the first sign of the quality and home made flavor found at Café Mayapán. These are thick and about as non-greasy as you can find.

The Salsa was not memorable in terms of the local style made with New Mexico chiles. It was very good and fresh, though, being made with green chiles and a mix of spices commonly served in the interior of Mexico.

Soup

Caldo de res

Caldo de res

To me a sign of a good Mexican restaurant is that it serves good soup. At Café Mayapán the soups go beyond good, they are representative of the traditional soups found in central Mexico and are as much of an educational experience to borderland residents who are generally limited to caldo de res as they are taste treats. Several varieties are available and they make up a good part of the menu. This does include Caldo de Res, and while it is a popular soup on the border, the quality is very good compared to most (the vegetables are not cooked to the point of being mushy as they are in some border style soups).

Caldo Tlalpeno

Caldo Tlalpeño

Soups are available in two sizes, with the smaller one meant to be an appetizer while waiting for the meal. I ordered the Caldo Tlalpeño that consisted of chicken, guacamole, vegetables, and a chipotle chile. There were no tortilla strips as in the typical tortilla soup, but otherwise this one was very similar. One of the notable features of it, though, was the fresh vegetables that were fresh and crisp, not tasting as if they had been cooked all morning.

Caldo Tlalpeño is a dish from the Veracruz area, and because of migration patterns from Mexico usually finds its way to restaurants from Laredo north a lot more frequently than to El Paso and the western part of the United States. I have found chipotle chiles in other El Paso restaurants, but as far as I know Café Mayapán has the only caldo tlalpeño to be found in the area.

Sopa azteca

Sopa azteca

Sopa Azteca is made with tortilla chips and noodles, with the same spices included in the caldo tlalpeño. Missing are the vegetables, but it is good to have two versions of the same basic soup. The chipotle chile is something I have not found in all El Paso versions of tortilla soup.

Caldo de fideo

Caldo de fideo

A soup that may be more familiar to borderland residents is Caldo de Fideo made with spaghetti-like noodles and a red colored broth. The one shown in the picture is a large bowl with several albondigas meatballs that have been a traditional border favorite, but are not served at a large number of restaurants because they seem to be hard to prepare correctly. To me it is hard to find any ground beef I really like but this was good. I am not sure if this dish represents cooking from the interior of Mexico or the border, but it shows that Café Mayapán has a little bit of everything.

Puebla Style Mole

Chicken breast in Puebla style mole

Pechuga de pollo en mole poblano

Pechuga de Pollo en Mole Poblano is a chicken breast served with a green mole poblano for one of the restaurant’s “lighter and healthier” dishes (other than the fact it has such a large piece of chicken that it might be too much for lunch). This is the only green mole I have found in El Paso, but I believe Café Mayapán also offers the more familiar brown mole. I think this is a good dish with which to become initiated to Mexican mole. If it turns out the green mole is not your thing, there is enough chicken breast to make a good meal, and the mole can be scraped off. If you find the sauce as satisfying as I do, though, there is enough to cover every bite of chicken.

Enchiladas

Enchiladas suizas

Enchiladas suizas

Enchiladas are not as big in the interior of Mexico as they are on the border, and they tend to be less spicy. An example of this is the Enchiladas Suizas which were mild compared to El Paso versions, although they did have red chile. The common feature of all suizas enchiladas is that they have sour cream, and I liked this one because it was the Mexican style crema. Everything about this seemed more interior style to me than border style.

Drinks

Agua de sandia

Freshly made watermelon drink

The restaurant serves several flavors of agua fresca drinks including Sandía, a drink made of watermelon juice with no pulp included. I think for the best example of these more unusual drinks I would suggest Flautas Tepalca in Canutillo, but the one I tried at Café Mayapán was very good. These drinks tend to be seasonal, with lemonade being something that can be made all year. To me it is not the flavor that matters as much as having a freshly made traditional drink to go along with an equally fresh and traditional meal.

Tortillas
The home made Tortillas were one of the best aspects of the meal and provided a flavor that cannot be found in pre-packaged tortillas.

Closing Comments
The real strength of Café Mayapán is the consistent quality as well as the menu that offers dishes not normally found in El Paso. The whole experience of having excellent soup, drink, chips, salsa, and tortillas confirmed to me that this is one of the best Mexican restaurants in El Paso. It is too bad the restaurant is only open for lunch (and closed Sunday), but I do think it is worthwhile trying to make it.

The food at Café Mayapán is not terribly spicy, being more representative of traditional Mexican food from the interior than the spicy chiles more common near the border. I think the spiciest items I have had were the sopa azteca and the caldo tlalpeño.

In some ways Café Mayapán is not consistent in what it serves. There is a menu that does not change, but they also have seasonal items which are often times the best choices to get (I know some of the drinks are seasonal). Sometimes they also feature special dishes from different states in Mexico, but the availability of these items is not very predictable. Most of the time when I go they just have the regular menu.

The high quality of the food, though, does not seem to be because of a plan to make this a gourmet restaurant. Rather, I think most of the dishes come from recipes the women brought with them from Mexico. The restaurant is owned by a non-profit organization and most of the clientele are working people. The food is not expensive, but it is good because it tastes home made.

The down side is just that it is not as professional as some restaurants–they do not always have the same items, the selection of core items on the menu is somewhat limited, and the availability of some special dishes is hard to predict. The down side is also one of its strengths, though–the food here is much like what you would have in a Mexican household.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican Interior
Cost: $$
Hours: 11 am to 3 pm Mon-Fri (8 am to 3 pm on Sat.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 6, 2017
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Caldo Tlalpeño, Pechuga with Green Mole, Sandía Drink

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: N/A

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Caldo Tlalpeño
star 5 Caldo de Fideo
star 5 Sopa Azteca
star 5 Pechuga de Pollo
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 5 Sandia Drink

Chubby’s–El Paso, TX

Chubby’s Bronx Deli
1830 Joe Battle Blvd.
El Paso, TX
(915) 626-5373
Chubby's

Chubby’s Bronx Deli


With all of the items I eat and new dishes I like to try, sandwiches comprise a surprisingly small portion of this. It is not that I am averse to them, but I hold a high standard for what I like to eat (probably more than with other types of food).

Chubby’s is worthwhile, though, serving Boar’s Head meat and other ingredients that are high quality. I have been eating Boar’s Head at home for a while, and I can vouch for its quality, flavor, and lack of the preservatives that nutritionists say we should avoid. It is more difficult for restaurants to serve this type of meat, with a small window of time that the meat will be fresh and not wanting to have too much of it that they have to throw away because it does not sell.

Reuben

Reuben

Reuben with sauerkraut and Russian dressing

The Reuben sandwich seems to be the specialty of Chubby’s (I gathered that both with on line comments and from what employees were recommending). Although you can build your own sandwiches here, I think the standard reuben with sauerkraut and Russian dressing is a good bet. It is very fresh, and of course each person will judge whether or not it tastes good (but I thought it was pretty good considering that I generally like things like turkey or tuna).

Other Comments
Although Chubby’s is very good, I find the choices limited for what I would expect in a deli. Some delis I know in Oklahoma prepare their own dishes in addition to the sandwiches, and I am not sure if Chubby’s is really a deli or whether it is just a sandwich shop. Yelp has reviews for their cheesesteak sandwiches and chicken salad, which take more preparation than merely throwing a sandwich together. Still, I think the choices are limited for a deli.

Having said that, I cannot argue with the quality or flavor of what Chubby’s serves.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Sandwiches
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. evening
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 2, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Reuben

Special Ratings
star 5 Reuben

La Choza–El Paso, TX

La Choza Menudazo & Tamalotes
1155 N. Zaragoza Rd.
El Paso, TX
(915) 872-1486
La Choza

La Choza


My visits to La Choza span more than a decade and the length of El Paso, but the result has always been the same–good food that is “authentic” as the restaurant claims. In 2006 and 2007 I made several visits to the west side La Choza which is now closed, and recently I was able to go to the original restaurant on Zaragoza Road in east El Paso (although I believe the original restaurant is actually in Ciudad Juarez). Both El Paso locations have stayed true to the original Chihuahua style tastes, and have not changed at all because of being located north of the border.

The El Paso Times spotlighted La Choza in its 2006 Best of the Border awards as serving the “Best Menudo” and as a runner-up in the “Best Tamales” category (as is reflected by its name Menudazo y Tamalotes). La Choza is certainly one of the city’s better Mexican restaurants, and especially in the category of what I call “Chihuahua style Mexican food,” or food that is more authentic and served the style that people tend to eat every day in Ciudad Juarez and throughout northern Mexico.

Probably the best thing to get here is a combination plate. They make it easy with about eight different plates on the menu, and an almost unlimited variety if you make substitutions (which they seem to make very easy to order). On the plates I have ordered the tamales seem to be a “must include” item.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The chips and salsa are usually a tip-off as to the quality of the meal that will be served. The Chips at La Choza were more than impressive– home made, thick, crispy, not too greasy, and only a bit too salty. In fact, these may be viewed as the classic El Paso and northern Mexico style chips by which others can be compared.

The Salsa may be even more impressive–a thin liquid with just the right amount of diced chiles and not too much cilantro or other spices that typically ruin a good salsa.

Appetizers and A La Carte Items

Chile con queso

Small order of chile con queso

To me a very special meal would include a small order of Chile con Queso. A lot of restaurants serve this dish, but other parts of the country do not compare to the northern Mexican style that is typified by La Choza. This dish is served with a thick cheese that does not turn either too hard or too gooey, and fresh green chile strips that taste as if they come from the local area. Some people get the full order as a dinner, but my stomach is not prepared for that much green chile at one sitting. I loved the appetizer, though, and thought it was one of the best versions of chile con queso I had tried. Others in El Paso serve very good queso, but I thought the one at La Choza was probably closer to the ones I have eaten in Mexico.

Special tamales

Special tamales

They frequently offer special tamales that are not regularly on the menu, such as the green and red ones shown here. I do not know what they are called, I only suggest getting the ones freshly made no matter what they are.

Combination Plates

Combination no. 6

Combination plate no. 6

The Combination Plate Number 6 has what I normally consider to be some of the best items to order, but here the best one is the Tamal. All the items together, though, made a very enjoyable dinner.

The Chile Relleno surprised me by coming plain without sauce on top. It also surprised me by being less greasy than most. I did not find it as flavorful as most of the ones I consider to be “New Mexico” style, but I think using the type of chile, cheese, and breading that are consistent with Ciudad Juarez style food, La Choza did a very good job.

The Red Enchilada had good cheese, but came with a rather weak red chile that was diluted with too many spices. If you are used to the ones in Ciudad Juarez you will feel right at home with the enchiladas here. Personally I prefer the ones that are more popular in El Paso using stronger chiles and without as strong of a cumin flavor.

Combination plate with agua fresca

Combination plate with a gordita, chicken tamal, flauta, rice, and beans

The Flauta on this combination plate was also among my favorites. It was notable in its lack of greasiness. The guacamole, served in a small container, was excellent. I was served sour cream that was still cold and hard to use as a dip, but it was better on a subsequent visit. La Choza also provides a third topping that completes the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green. The red container has a special red chile that is more robust with flavors than it is spicy (if you want something extremely spicy you can use the salsa served before the meal). Ciro’s has been known in town for serving the same style flautas with three toppings, but I thought the one at La Choza was equally good, if not better.

The Gordita was enclosed in a soft flour tortilla shell, with roast beef inside (other types of meat are available). While this type of meat seems superior to me than the ground beef used at Little Diner and other restaurants, the unfried shell made this a different type of food than the border style gordita–really it is more like a soft taco. I enjoyed the way La Choza made it but it was not really the same dish as the deep fried ones served at Little Diner and JJ’s.

The Chicken Tamal with green chile was the first thing I ordered after I read that La Choza was one of the best places in town for tamales. It had the traditional corn husk that was opened to reveal a moist masa outside with chicken and green chile inside. I thought the chicken was the weak point of the tamal, being a little dry. The green chile was not as robust as at other restaurants, but it was one of the better tamales I have tried. While there are different styles of tamales in Mexico and throughout the American Southwest, it is not easy to get a masa that tastes just right. I think the one at La Choza comes pretty close.

A Melón (canteloupe) drink I ordered was very good– not too sweet and a good representation of this type of agua fresca drink.

Combination plate with beans, rice, flauta, red enchilada, and chile relleno

Combination plate with beans, rice, flauta, red enchilada, and chile relleno

This combination plate does not present any new items, but it shows how you can get just about any combination of items that you wish.

Green enchiladas

Combination plate with green enchiladas

Green Enchiladas made Ciudad Juarez style are milder than the ones with New Mexico chile, and sometimes have a different flavor. The trick I have found to ordering them is to always get a chicken filling, and when possible get them with sour cream (enchilada suiza style). At La Choza it turned out I had nothing to worry about, since the green chile was quite good (although still not very spicy). The Mexican white cheese added a flavor dimension that is not found in New Mexico enchiladas that use yellow cheese, so in my opinion the green enchiladas at La Choza are on par with some of the city’s New Mexico style enchiladas. I enjoyed them served with chicken and a container of sour cream that was served on the side, although I think ones without chicken might be my first discovery of a truly good meatless dish at La Choza.

Other Notes
The prices were a little higher than are normally found in El Paso Mexican restaurants, but I thought were a bargain for the quality of food served. Even the items that I thought did not have the best flavor were very fresh and of good quality.

The service has always been outstanding even though I have gone to different locations and have had different servers.

Breakfast is available from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

This is a “late night” restaurant for Fridays and Saturdays since they are open 24 hours both of these evenings. This is also a time when they sever the “special” tamales.

Even if a restaurant stays true to “Chihuahua style” cooking, there is still a great allowance for individual recipes and cooking methods. I like the way La Choza prepares the food, and I have found the total meals to be a pleasurable experience that makes up for any specific shortcomings found in individual items. To me the only real shortcoming has been in the red enchiladas, but this has been my general experience with Ciudad Juarez style restaurants. The green enchiladas and just about everything else, though, have been outstanding.

More than being good, though, the food has been very enjoyable–something that is intangible but very important. I hope others will enjoy it as much as I have.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican Chihuahua
Cost: $$
Hours: Open daily except Sun. evening (open 24 hrs. on Sat.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 1, 2017
Number of Visits: 4
Best Items: Tamales, Flautas, Green Enchiladas, Gorditas, Chile con Queso, Chips, Salsa, Agua Fresca Drinks

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Tamales Green
star 5 Tamales Red
star 5 Flautas
star 5 Gorditas
star 4 Chile Relleno
star 3 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Green Enchiladas
star 5 Chile con Queso
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 5 Beans
star 4 Rice
star 5 Melón Drink

McGinn’s Country Store–Alamogordo, NM

McGinn’s Country Store
7320 Hwy. 54/70
Alamogordo, NM
(575) 437-0602
McGinn's

McGinn’s Country Store and Pistachio Tree Ranch


For years I have been buying pistachios at Tularosa, New Mexico, but it is only recently that I have ventured to the actual farms between Tularosa and Alamogordo to buy directly from the source. In fact, the clerk in Tularosa specifically directed me to McGinn’s, saying that she liked the different flavors of pistachios they offered.

At the entrance

At the entrance

The McGinn’s store is located on their large pistachio farm, and is a large repository for all kinds of New Mexico products (particularly food products). They sell their own pistachios in bags that range from 5 to 20 pounds, but also offer them in flavors which can be sampled at the store (I decided to buy the plain ones). I also had a sample of McGinn’s own salsa brand called Pistachio Tree Ranch (the sample was Black Bean & Corn which was not spicy but had a good flavor).

The McGinn operation also includes a winery and tours of the farm (presumably with wine tasting). I thought the prices in the store were a little high, but I was so impressed with having so many items in one place that I still managed to get quite a collection of eats (particularly the salsas).

Salsa for sale

Salsa for sale

The only place I have seen this big of a variety of New Mexico salsas was in a grocery store in Las Cruces a few years back, and McGinn’s had ones I had not seen before. Because of my previous experience I knew a few I wanted to try and some I did not want to try. By trying the sample at the counter the cashier had an idea about my tastes and what I would like. Through this process I started with picking out six salsas from the shelves, out of which the cashier recommended these three (shown below).

Salsas

Some of the salsas available

So far I have tried the Chimayo Tradition Hot Salsa, and so far I think this is my favorite of the New Mexico salsas I have tried. The salsa is fairly simple with chunks of green chile and jalapenos, but the green chiles are the predominant flavor. The base is tomato with lime juice, garlic, and some other ingredients that I think has a very smooth flavor (also notice that out of the three jars this is the one that has the least number of seeds).

As I try the other salsas I will update this article.

The giant pistachio at McGinn's

The giant pistachio marks the location of McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch

Of course I also think the pistachios grown here are some of the best. Apparently they are available other places in Alamogordo at cheaper prices, but I have not located the other places so I could price them. I could no longer find them at the store in Tularosa that used to sell them (but this is how I ended up at McGinn’s store and was able to find their great selection of salsas).


RATING: *

Cost: *

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 1, 2017

Number of Visits: *

Best Items: Pistachios, Chimayo Salsa

Special Ratings

star 5 Chimayo Tradition Salsa (Hot)