Casa Blanca–Ruidoso, NM

Casa Blanca
501 Mechem Dr.
Ruidoso, NM
(575) 257-2495
Casa Blanca

Casa Blanca


The problem with finding good Mexican food in a tourist town such as Ruidoso is that I do not always trust the reviews. Good reviews about a restaurant may be significant, or they could just reflect the fact that the food is better than in the reviewer’s home town. When I went to Casa Blanca it was really the old fashioned way–by trial and error like I did when there were no reviews. Fortunately, it was no error to come here. Casa Blanca has very solid New Mexican cuisine and I think rates as one of the best in southeast New Mexico.

The building is laid out with the restaurant on the top floor and the bar on the bottom. Patrons can go to the bar on the lower level or order drinks in the restaurant (servers bring the drinks up a flight of stairs to patrons). I did not find out until I was inside that I could avoid the long stairway in front of the building by parking in the back and using a ramp which goes to the rear of the restaurant. Either way I welcome the exercise I get in Ruidoso while breathing the mountain air.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The Salsa had a rich flavor typical of New Mexico and was perhaps less spicy than many others, but was not the typical bland salsa I find in many tourist restaurants either. The chips were excellent as well.

Stuffed Sopapillas

Stuffed sopapilla

Stuffed sopapilla with red and green sauce

The Stuffed Sopapillas here are huge, and one makes a substantial meal. I ordered the “Christmas” version with both red and green chile, and I was happy to get a fairly spicy version of both (although this is not the type of spicy chile that numbs your mouth). Usually my preference is for red chile, but at Casa Blanca I felt that the green was clearly more flavorful and had more of a pure chile taste (mixed with cheese, of course).

The stuffing was ground beef because I wanted a traditional taste for this dish (which is usually beef). They do have other options, though, and I think if you can order shredded beef this would be preferable (but this was not one of the choices listed on the menu).

Other Notes
Food automatically seems to taste better in a mountain setting where there is no time constraint for eating your meal. Having said that, this was a genuinely good New Mexican meal.

View of Ruidoso

View of Ruidoso from the window

I am somewhat of a stuffed sopapilla fanatic and generally like them better than enchiladas, but of course there are other choices available besides either of these. For items with chile I would recommend the green here, although I liked the red one also. Anyone who is not sure about the chile can order both of them on the side and decide which one to use after sampling them.

I have to say that this is definitely one of the best New Mexican restaurants I have found in the southeastern part of the state, and I think even better than Casa de Sueños in Tularosa. I found Chef Lupe’s in Ruidoso to be very good for Mexican style Mexican food, but now I know a good one for New Mexican cuisine as well.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes (ramp accessible from the rear parking lot)
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, full bar

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 5, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Stuffed Sopapilla

Mexican Food Details

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

Bamboo Garden–Alamogordo, NM

Bamboo Garden
2617 N. White Sands Blvd.
Alamogordo, NM
(575) 437-5552
Bamboo Garden

Bamboo Garden


I was alerted that this restaurant had a “secret menu” of authentic Chinese food, and this meant the possibility of not only having a great lunch but also being able to share the information with others. This is not a far-fetched concept, since I have found similar restaurants in places such as Portales, Roswell, and Ruidoso. In fact, even the now closed Golden Palace in Alamogordo had authentic food to go along with their American style favorites.

At first the staff at Bamboo Garden seemed to have no knowledge of what I had heard, and told me that they only had one menu. After asking to speak to the chef, though, I found out that he did indeed prepare traditional style Chinese food by request, but there was no menu for it. What he offered, though, was a choice of meats and a choice of whether you want Cantonese style food or something spicy. Based on this I ordered the item pictured below.

Some web sites state that Bamboo Garden serves both Chinese and Korean food. At first this made me worried that I was seeking authentic Chinese food at a restaurant run by Korean people, but it turned out that the husband is Chinese and the wife is Korean, and they offer both types of food. The Chinese food is Americanized by default but traditional style if you want it. I assume that the Korean food is authentic because this is the way I have seen it at other restaurants.

Special Chinese Dishes

Chicken & broccoli

Chicken & broccoli with oyster sauce and black beans

The Chicken and Broccoli was a special dish (not on the menu) the chef prepared for me when I asked for authentic Chinese food. This was made with oyster sauce and black beans, and as far as I am concerned passed all the tests for being traditional style. It had a simple but very good flavor, and the ingredients were equally simple (chicken and broccoli). I normally consider this type of broccoli to be an American adaptation of Chinese food, but with the sauce the chef prepared this tasted as Chinese as it would have been with any Chinese vegetables. It is interesting that he also added some jalapenos (certainly not Cantonese, but this is New Mexico after all where everyone loves chiles). The jalapenos were in a small quantity and could easily be removed, but of course I thought it would be best to follow the chef’s suggestion and eat everything on the plate (and it was quite good with the chiles).

I know not everyone is a fanatic about ordering traditional style Chinese food like I am, but this dish was so high up on the deliciousness scale that I really have to tell people they don’t know what they are missing if they do not take advantage of this type of opportunity.

Tea
The restaurant serves a brewed jasmine tea which is excellent, and ensures that the drink is as good as the food.

Other Tips
Food here normally has MSG, but it can be omitted by request. There is no buffet but they have lunch specials (including Korean food). The restaurant is closed from 2:30 to 5:00 P.M.

If you want the authentic Chinese food, be patient. When I went the wait staff did not know about it but when I was able to talk to the chef I was able to get what I was seeking. The “authentic” food does not seem to have any different meat or vegetables, but the sauce he makes is quite satisfying and delicious.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 5, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Chicken & Broccoli

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken & Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

Le Rendez-vous–Las Cruces, NM

Le Rendez-vous Cafe
2701 W. Picacho Ave.
Las Cruces, NM
(575) 527-0098
Le Rendez-Vous

Le Rendez-Vous


I will admit that I like almost any kind of dessert, but I also recognize those which stand out as being a special treat (as the ones here do). Le Rendez-vous is a cafe which serves sandwiches and French dishes such as quiche (it serves breakfast and lunch every day except Monday). It seems to be competing with A Bite of Belgium on the food items, although the people at A Bite of Belgium actually recommended Le Rendez-vous to me when they did not have the dessert items I wanted.

Almond crescent

Almond crescent

The bakery items at Le Rendez-vous are definitely on the expensive side but also very rich so that they go a long way. They do have some items, though, which are less rich and less expensive, such as the Almond Crescent. I just think of these items as ones which I can eat all at once, but even the crescent was one that was so good I wanted to save some for a later time. It is not terribly sweet, but the chocolate, nuts, dough, and almond paste filling make a very nice treat.

Lemon tarte

Lemon tarte

The Lemon Tarte was my favorite of the items I tried, and also the one I cut into the smallest pieces to make it last a long time. This had a strawberry filling, coconut sprinkled on the sides, and a lemon topping. The balance between a sweet and tart flavor was quite nice, and I was a little surprised about putting lemon and strawberry flavors together (but it really worked).

Cream puff

Cream puff

The Cream Puff also had a strawberry filling, but more than the tarte and it included whole strawberries. The cream was very rich, and I also thought this was an excellent pastry.

If you come here I think the hardest part is choosing what to buy (they all seem to be excellent). The lemon tarte, though, was one I initially was not going to choose but was recommended by the staff. This tells me that you probably will do all right by following the employees’ recommendations.


RATING: *

Cuisine: Cafe & bakery
Cost: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Dec. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Lemon Tarte, Cream Puff

Special Ratings

star 5 Lemon Tarte
star 5 Cream Puff
star 5 Almond Crescent