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 as having a better selection of dessert items.

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 on my first visit in 2017, 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).

Lemon tarte

New version of the lemon tarte

Although hard to read, the “Citron” is the new version of the lemon tarte they have served in 2018. It does not have a strawberry filling and in appearance is almost completely different from the old one, although the lemon flavor is just as good as before, and it is still my favorite item at Le Rendez-vous. The best way to describe it is to compare it to the best lemon pie I have ever tasted.

Cream puff

Cream puff

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

Sable and macarons

Sable and macarons

Sables are a best seller here, and are very good to take home because they have a fairly long shelf life. All cookies have a chocolate swirl, in addition to half of it being covered with either more chocolate or a white frosting (as shown in the photo). The Macarons also make good snacks or desserts.

Fruit cup

Fruit cup

I have not yet tried their meals, but there is a very large selection of breakfasts, sandwiches, and other items. In looking at their Facebook page, it also appears that they frequently serve Cajun or Southwestern style specials for lunch. The fruit cup makes a very good snack or side dish.

I think most people probably come for the pastries, and while it can be hard to choose I think it is hard to go wrong with anything you get. The lemon tarte was one I initially was not going to choose but was recommended by the staff. The fact that it exceeded my expectations tells me that you probably will do all right by following the employees’ recommendations.


RATING: *

Cuisine: Cafe & bakery
Cost: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 26, 2018

Number of Visits: 3

Best Items: Lemon Tarte, Cream Puff, Sable

Special Ratings

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

Inni Heart–El Paso, TX

Inni Heart
1731 Montana Ave.
El Paso, TX
(915) 533-8890
Inni Heart

Inni Heart


Inni Heart is a “New American” restaurant with an emphasis on freshness and quality (I am old enough to remember when this was the “regular American” food with the newcomer being the fast food restaurants). Another characteristic of “New American” food is that it is local, and in El Paso that inevitably involves Mexican food or some aspect of it. Although Inni Heart has some Mexican dishes, it seems to be more of a Mexican influenced cuisine with items such as chicken-chipotle spaghetti squash.

The enchilada plate I ordered is not traditional Mexican food, or at least it is not traditional for the border area. Chips and salsa are not served with meals, and the traditional rice and beans are replaced with more healthy options. Other Mexican dishes are available, but mostly it seemed to be healthy American food (I do not know if fried food is totally lacking or if it is just not prominent).

The restaurant used to be called La Tierra Cafe, but it was explained to me that they had a complaint by another restaurant in Texas named La Tierra so this restaurant changed its name. I do not know the whole story, but this is the reason it has its official name and the somewhat unofficial one of La Tierra by which most of the locals know it.

Mexican Food

Creamy chipotle chicken enchiladas

Creamy chipotle chicken enchiladas

Although Creamy Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas are not a traditional border style Mexican dish, this was in essence true Mexican, and was one of the best enchilada plates I have ever tried. What I liked best about it was that they found a way to blend the chipotle into the dish without making it too spicy or giving it too much of a chipotle flavor so that all the other flavors came through. Inni Heart is a very casual lunch place, but this dish was really worthy of being served in a fine dining Mexican restaurant where they would charge correspondingly high prices.

Other Menu Items
Other Mexican dishes are also available, as well as some that are a fusion of Mexican and American food. You do not get chips and salsa with the meals and side dishes have been upgraded from the typical beans and rice.

They also serve sandwiches, salads, and other dishes that are strictly American, although the theme for all the food here is that it is more healthy than you would typically find at other restaurants.

Dessert

Ice cream

Ice cream

I cannot imagine how the Ice Cream fits the “healthy” theme of the restaurant, except for the fact that it tasted home made without the normal long list of added ingredients you normally see on an ice cream package. In fact, judging from the flavor I would say that it is definitely home made.

Overall Comments
The prices are a little bit high for El Paso, but low compared to comparable food I have had in other cities. Inni Heart may be comparable to other “healthy food” restaurants, but I found the flavor of the chipotle enchiladas to be totally unique in my Mexican food experience. These were truly some of the best enchiladas I have ever tasted, and definitely were the best chipotle enchiladas I have had.

Down sides of the restaurant definitely include the limited hours, but also I would say the menu is fairly limited (especially when it comes to Mexican food). I did not see any daily specials that are usually very good in this type of restaurant (since they concentrate on fresh ingredients and locally available products). Yelp says they do have a daily soup and sandwich combination, though.

Honestly, though, the food is so good the only criticism I can make is that I wish they had more items that I could choose.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican and New American
Cost: $$
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 20, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Enchiladas, Ice Cream

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Creamy Chicken Chipotle Enchiladas
star 5 Ice Cream

Great American–Vinton, TX

Great American Steakhouse
600 Valley Chili Rd.
Anthony, TX
(915) 886-4690
Great American Steakhouse

Great American Steakhouse in Vinton


Great American is a mini-chain of steak restaurants that also qualifies as an El Paso institution because it has been here for so long. For years I thought the steak was not quite as good as Cattleman’s in Fabens, although the sides were better. This has changed because Cattleman’s has gone through some changes lately and because of some experiences I have had at Great American on Mesa Hills that gave me a better opinion of their steak. I now believe that both restaurants have good cuts of steak and others that are less impressive. For sides, it is hard to beat the cole slaw at Great American.

Although I only have one recent experience at the Vinton Great American (which has a postal address of Anthony, TX), I have also had a number of experiences at various locations throughout El Paso over the years. This review is only for the Vinton restaurant, although I think all of the restaurants serve pretty much the same food.

The Steak

New York steak

New York steak with potato, beans, and cole slaw

Although the New York Steak was a little disappointing in some ways, this quality of steak is still a special treat. It seems that almost no steak tastes the same as I remember when I was younger, although this one comes close. It had a very good flavor (which is the reason I like to order the New York cut) and they cooked it very well.

The disappointing part was that it was gristly in part of the steak, although part of it was very good. I think this is a characteristic of the cut, although I do not eat enough steak to be an expert on the different cuts.

I do not think the steaks here are grass fed or have the other special characteristics I sometimes find in Oklahoma City, although the prices at Great American are relatively affordable and the steak is a good bargain.

Side Dishes
The Cole Slaw has been my favorite dish at Great American since I first tried it years ago. The most noticeable characteristic of it is the pineapple flavor, although they keep the sweetness to just the right level. I made a special note that there was at least one chunk of pineapple in every bite I took at the Vinton restaurant.

The Baked Potato was very good, although it is still not like the ones I remember when I was younger and living in Austin (I don’t know why they were so good there, but like all food I judge everything by the best examples I have found).

The Beans were disappointing to me after having remembered them being so good in the past. I do not think they have changed, but my tastes have changed so that I do do not like them as spicy as they are at Great American. I have been on a barbecue kick lately, and my favorite beans are ones you typically find in barbecue restaurants. The people at Great American told me they put Tabasco sauce in the beans, but personally I think they put too much.

Additional Comments
I have experienced better cuts of steak at Great American than the New York, but I just wanted to give this one a try. It was not bad, and had a great flavor in spite of the gristle in parts of it.

I do not know why, but the staff in Vinton seem to be the most friendly of any of the Great American Restaurants, and this was true even about 20 years ago when I made my first visit. I do not know if this translates into better food, but I do think they try to do what they can to make your visit enjoyable.

I know from past experiences that Great American has better steaks than the New York, and the Mesa Hills location even had a Wagyu style steak which I believe is still available at all the locations. Something that is this much more expensive would obviously give a better meal, but I believe some less expensive steaks such as the filet would also be a good choice. For the rating of this restaurant, though, I have to base it on what I have actually tried (and I would expect it to go up with some other steaks).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Steak
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full Bar

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 15, 2018
Number of Visits: 4
Best Items: New York Steak, Cole Slaw

Special Ratings
star 5 New York Steak
star 5 Cole Slaw
star 5 Baked Potato
star 3 Beans