La Posta de Mesilla
2410 Calle de San Albino
La Posta was founded in 1939, and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. Across from the Mesilla Plaza, the historic building in which it is located is quite interesting (and I recommend a visit to the building whether or not you eat at the restaurant). While inside you can visit the gift shop, see the indoor patio with plants and birds, or simply wander around the building.
La Posta represents a milestone to me, being my first experience with New Mexican food in the southern part of the state. At that time it had authentic spicy New Mexican food, and was almost too hot for me to eat. Since that time, though, my taste buds have become much more accustomed to New Mexico chile, but I also think La Posta has had a substantial decline in its chile heat index. Even those who have never tried New Mexican cuisine before can probably feel safe that the food at La Posta will not be too spicy, but that the flavors found in this type of Mexican food can still be experienced.
Mrs. Josephine Griggs came from a pioneer Mesilla family, and her daughter Katherine used Mrs. Griggs’ recipes when opening La Posta (other Griggs children founded Griggs Restaurant in El Paso and El Pinto in Albuquerque). The Griggs family recipes include a large number of authentic, delicious New Mexico style dishes, but the various restaurants have had their own way of interpreting the food. I think Peppe’s Restaurant in El Paso (using the Griggs Restaurant recipes) may be the truest to the original cooking style, using local chiles and providing fairly spicy New Mexican food. El Pinto has toned down the food a bit, and as a result has become somewhat of a tourist destination for people who are not that crazy about the hotter varieties of New Mexico chile. La Posta, however, has gone the farthest of the three restaurants in making the food more “touristy” to the way they figure people from outside New Mexico would like it. Judging from the crowds, people do seem to like La Posta.
As you enter the building there are some shops, including the La Posta Chile Shop where they sell gifts, bottles of La Posta’s salsa, and as of 2015 there is a cookbook with the restaurant’s recipes. Also here is the Matteo Jewelry Store.
The waiting area at Christmas
In the area where a receptionist will greet you is a large indoor patio with fountains, live birds, and indoor plants which provide a pleasant atmosphere if you have to wait for a table. The area is also festively decorated for any approaching holidays.
The waiting area at Cinco de Mayo
Plates of food are just about to reach a large group of hungry patrons
I am impressed that the Chiles Rellenos do not have sauce on top, so diners can get a glimpse of what the New Mexico style relleno should be. However, the egg batter does not seem to be as flavorful as I think it could be, and as I have experienced in other Las Cruces area restaurants. The chile has almost no discernible heat, but being in the heart of chile growing country assures that La Posta will offer fresh and flavorful chiles.
The highlight of the restaurant may be the Green Enchilada (this was also my favorite dish at Griggs Restaurant in El Paso). Abuelita Griggs’ recipe comes through fairly well here, and it does have a little bit of spice. The heat level does not even approach that which is typically known as “New Mexico green chile,” such as is served in Chope’s or Nellie’s. Nevertheless, green chile enchiladas are authentic New Mexican in terms of flavor.
I have not tried the Sopapillas lately, but the ones I saw come out of the kitchen were large and fluffy as they should be. This is something I always remember as one of the special treats at La Posta.
Flan and guacamole spotted in the kitchen
I also like the fact that La Posta uses vegetable oil for all the cooking, including the refried beans (but I don’t know why they don’t serve whole pinto beans instead of refried).
Chips and salsa are one of the better parts of the meal, and I do like the salsa they sell in the gift shop.
Summing It Up
To my own taste, other restaurants in the Las Cruces area serve more satisfying New Mexican food. At La Posta I almost have to rely on the traditionally non-spicy foods, such as the guacamole and sopapillas. I do think, though, that the green enchiladas, with a semi-spicy chile, are probably La Posta’s best dish. What I would suggest ordering is a combination plate with as many different flavors as possible.
No restaurant in or near Las Cruces can match La Posta’s beautiful old building, charm, or historic setting. Stop by for drinks, dessert, a snack, looking in the gift shop, or just seeing the historic building, even if you do not want to order a meal here. I think it will be worth it.
View of La Posta from the Plaza
The town of Mesilla is a well known tourist attraction, and is one which I find very interesting and worthwhile visiting. Most of the restaurants and shops are located on the Plaza, where there is free parking either on the Plaza or not far away. The shops include some that sell local food specialties, such as pecans at the Mesilla Valley Store.