La Posta–Mesilla, NM

La Posta de Mesilla
2410 Calle de San Albino
Mesilla, NM
(575) 524-3524
La Posta

La Posta

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.

The entrance

The entrance

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.

Gift shop

Gift shop

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

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 t Cinco de Mayo

The waiting area at Cinco de Mayo

The Food

Food being served

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

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.

The kitchen

The kitchen

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

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.


Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, wine, drinks

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 6, 2005
Number of Visits: 7
Best Items: Green Enchiladas, Sopapillas

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Special Ratings
star 4 Green Enchiladas
star 2 Chile Relleno (No sauce on top)
star 2 Beans
star 2 Rice
star 3 Chips
star 3 Salsa
star 5 Sopapillas

International Delights–Las Cruces, NM

International Delights
1245 El Paseo Rd.
Las Cruces, NM
(575) 647-5956
International Delights

International Delights

When I came to International Delights I was not particularly hungry, but with Middle Eastern food being one of my favorites I knew I could have a snack at the restaurant and take the rest home. This turned out to be fortunate, because as much as I liked the food for dinner it was even better the next day as leftovers.

The restaurant is somewhat international, but mostly Middle Eastern. The items I ordered are common in the Lebanese restaurants which I enjoy in Oklahoma, but I think they could be associated with a number of countries in the region. I do not remember the items that are from other regions of the world except for the gyros, but I do remember that some other regions were represented.

It was actually difficult to order because there is not a complete menu of all the items. Instead some items were listed on a board above the cash register while there was a smaller board near the entrance that seemed to include their specials and seasonal items. For many items I did not understand either what they were or whether it was a plate, sandwich, etc. I had to stand at the register to see the menu, and this was while other people were waiting in line.

Because of the awkwardness of ordering I probably got too much food, but it turned out to be enough to provide two excellent meals instead of one. Also for my readers, of course, it allows me to give descriptions of more items.

Salads and Appetizers
Salads here are included on dinner plates such as the one I ordered, as are some side dishes such as hummus that could also be considered as an appetizer. The salad was fresh and had a good flavored dressing.

The Hummus met my expectations in terms of flavor, and in texture was really one of the best I have found anywhere. I think this was because it was not ground into a paste as I find in many restaurants.


Lentil soup

Lentil soup

The Lentil Soup was excellent, and was better than any I have found in El Paso so far (and I assume it is also the best in Las Cruces). As the photo shows it is very thick, and possibly more filling than many others.

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken shawarma

Chicken shawarma

My first comment about the Chicken Shawarma is that the meat was excellent–it had the type of flavor I find in Halal meat although I do not know for sure that the meat here is Halal. This was combined with a very flavorful seasoning, and was one of the reasons I was very impressed with this restaurant.

The tahini sauce was one of the best I have ever tasted, and went well with the meat. They also give you some local style salsa that I did not eat with the chicken, but it was great with the chips I had at home for a snack.

Moroccan Tea

Moroccan tea

Moroccan tea

Although the Moroccan Tea was good, it was not like ones I have had in Oklahoma made with mint and sugar (thus this was what I would call a disappointment). In the future I would still order the tea, though, rather than another kind of drink.


Lemon cake

Lemon cake

They also have a number of desserts available such as this Lemon Cake. Although it was good, I still had the memory of the wonderful desserts at Le Rendez-vous which are the ones I would really recommend if you are able to go there.

Other Comments
The Pita was as excellent as the other items, and I really do not know of another Middle Eastern restaurant in the Borderland which is as consistently good all around.

At first I thought the prices were a little high but this was before I knew how much I would enjoy the food. I still question, though, whether the cake and the Moroccan tea were worth what I paid.

I think the restaurant describes itself as Mediterranean (which covers a broad range of cuisines), but really I thought the Middle Eastern dishes were a standout here. I do not know about their gyros, etc., but for anyone who loves Middle Eastern food I think this is a must try.


Cuisine: Mediterranean
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (breakfast Fri.-Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 5, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chicken Shawarma, Hummus, Lentil Soup

Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken Shawarma
star 5 Hummus
star 5 Lentil Soup
star 4 Moroccan Tea
star 5 Pita
star 5 Lemon Cake

Aqua Reef–Las Cruces, NM

Aqua Reef Euro Asian Cuisine
141 Roadrunner Parkway
Las Cruces, NM
(575) 522-7333
Aqua Reef

Aqua Reef

When I took some night classes at New Mexico State University I used the opportunity to sharpen my work skills as well as do a systematic sampling of the restaurants in Las Cruces. While I had a good excuse to try many new restaurants, I also became a frequent customer at some that had already been my favorites. At the top of the list was Tatsu Japanese Restaurant operating out of a building which appeared to be a converted coffee house, but which provided a cozy setting for some great food.

When Tatsu closed I thought good Asian food in Las Cruces would now be extremely limited, but it turned out that Chef Tatsu Miyazaki was really just beginning his ventures in the restaurant world. Aqua Reef, opened in 2008 on Telshor and now at the new location, continued the Japanese cuisine formerly served at Tatsu but which has now been expanded to “Euro Asian fusion.” Although I have seen the word fusion used to describe the restaurant, this is somewhat of a misnomer because the Japanese food seems to be as authentic and true to the Japanese tradition as I found at Tatsu Restaurant. They have added other types of food to give diners more of a variety, but the heart of the restaurant is still Japanese (the sushi selection has also become quite extensive).

Before I give my observations about the food I probably need to address the issue of the prices. It is expensive for Las Cruces, but the food is from a renowned and much awarded chef–the type of food you might expect to get in places such as Las Vegas (in fact Chef Tatsu was a chef instructor at the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas). Aqua Reef does not have lunch specials and it is more expensive than other lunch choices for sure, but I think it is far less expensive than similar food would cost in larger cities. This is a special occasion restaurant, but the prices are such that you can enjoy the “special occasions” much more frequently than you might think.

My natural inclination is to try to save money, so I had to make a choice here about what to order. Salmon is usually my preference for Japanese lunches, but it is more expensive than other items (and other choices such as chicken were already more expensive than at other restaurants). Once I decided to get what I really wanted (the salmon), I also had the choice of their regular tea or an upgrade to the Té brand (this was recommended by the waitress). I will just get to the point and say I think it was a good choice to go with the more expensive option on each one, and I think my money was well spent for the experience I had (the lunch was about $20 for both food and drink).

My opinion is that it is well worthwhile to splurge here. If you want something less expensive such as the chicken, that is worthwhile also, and was my go to dish at the old Tatsu Restaurant that I enjoyed so much. This does not have to be your most expensive meal in Las Cruces, but if you choose to spend the money you will get a very good meal.


Té jasmine tea

Té jasmine tea

The Té brand tea is an upgrade from their regular tea, and costs about a dollar more. Since I did not try the regular tea it is hard to compare them, but I was very happy with the tea I got. The bag is full of loose leaves which you dip in the teapot. The result is a brewed tea that you make yourself (and the leaves stay inside the bag). They have several flavors of tea, some of which would go better with the “Euro” side of the menu.


Miso soup

Miso soup

My meal came with a choice of miso or egg drop soup, and of course I thought the Miso would go better with a Japanese meal. The miso was so rich and flavorful it made me think that many others are actually watered down, and that this is the way they would do it in Japan (it probably is, but all I can say for sure is that it is quite good).

Salmon Bento Box

Salmon bento box

Salmon bento box

The restaurant does not have lunch specials, but a number of items are suitable for lunch (assuming that you are not trying to get a very large meal). The Bento Box is what I usually like to get at Japanese restaurants because of the fact that there is a variety of items. Salmon Bento Box is the most expensive of the choices, and is the one I ordered. I was happy that they had a generous substitution policy, and one that I made was to get pot stickers instead of the spring rolls that come with the order. I think this was a good choice, although I imagine the spring rolls are quite good as well.

The salmon normally comes with a ginger sesame sauce which sounds very good, but I made a substitution here as well. When I saw “Tatsu’s legendary teriyaki sauce” listed for another item, I requested that this be substituted for me as well. This was my tie back to the old Tatsu Restaurant, although I do not recall ever ordering salmon there. The only thing that surprised me was that the sauce was even better than I remembered, and was far more complex and flavorful than I normally find with teriyaki sauce. I thought perhaps the restaurant made a mistake and gave me the ginger sesame sauce instead, but it did not taste like sesame and I do not think Aqua Reef is the kind of place to make mistakes like that.

The other thing that surprised me (in a good way) was that the salmon was actually red in color. The menu said it was wild Alaskan caught salmon, and the flavor was consistent with this, so the color was not a surprise once I started eating it. The portion size was not huge, but it was pretty substantial compared to the others I usually get in a Bento Box.

Overall Assessment
There is a wall in the restaurant displaying some of the awards and recognition Chef Tatsu has received, and the food fits with the type of information I saw. I read on the Internet that Chef Tatsu recently began management of the Restaurant at Sierra Grande in Truth or Consequences, and he has had several other restaurants in Las Cruces and other cities. I do not know him personally, but I think he must have special pride in Aqua Reef because of the fact that it is primarily a Japanese restaurant.


Some of Chef Tatsu’s awards and recognition

The only other comment I want to make is the fact that I have seen mixed reviews of Aqua Reef which held me back from trying it earlier. I am sure many of these people had valid points, and any restaurant is going to have some who like it and some who do not. It is expensive for Las Cruces, but after visiting many other cities I think Aqua Reef is a very good value for what you get. To me the restaurant was not just trying to be upscale, but it was genuinely good and really delivered what I want in a upscale meal. At the same time, though, it was still casual and down home, and made me feel like I was at the old Tatsu Restaurant.


Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$ for many items, probably $$$ for most people
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 16, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Salmon, Miso, Pot Stickers


Asian Food Details

Tea: Green or Jasmine (loose leaves)
Buffet: No


Special Ratings
star 5 Salmon Bento Box
star 5 Miso
star 5 Pot Stickers