Las Cruces, NM
Just when I thought I knew all the best New Mexican restaurants in the Las Cruces area (with strong contenders such as Chope’s, Nellie’s, and Nopalito) I found that I had neglected a restaurant that has been open since 1957 and which gets top reviews. This restaurant, La Nueva Casita Cafe, can easily be overlooked since it is located on one of the city’s more obscure minor thoroughfares, and the low-key signage does not indicate that this is one of the city’s most popular spots.
In fact, I will say that the all important benchmark dish of red enchiladas is probably the best I have had in southern New Mexico, enough so that I do not think it is necessary to travel to northern New Mexico for a true taste of the state’s namesake cuisine. I would say the same for the chile rellenos at Chope’s, sopaipilla compuesta at Nellie’s, several dishes at Nopalito including the red an green enchiladas, and the numerous times at many restaurants when there is an especially good crop of red or green chiles with which several excellent dishes are made. I do miss the blue corn tortillas from the north and northern New Mexico has an impressive selection of outstanding dishes at outstanding restaurants from which to choose, but Las Cruces has a more than ample choice for some outstanding meals.
One thing found at La Nueva Casita that is not as prevalent in northern New Mexico is a large choice of south of the border cuisine, much of which is made with local chile to give it an extra flavor boost. My experience here indicates that this fusion of local and traditional flavors will come together quite well.
Chips and Salsa
The Chips and Salsa are the first indication that this is a solid New Mexican restaurant, with a flavorful and piquant sauce along with very good chips.
The Red Enchiladas at La Nueva Casita have a more dark and “earthy” color than most in the area, yet for me the flavor is among the best (if not the best), and can compete with any of the ones that have a brighter color. Based on Google Maps reviews I think a lot of the locals and other visitors agree. I thought the flavor was complex in a good way (which includes no obvious cumin flavor) with a heat level that approaches “5 chiles” without actually getting to the point where the spiciness overpowers the flavor. The beans also help to tone down the spice level.
If the red enchilada plate looks like a filling meal, that is because it is. I was so impressed by it, though, that I had to try the green chile as well. In order to fulfill my request the restaurant made a special item (not on the menu) of a Sopaipilla Compuesta with green chile served on a dessert sized sopaipilla rather than a large one that is typically used in a compuesta meal.
The green chile had a dark color corresponding to the way the red chile appeared. The green chile, though, in terms of flavor was about average out of the restaurants in Las Cruces that are really good (still excellent but I would not put it at the top of the list).
When I tasted the red chile here it struck me as being the best I have ever eaten. I do not know if this is really true, but I certainly recommend giving it a try.
Another outstanding feature here is the customer service, and how they were willing to make a dish for me that was not on the menu (the sopaipilla compuesta).
La Nueva Casita’s prices were lower than most, and I certainly feel that this is one of best values for the money anywhere in southern New Mexico.
Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Hours: Closed Tuesday; closed Sun evening & Mon. evening
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Serves breakfast (open at 9 am)
Most Recent Visit: May 22, 2023
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, Salsa, Chips
Mexican Food Details
|Sopaipilla Compuesta with Green Chile