Las Cruces, NM
At first glance Matteo’s seemed to be a south of the border style restaurant rather than one serving New Mexican cuisine. After eating here, though, I am classifying it as New Mexican because of the chile. Both the red and green chile are spicy and flavorful to a degree I have not found in the restaurants of northern Mexico, and it is obviously local chile.
The great majority of the menu here, though, is south of the border style–primarily meat dishes. In this regard I think it is very much like Andele Restaurant in Mesilla–south of the border style with a few New Mexican items. At Andele my favorite item is tacos al carbon, a south of the border style dish. My dining companion at Matteo’s ordered a chile colorado burrito (another Mexican style item) and the feedback on it was very good. In fact, the chile on it was spicy and flavorful (as the one on my food was) and was obviously New Mexico chile. Thus, like Andele, the “Mexican menu” seems to have the best of both worlds–Mexican meat dishes with New Mexico chile.
This location of Matteo’s across from the NMSU campus was self service, which caused some issues for me (some of the reasons are explained below). The original restaurant in downtown Las Cruces may have the same food with a different setup, but I have not been there so I do not know.
By “self service” I mean that you go through a line, pick out what you want, and pay for the meal before sitting down. It was this last part that bothered me because I had to decide how much tip to leave before getting the meal. Of course it is voluntary but I felt pressured doing it this way. (I should note, though, that staff was very friendly and the service was good).
Chips and Salsa
Chips and salsa cost extra so I did not try them (I was so full from my meal that I was glad I did not get the chips).
My dining companion strongly recommended the chile colorado burrito, and it looked as good visually as it sounded from its description.
New Mexican Food
Enchiladas are served flat with chicken inside, and with your choice of sauce. I had asked for it to be “Christmas” with both red and green sauce (after all, who doesn’t like to have Christmas in June when the temperature is over the century mark). The chile (both red and green) is impressive with both a very good flavor and a high heat level. Like Andele, though, this restaurant had a rather strange cheesy, gooey liquid for the enchiladas’ cheese component. I do not mean strange in a bad way but just that it was different than most. The cheese neither melted nor got hard, so in this aspect it was very good.
While the red enchiladas at Andele had a cumin flavor, I did not notice the same thing here (so I definitely liked these better). For green enchiladas I prefer Andele, but the one here was very good (but just with an almost unexplainable amount of cheese).
They did not have iced tea, so I felt pressured into getting a $6 horchata (they also had some other flavors that frankly looked very good). On a brutally hot day as this was, though, an iced tea with several refills would have been very welcomed. The horchata, though, did the job.
The specialty here seems to be Mexican (south of the border) style meat items, but for any that have chile it will be the locally grown New Mexico variety. This chile was surprisingly spicy but I would have to call it one of the best features of the restaurant.
Everything about the restaurant seems to indicate it is trying to appeal to a younger crowd (such as university students) who may be in a hurry to eat or who do not want all the fuss of having a waiter bring you everything. I happen to think that this style of restaurant also has some disadvantages, but both the menu and the setup provide an alternative to the typical restaurants in Las Cruces.\
There are also locations in downtown Las Cruces and one that recently opened in west El Paso.
Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican and Chihuahua
Hours: Closed Sun.
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Jun. 19, 2023
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Green Enchiladas