Fine New Mexican cuisine in a beautiful and historic building
First visit: December 31, 2011
La Posta de Mesilla is located in Historic Old Mesilla just two miles Southwest of Las Cruces, New Mexico, La Posta is conveniently situated on the Southeast corner of the Historic Old Mesilla Plaza.
Earliest records indicate the La Posta Compound was originally constructed in the 1840′s. Sam Bean and his brother Roy Bean, operated a freight and passenger service line to Pinos Altos from this building in the 1850′s. After the Civil War, The La Posta Compound became an important stop on the Butterfield Stagecoach Line. During the 1870′s and 1880′s, the Corn Exchange Hotel, one of the finest lodges in the Southwest, operated from the building. John Davis, the proprietor of the hotel, died in the late 1870′s, however, his wife Augustina continued to operate the hotel, a restaurant and other businesses in the building until the early 1900′s. La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant originated in the northwest corner of the building in 1939 by Katy Griggs Camunez. The business has grown to become one of the most famous restaurants in the Southwest, occupying 10,000 square feet of the La Posta Compound which now included several shops. After Katy passed away, the property and business was acquired by a great niece, Jerean Camunez Hutchinson and her husband Tom, a.k.a. “Hutch”, who continue to offer the same quality food and great service in the unique dining environment Katy created.
The restaurant offers many fine traditional “New Mexico” Mexican dishes make from century- old recipes handed down over the years from the Fountain, Chavez and Griggs families. One of the most famous dishes, the “Tostada Compuesta”, originated at La Posta in 1939. This dish consists of a toasted corn tortilla cup filled with frijoles, red chile con carne, topped with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes and grated cheddar cheese.
If you prefer green chile, the “Locals” favorite is the sour cream enchilada. This dish consists of corn tortillas smothered with green chile sauce, topped with grated cheddar cheese or Monterrey Jack cheese and sour cream, and includes refritos, rice and our very tasty Mexican slaw. Other La Posta favorites include our compuesta salad, red enchiladas, folded and rolled tacos, beef or chicken flautas, chile rellenos, as well as a wonderful selection of desserts including our very delicious homemade flan and empanadas. Perhaps one of our best kept secrets is our tasty succulent steaks, served with your choice of baked potatoes, red enchilada, or steak fries and includes a side of green chile (of course!)
Our New Years Eve dinner was quite a feast. We first visited La Posta more than a decade ago, and had forgotten that the serving sizes are huge. We ordered a lot of food. starting with chips and salsa, and I added a tumbler of horchata. The chips were fresh, warm, and lightly salted. The salsa, tomato based, was very tasty and fresh, and of medium piquancy. Delicious starter to whet our appetites. Horchata is the name of several kinds of traditional beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts (chufas). Various folk etymologies exist – one legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraia, was said to have exclaimed “Açò és or, xata!” (“That’s gold, darling!”). The version at La Posta is the vest I can remember having — That’s Gold.
Kerry and Matt stuck with Combo Plates, which they had had before. COMBINATION PLATE #1 has Rolled red enchilada, tamale, red chile con carne, rolled taco, frijoles, rice and garnish while COMBINATION PLATE #2 – has Rolled red enchilada, red chile con carne, two rolled tacos, frijoles, rice and garnish. Both are very tasty. Even the beans and rice are good, which is often not the case in many New mexican restaurants.
Jane chose the CHILE RELLENOS – Two whole green chiles filled with Monterey jack cheese, dipped in whipped egg white batter and cooked on the griddle till golden brown. Served with refritos, rice and garnish with special chile cheese garnish. Rellenos are one of her faves, and she was not disappointed with those served here. Both the taste and texture are excellent. Almost as good as those she would get at Marlene’s New Mexican Restaurant, one of our early favorites when we moved to New Mexico 3½ years ago.
I have developed a love of Carne Adovada. The menu touts BANQUETTE ELEGANTE – “A dinner of gourmet foods” – this one will be long remembered.” Starter of chile con queso, corn tortillas and guacamole salad. Your entree includes carne adobada, camotes Jalisco, refritos, rice and a sopaipilla. The camotes (baked sweet potato fries) were MIA, but no matter — there is too much on the plate to finish. The Guacamole and Chile Con Queso are both excwllent. But you need to restrain yourself lest you fill up before you tackle the main plate.
Aah. The Carne Adovada. Nearly every New Mexican restaurant makes a version of Carne Adovada. Few make as well as La Posta. I use this wonderful dish as a benchmark, and Pa Posta passes with flying colors. The huge portion of carne is surrounded by Mexican rice and frijoles refritos with a border od Lettuce and parsley garnish. The poek (random 0size chunks) is fabulous. It has the right texture — succulent, tender, and not at all stringy. The red chile is dark, complex, and of slightly more that medium piquancy. This is among the top ten Adovadas I have had in New Mexico (and I have had lots).
A basket of Sopaipillas appeared as we were finishing our entrées. To say that they are excellent might be an understatement. Pillowy, puffy, and perfect.
I didn’t finish the rice and beans, because I knew that La Posta is known for their dessert empanadas. Apple, cherry, apricot or mincemeat turnover served hot with ice cream. I, being in a festive mood, chose the mincemeat, and diet be damned. This beauty is incredibly delicious. Sweet, rich, and thoroughly decadent. Pray for my waistline. A perfect way to finish off a fabulous meal.
Many Urbanspoon reviewers claim that La Posta is too touristy, and dismiss it. Well, there were locals, their guests, and yes-some tourists eating there. Tourists have to eat someplace, and this is a wise choice because the food can be excellent. The service certainly is. To me, an objectionably touristy restaurant is one that serves mediocre food to hordes of people who are attending a business convention or taking a bus tour. Like El Pinto or Sadies in Albuquerque. La Posta is the real thing.
La Posta was clad in its Christmas finery when we last visited.
What others are saying
“Danny had one of the best steaks he’s ever eaten here last – the STEAK LA POSTA – Tenderloin smothered with green chile sauce, topped with melted Monterey Jack cheese. Served with a salad and a rolled red chile enchilada. About $15. There are plenty of other great choices for a lot less. This is a fun and busy historic joint with lots of talking birds in the common area – the building is from 1840, the restaurant opened in 1939. Nice decor and atmosphere. Good service and prices.”
“When Richard and I entered, we were struck by the colorful restaurant decorations (including the colorful holiday decor) as well as the festive atmosphere. Locals, tourists, and large holiday get-to-gethers were all being efficiently served by a friendly and competent wait staff. The restaurant itself is a maze of multiple rooms and dining areas, which I think just adds to the charm.
“We really enjoyed La Posta. The tasty food, the fun decor, and the festive atmosphere all combined to make it yet another great welcome for us to the Desert Southwest. While there are some additional restaurants in Old Mesilla that we plan to try, I have no doubt we will be returning to La Posta (and it will be a great place to take out-of-town visitors).”