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Restaurants in Las Cruces, NM

Las Cruces is the big city of the Mesilla Valley, which is where the chilies grow. It’s also home to a branch of New Mexico State University, where the horticulture department is devoted to caring about them. South of town in La Mesa, you’ll find a humble restaurant in what used to be a family home, surrounded by fertile fields. It’s called Chope’s, and is one of the best places to savor Mesilla Valley’s long greens, the basis of the kitchen’s chilies rellenos. Stuffed with mild cheese, battered, and fried crisp, the fleshy walls of the pod are not particularly hot, but have a strapping vegetable punch. As for red chilies, they can be tasted in a purée that is made daily. You can’t get a bowl of chili at Chope’s, but the puree comes on the side of most entrees. It is a cream-thick opaque vermillion liquid that would be deemed insanely hot anywhere other than here in chile-growing country. In the town of Las Cruces several restaurants specialize in native foods, including one that used to have a sign on its wall saying “A day without chile is like a day without sunshine.” Las Cruces’ culinary landmark is La Posta de Mesilla, located in an old adobe building that used to be a stop on the Butterfield stage line. Here you find elegant versions of the state’s signature dishes: carne adovada, green chile enchiladas, a dish created here in 1939 — tostadas compuestas — and even that dish from over in Texas, chile con carne.

Las Cruces’s Most Famous Dishes

Blue corn enchilada, Christmas style -- with both red and green chile

Enchiladas

Chile pod with puffy fried coat is smothered with hot salsa

Chile Relleno

Salad plate includes slices of orange drizzled with dark balsamic vinaigrette.

Salads

Four cups of salsa, ready to apply to a meal

Salsa

Las Cruces’s Best Restaurants

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