No trip to the Mesilla Valley is complete without enjoying a meal at the Double Eagle in historic Old Mesilla. The restaurant, only steps away from the plaza, is like going back in time. Why? Once a family home, this building has witnessed the history of this corner of the Southwest. Built in 1850 and on the National Register of Historic Places, it features distinctive antique pieces from around the country and even is reputed to be haunted. We’ll get to that story soon!
Double Eagle — Best Steakhouse in New Mexico
It’s really the enticing aromas of the food being prepared by Double Eagle’s chefs that will likely haunt you. If you’re a lover of fine meats, you should know that the Double Eagle is home to the only temperature- and humidity-controlled meat aging room between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Ft. Worth, Texas. Here the meat is aged to perfection before being prepared by the chefs. Ribeye steaks will spend 45 days aging, and New York steaks will age for 50 days. On average, the meat will be aged in this room from 45 to 60 days, depending on the cut. This is one reason the Double Eagle has been named the Best Steakhouse in New Mexico by Business Insider magazine each year since 2015.
But that’s not all this fine restaurant has to offer. Since it’s in New Mexico, of course, you can find a range of Mexican food on the menu to enjoy when dining under the 18-karat gold-leaf ceiling of the largest room in the restaurant, the Maximillian Dining Room. This room features three dramatic seven-foot-tall Baccarat crystal chandeliers.
In addition to its fine dining menu, you can stop in for a more casual meal at Pepper’s, which features salads, the Mesilla Green Chile Cheeseburger, steaks, Kobe beef burgers, and vegan fajitas. Pepper’s is located is in a relaxing part of the building that echoes the patio it once was with a glass ceiling and plenty of green plants.
Double Eagle’s Award-Winning Bar
If you’re just stopping in for a drink with friends, you’ll be drawn to the Imperial Bar, an imposing piece originally at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. You can’t help but notice the wide range of top-shelf liquors available to mix your favorite cocktail. In fact, Double Eagle bartenders have been named the El Paso Regional Shake-off Champion three times! Tequila, of course, is always a favorite. Have a shot or order one of the award-winning margaritas from the menu! The bar also offers an extensive selection of fine scotch, and if you prefer a glass of wine, you’ll be glad to know the restaurant has won Wine Spectator awards for 14 years straight. If you enjoy Champagne, the bar also offers many fine choices.
A Family-Owned Business
These awards and acclaim are thanks to the family leadership of the restaurant. C.W. “Buddy” Ritter has owned the Double Eagle for more than 40 years. Buddy’s family has been in the Mesilla Valley for seven generations and the sixth generation, which includes his son Win Ritter, is the Double Eagle food and beverage director.
It seems appropriate for a family-run restaurant to be in a building that started life as a home. A successful Mexican family initially lived here (Mesilla was part of Mexico until the Gadsden Purchase moved the border in 1853). That haunting that was mentioned earlier? There’s quite a story that goes with it!
The Ghost Story
The Maese family, which was in the import-export business, first owned the house and they had grand aspirations. Señora Maese had plans for her teenage son, Armando, to marry into a wealthy Mexican family, but unbeknownst to her, he had fallen in love with their beautiful servant, Inez. One day she stumbled upon them together in his bedroom and, in anger and dismay, stabbed them to death with her sewing shears. Armando and Inez are said to haunt the Carlotta Room to this day. Fortunately, they are playful ghosts, appropriate for the star-crossed young lovers they were. Be sure to look for the wear in the chairs in the Carlotta Room — even though nobody sits in them! Read the entire story here.
After being the home of various Mesilla families, in 1972 the building was purchased by Robert O. Anderson, founder, and president of Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and at one time the largest single landowner in the United States. Anderson hired family friend John Meigs to decorate the building, so Meigs scoured the country to find dramatic pieces of antique furniture and added the gold-leaf ceiling to the Maximillian Dining Room. (Interesting note: Meigs lived in Hawaii before moving to New Mexico. In Hawaii, he used his artistic talent to paint more than 300 designs for the burgeoning “Alohawear” industry and is known as the “little father” of the Aloha shirt.)
Soon, Buddy Ritter came into the picture. After managing his family’s business, the Lodge at Cloudcroft, he dove deep into the hotel and restaurant world. Over the years, he owned four hotels, two breweries, and 14 restaurants. In 1984, Ritter purchased the historic Mesilla property and turned it into the Double Eagle, named for the $20 gold coin. Ritter continued improving the property and buying the beautiful antiques that add to the singular atmosphere of the restaurant as well as bringing in leading chefs to develop the menu and the restaurant’s fine reputation.
The Carlotta room is one of the most popular dining spaces in the Double Eagle, visited by all of New Mexico’s governors over the last 40 years, Ritter says. Another dramatic space is the Gadsden Room, which features stained glass from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, a portrait of James Gadsden, an envoy extraordinaire to Mexico, and copies of the first and last pages of the Gadsden Purchase agreement he signed, which brought Mesilla and about 30,000 square miles of present-day Arizona and New Mexico into the United States.
The Double Eagle can accommodate parties of eight, 14, 20, 30, 60, and 100 in the restaurant’s largest room. Whether for an intimate dinner for two, a grand wedding reception, or something in-between, you can enjoy your meal surrounded by Southern New Mexico’s fascinating and rich history.
Double Eagle Restaurant
2355 Calle de Guadalupe
Mesilla, New Mexico
Posted by LasCruces.com