Have you been imagining yourself eating pastry in the hub of a cobblestone plaza?
How about sampling a spicy noodle dish amid the hustle and bustle of an Asian metropolis?
Or savoring a dessert of Turkish coffee and baklava while overlooking the Mediterranean?
Experience the world without ever leaving Las Cruces.
Take your taste buds around the world by visiting one of our city’s many globally inspired restaurants. Grab your passport and get ready to depart on the trip of a lifetime. There’s no jet lag, so enjoy every bite!
A Bite of Belgium
When it comes to Belgian cuisine, waffles reign supreme. No trip to this Western European nation would be complete with out sampling this tasty delicacy. Right in the heart of downtown Las Cruces, A Bite of Belgium is famous for their Liege (pronounced “lee-age”) Waffles served traditionally with an array of delicious creams. The dough is prepared fresh daily with a Belgian-imported sugar that gives the waffles a decadently sweet consistency not found anywhere else, except perhaps in Belgium of course.
Choose from eight different flavors — Bavarian Cream is the most popular, but the 3 Cream Lemon Mousse and Strawberry Cream are worth a taste. Opt for a combo for a sampling of flavors; several come drizzled with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with caramelized almonds.
For other European-inspired fair, try a quiche or the rich, buttery brioche bread. For breakfast, have it toasted with eggs. For lunch, try it on a Belgian Burger topped with caramelized onions and Gouda cheese.
But A Bite of Belgium’s appeal is as much about the setting as it is about the food. “We have a relaxed atmosphere and our service is friendly,” says Jodie York, owner of the restaurant along with husband, Jim. “Part of our success is the ambiance.”
Indeed, while enjoying a meal in the cheery, sun-lit café, it’s easy to imagine looking out the window and seeing an expanse of Belgian countryside.
741 N. Alameda Blvd., #16
Le Rendez-vous Café & French Pastry
Growing up in Nice, France, Thierry Marceaux found his future as a chef shaped by the bakery owned by his father and the mix of cultures inhabiting the French Riviera coastline. He brought all that and more to Las Cruces’s only French eatery, Le Rendez-vous Café & French Pastry.
“My influences come from France, but also from other places, like New Orleans, where I lived for 18 years,” Thierry explains. “The food here transports our customers to France.”
Adhering to relaxed, European ideals, Le Rendez-vous refuses to rush their customers. Thierry says he wants his guests to sit and enjoy food, company, and conversation, just as they might while away an afternoon at a Parisian bistro. “At the beginning, people expected to come in and eat in 10 minutes, but our food is cooked to order, so we take a little longer, but they can be assured their food is fresh,” he notes.
An array of daily specials — think Beef Bourguignon, Dijon Leg of Lamb, and Coq Au Vin — pay homage to Thierry’s home country along with specialty quiches, soups, omelets, and full lunch and breakfast menus. The open kitchen allows an intriguing glimpse of the chef and his team at work.
Naturally, a French meal isn’t complete without an artful pastry, and Thierry offers up 45 made-from-scratch desserts. From the flaky French croissant (try an apricot or chocolate variation for an extra special treat) to macaroons and lemon tarts, it isn’t uncommon to catch customers lingering in front of the glass display case for an inordinate amount of time deciding which concoction to try.
2701 W. Picacho Ave
Santorini Authentic Greek & Mediterranean
The Mediterranean region offers a melding of cultures resulting in unique cuisines with bold, intense flavors. The owners of Santorini hail from Lebanon and they have melded their own experiences with the ethnic diversity of the region, taking cues from both Arabic and Greek heritages.
Step through the front door and the music and the aromas wafting from the kitchen immediately transport to another place. The menu is not only authentic, it’s also extensive and varied, catering to meat eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans.
Start off with a salad topped with a house-made dressing or a traditional lentil soup. Appetizers include all the regional favorites: tzaziki (cucumber dip), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) to name just a few.
As a main course, the hummus sandwich, served on a warm pita with lettuce, tomato and Kalamata olives, is a house favorite. The lamb gyro, on the student menu, is served with a generous amount of meat with a side of salad or chips and a drink. “We know students are on a budget so we have a menu just for them that includes our most popular items,” notes manager Tina Sandoval.
Finish off in true style with freshly ground Turkish coffee and a bite of something sweet, like a honey-laden baklawa. Santorini offers it in both walnut and cashew varieties.
No matter the order, the entire meal is bound to be something different and infused with exceptional flavor. Tina says, “We have customers that have visited Lebanon and tell us the food really represents the place.”
1001 E. University Ave E-3
Aqua Reef Euro Asian Cuisine
Whether it’s date night or a business lunch, Aqua Reef, the brainchild of famed local chef Tatsuya Miyasaki, is a guaranteed
pleaser. The dining space is small, but that’s all part of the charm. “The cozy, intimate space is meant to create more connection to the food and the people you are sharing it with,” says general manager Tiffany Mims.
Both the atmosphere and the food are a one-of-a-kind experience. This unexpected realm of food fusion straddles the border of two continents. “Because our cuisine is eclectic and we combine influences from the East and the West, for complex flavors and a unique menu, it is best to describe it as Euro-Asian,” explains Tiffany.
Menu selections range from salmon wrapped in rice paper and the most well-known of Japanese dishes, sushi, to a cilantro ceviche and a seafood paella made with an Asian twist in the form of Jasmine ginger rice and a special broth.
Looking for a quick and traditional Japanese lunch? Opt for a Bento Box; it’s one of the most popular items on the menu. Pick your favorite protein — chicken, beef, or pork — and also get an egg drop soup, a pot sticker, veggies, and fried rice. For special occasions, the Hot Rock is a show-stopping interactive experience cooking your own meal right at the table on a 500-degree hot stone.
“When I created Aqua Reef in 2008,” Chef Tatsuya remembers, “I wanted my customers to feel swept away to an exotic place to enjoy their favorite dishes from around the world.”
141 Roadrunner Parkway, Suite 115
“The smell of the food is very inviting and very important in Thai cuisine,” says Thailand native Thomas Feldt, owner of Thai Delight in Mesilla. “There is great association between Chinese and Thai food, but Thai is best described as tasty and spicy.”
New to the Thai experience? Get acquainted with the intricate flavors with a traditional dish of Pad Thai. This spicy and slightly sweet dish of rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and eggs is sprinkled with crushed peanuts and garnished with orange slices. As with most dishes on the menu, choose to include chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp and opt for mild, medium, hot, or the super spicy Thai hot.
Once initiated, move on to more intricate and bold dishes like coconut milk curries. Thai Delight has four varieties: Red, Green, Panang, and Massaman. Many dishes can be made to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free needs, and all are served with either miso soup or a salad (the tangy, house-made ginger dressing is quite tasty). The creamy, traditional Thai soups, like Tom Kah Gai and Tom Yum Gai, are served with a rice and hearty enough to be full meals themselves.
“Thai food is very flavorful and full of aromatic spices. Every dish is cooked to order, guaranteeing freshness.” Thomas notes. “It is one of the healthiest international cuisines in the world.”
2148 Avenida de Mesilla
Please keep in mind Covid-19 safety precautions and call ahead to make reservations and updated hours.
Written by Angela Simental • Photography by Donicio Madrid
Originally published in Neighbors magazine
Posted by LasCruces.com