Spring is the season in which nature finds renewal, colors become vibrant, the air carries the scent of blooming flowers, and sounds of animals that were absent or dormant again travel in the wind. The increased variety of fresh fruits and vegetables create opportunities for more robust recipes in our local restaurants, and the craving for lighter cuisine emerges as the temperature rises. Many wonderful venues in the Mesilla Valley’s restaurant community have talented chefs bringing delicious creations to a plate near you! If you are looking for inspiration to find tasty, light, and fresh cuisine, here are a few of my favorites around town.
Bite of Belgium (741 N. Alameda Blvd.) chefs are experts at making true Belgian waffles, with toppings that range from Oscar Wilde decadent to light and fresh. The Greek yogurt waffles allow you to enjoy the delicate airiness of the waffle when paired with tangy yogurt and fresh berries, while the crunch of granola adds texture and makes the combination the perfect bite!
The vegan breakfast bowl at Indulgence Café (2265 S. Main St.) is one of those delectable dishes that would make even committed carnivores have a hard time putting down their fork. Veggies and beans are the heart and soul of this dish, but for me, it’s the combination of red or green chile and avocado that makes each bite more addictive than the last.
The big orange door at the entrance to Santorini (1001 E. University Ave.) is the last obstacle before you reach some of the freshest food in Las Cruces. Mediterranean food is full of big flavor, and Santorini takes great care in bringing authenticity to every dish. The vegetarian sampler is a way to please everyone: My three favorites are the hummus, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki. It’s the perfect appetizer to share with friends.
Tacos & Shell-ah’s (1120 Commerce Dr.) is a recent addition to the Las Cruces culinary community. Their à la carte or mix-and-match options give the consumer the ability to match their appetite to their meal. The ahi tuna tostada is light, crisp, and fresh. Topped with sweet pineapple, fresh vegetables, avocado, and your choice of hot sauces, this dish is beautifully balanced. (I also recommend their chicharones, a slight indulgence, but they come to the table still crackling with a citrus pepper seasoning and fresh lime).
Boba Café (1900 S. Espina St.) is a hidden gem in Las Cruces, with many tempting options from which to choose when you are looking for something a little different. Their version of a vegetarian sandwich has roasted eggplant, peppers, and artichokes underneath melted Swiss cheese. Just try not eating every bite of this sandwich in one sitting. I dare you!
The chef at Pecan Grill and Brewery (500 S. Telshor Blvd.) has added a few lighter items to the menu for spring, and the standout addition is the tequila/lime chicken sandwich. The acidic citrus of the lime gives this juicy chicken sandwich the perfect pop, while the scintillating sear and hint of tequila provide a pronounced depth of flavor.
While the portion of the gyros at Tiffany’s Pizza (755 S. Telshor Blvd.) is enough to feed three people, every single bite has the crunch of fresh vegetables and a zing of tzatziki. The mushrooms and peppers in the vegetarian gyro give this lunch delight a unique bite like no other in town. The food at Tiffany’s will never let you down, but even more refreshing than the food is the warm feeling you get from the owners and staff from the moment you walk in until you leave with a smile.
Another example of favorite wrapped foods in Las Cruces is the Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls at Pho A Dong (504 E. Amador Ave.) restaurant. These rolls are served with a peanut sauce, but I prefer to just dip them in some soy sauce and sriracha sauce to accentuate the flavors in the noodles and veggies tightly wrapped along with fresh shrimp in the stretched rice wrapper.
The concept of Salud! de Mesilla (1800 Avenida de Mesilla) is to enjoy many different small plates, but if they offered a giant size of their blueberry salad, I would be rolled out the front doors like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This salad is a divine balance of sweet, salty, and crunchy, and they double down on the blueberries in their blueberry vinaigrette! I have tried to make it at home, but it just is never the same.
Willow + Blaine (118 N. Mesquite St.) is another new addition to the Las Cruces list of restaurants and has made a huge impression on our community. Its ambiance is unique in our area, and the food delightfully complements the well-orchestrated atmosphere. Their version of the caprese salad is delicate, gorgeous, and most definitely delicious. (Speaking of fresh, Chef Samuel Parsons brings in a guest chef who designs and executes a unique menu every third Tuesday of the month for that night only!)
Walking into Le Rendez-vous Café and French Pastry (2701 W. Picacho Ave.) and staring at the glorious treats waiting under the glass feels somewhat overwhelming. The airy macarons come in many flavors and are delicious, but fruit tarts, with their lustrous candied fruits, sweet custard, and flaky crust, are my weakness. These tasty tarts are made fresh daily by French-born Master Pastry Chef Henry, a man dedicated to confection perfection.
The Paleta Bar (2750 Mall Dr.) is well known for handmade tasty frozen treats and a ridiculous number of topping combinations; however, their aguas frescas are some of the most refreshing liquids in the Mesilla Valley, especially when temperatures start to rise. They come in three sizes, but none of them are large enough when high noon comes around. I just want to take the five-gallon jug home with an extra-long straw!
One of the most delicious drinks I had this past year was at Nessa’s Café (901 W. Picacho Ave.). This intimate restaurant has set the standard of offering fresh homemade food and daily specials. The coffee and iced tea are always done well; however, when available, their Brazilian limeade is like no other drink you will ever have. The sweet-and-sour concoction is light and creamy at the same time. Nessa’s is a great example of good things coming in small packages. Do yourself a favor and head on over there!
So many places offer tasty and refreshing foods and beverages across the Mesilla Valley, and we would love to get our readers’ feedback. If you know a place that has a fresh and delicious springtime dish or drink, please let us know on our LasCruces.com Facebook page.
Written by Daniel Gonzales
Photography by Amanda Gonzales
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com