Saturday, the first day of December, El Paso hit a high of 75° (24° Celsius). The skies were sunny, with nary a cloud to be seen. Fall colors were nearly gone, but still lingering. This can mean only one thing in the Wicker household — ROAD TRIP!
Out came the roadster, in went the wife, and off went the two of us.
Last week it was roadstering through El Paso’s fall colors. Before that it was roadstering along El Paso’s Mission Trail, and before that a road trip to the Las Cruces Renaissance ArtsFaire. Where would we go on this, the first day of meteorological winter, with the temperatures so nice? We’d been to Mesilla, New Mexico, several times this year, and Ursula was growing bored with the same old route through the pecan orchards and farmlands, so this trip I opted for a slightly less scenic, slightly quicker route that would still avoid I-10. I also wanted to find something different to do once we got there so, after a little research I quickly came upon Mesilla Valley Bosque Start Park via Texas State Highway 20/New Mexico State HWY 478, followed by a turn west on HWY 373 at Mesilla Park for Old Mesilla and lunch.
There are several really great restaurants in Old Mesilla, but none is as picturesque nor has the ambiance of La Posta de Mesilla established in 1939 and residing in an adobe building dating back to the 1840s. La Posta was one of our favorites when we moved to the El Paso area over thirty years ago, but it had a bad run fifteen to twenty years ago when the food quality slipped, so we quit going for several years. Then, a few years ago, the owners redid the kitchen and, just this year, finished with a complete remodel of the interior of the building and its many charmingly intimate dining areas. Well, I’m here to tell you that La Posta is back and better than ever. Everything from the food to the dining environment are just wonderful.
When you first walk into the building you are greeted with a long corridor lined with various shops. At the end of the corridor is a large, open room with various bird cages containing many colorful and exotic species; a couple of aquariums, one of which contains a piranha; a beautiful tiled wall fountain; and the hostess station. Click on any of the images below to see a larger version:
The remodel of the many dining rooms has been a great success, with each having its own distinguishing charm. Click on any of the images below to see a larger version:
At the table we were greeted with the traditional tortilla chips and salsa that are expected in Mexican-style restaurants in this area. The salsa was very garlicky with just the right amount of spicy heat. The chips were exceptional — tasting of corn, yet with almost the crunchy texture of a flour-based tortilla chip. They were light and not greasy in the least.
For our respective main courses we diverged in tastes. Ursula selected the Combination #2 — a rather traditional New Mexican-style platter containing a rolled red enchilada, red chile con carne, two rolled tacos, frijoles, rice and some very tasty charro-style beans. I, on the other hand, went with the decidedly pedestrian pick of ground beef tacos accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans (frijoles), but there was nothing pedestrian about the taste. The beef was perfectly seasoned with just a hint of cumin. The shell was fried to perfection. The cheese, lettuce, and tomato were in near-perfect proportions, nicely complementing the beef without overpowering it. For dessert we opted for a couple of sopapillas and warm honey. A sopapilla, for the uninitiated, is a piece of flattened dough that is flash-fried in very hot oil so that it puffs, forming a large pocket in which to hold the honey after you poke a hole into it. The honey container, by the way, had been kept in a hot water bath so as to make it easier to pour — something I’ve never seen done at other restaurants, but a technique that is very effective and diner friendly.
On Wednesday I will share with you pictures of our road trip to Mesilla, including some very colorful photographs of chili ristras, fall foliage, the Basilica of San Albino, and the charming buildings of Old Mesilla itself. Friday we’ll take a look at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. Until then, let’s hope this weather holds for yet another exciting roadster trip.