Las Cruces Magazine

Fall/Winter 2015-16

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Page 89 of 107

90 I La Nueva Casita Café, nestled in the historic Mesquite district, has been a popular place for Mexican family cooking since 1957. Melissa Salazar and her father, Jaime Salazar, have co-owned the restaurant for 10 years. Jaime grew up in the neighborhood, and he's intent on keeping their family's traditional Mexican cooking on the menu. "This is a family-owned and operated restaurant," Melissa explains. "Our recipes come from my dad's 31 years of experience." The café boasts the number one spot on Trip Advisor's best Mexican restaurants in Las Cruces list. They serve abuelita's, or grandma's, cooking, meaning home- cooked meals from recipes that have history. "People feel welcomed here, and I think that's the main reason we are number one on TripAdvisor," Melissa says. "People feel like they are having a meal at home." La Nueva Casita is well known for its meaty caldo de res, a stew served with chunky pieces of meat and bone with vegetables. This family recipe is made fresh every day. "It is the first thing we put on the stove when we come in," Melissa confirms. "We decide how much to make depending on the weather. When it is cloudier, we know patrons will want to have a caldo either with their entrée or as the main entrée." It takes about two hours for the caldo de res to seep in all the flavors. Ingredients are gradually added to maintain the tenderness of the meat and the juiciness of the coarse-chopped vegetables. The steaming bowl of meat, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage is topped with fresh cilantro and served, as is customary in Mexico, with corn tortillas, lime, and Spanish rice. For another heart-warming option, try a bowl of sopa de fideo. The tomato broth with tiny, light pieces of pasta-like fideos can transport to your grandmother's kitchen with one taste. CALDO: in Taste Test Mexican cuisine there is an intrinsic relationship between food and feeling. My grandmother says there isn't anything caldo can't cure. Even in sum- mer, she says, it sweats off all the negativity. And, I believe it. In fact, any time I have any ailment, I crave my grandmother's soup. It instantly makes me feel better. Las Cruces has a niche of traditional Mex- ican restaurants, and opting for a hot stew, usually guarantees a taste of a family recipe. And, if you are like me, just the aroma invokes memories of grandma preparing a meal among huge, steaming pots and pans. Maybe it's the comforting feeling. Perhaps it's the sense of home. Whatever the case, warm stew is a Mexican staple any day of the year. There are different types of caldos, and, thankfully, no shortage of options to sample right here in Las Cruces. La Nueva Casita Café 195 North Mesquite street 575-523-5434 tues. - sat. 8am - 8:30pm sun. & Mon. 8am - 3pm La Nueva Casita Café: Heart-warming Tradition Soups for the Soul Written by Angela Simental • Photography by Donicio Madrid

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