One of two Nopalito Mexican Restaurants in Las Cruces

Enter the front room of this converted Baptist church and you’re greeted by white washed walls on which are inscribed significant dates in the history of Las Cruces. One notable date is July 1st, 1964, the date in which the Gallegos family launched their first restaurant venture–Nopalito’s.

So popular did that restaurant become that it moved to a larger location, the aforementioned site of a former church. It also expanded to another site. I first became acquainted with Nopalito’s when my sisters attended New Mexico State University in the late 70s and early 80s, but hadn’t been back since 1987. At first glance, not much had changed.

A history of Las Cruces on the foyer wall at Nopalito

The salsa isn’t as liquefied as many salsas in southern New Mexico seem to be, but was flecked with bits of onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. It is good, albeit lacking in bite.

During a visit home from college in the late 70s, my sisters introduced their Norteño family to sour cream enchiladas, a rarity in our part of the state. In honor of that introduction, that’s what I ordered at Nopalito’s. While highly tasty, the accompanying red chile was benign. I should have remembered that my sister Jean’s preference for chile is with as low a Scoville unit count as possible.

Nopalito’s pork chops are well seasoned but just a bit dry.

Nopalito’s doesn’t appear to be considered among the city’s top tier New Mexican restaurants, but it holds fond memories for me, the food is delicious and the wait staff treats you like royalty. Those are three good reasons to return.

310 South Mesquite
Las Cruces, New Mexico
(575) 524-0003
LATEST VISIT: 7 March 2004
COST: $$
BEST BET: Pork Chops, Sour Cream Enchiladas

By Gil Garduno

Since 2008, the tagline on Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog has invited you to “Follow the Culinary Ruminations of New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite.” To date, more than 1 million visitors have trusted (or at least visited) my recommendations on nearly 1,200 restaurant reviews. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it.

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