By Marjorie Lilly
I recently reported on how Deming is fast becoming an arts and antiques destination (February 2006 issue). Left unanswered in that story, however, was where to eat in-between gallery hopping. Fortunately, Deming could already be considered a "food destination" because of the many great restaurants it has—especially Mexican, of course. Here's a sampling of some favorite places for dining, Deming style. (Note that restaurant hours change frequently; call ahead to make sure.)
Mil gracias to the many restaurant
owners who so open-handedly gave me samples of their best dishes. It
was a scrumptious, sumptuous culinary journey.
Adobe Deli—A very classy cowboy joint trying to be as unclassy as possible. It's loud, brash and friendly, with a big-screen TV covering an entire wall, a real windmill in one corner, and a bathtub by the front door. The onion soup is TDF (to die for); it's made with local St. Clair cabernet and gobs and gobs of locally made Acosta Asadero cheese on top. Owners Vicki and Van gave me a si--ling, tender, flavorful, "well-marbled" ribeye steak that could have fed me for a week, and was also TDF. Ask about the Roadkill Rabbit for $11. 3970 Lewis Flats Rd. SE, eight miles east of Deming, 546-0361. 6-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Bel Shore—Probably has the largest percentage of Mexican clientele and the hottest salsa in town. The enchilada with green salsa I had was great—it's basically Chihuahuan-style food played straight and true, with jalapeno peppers and lots of chile sauce. The decor is retro tapestries of dogs playing cards and Budweiser posters of bikini-clad babes. For those with a taste for authenticity. 1210 E. Spruce, 546-6289. 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
Camino Real—This is an old standby restaurant (OSB) in town that's been there for about 30 years. It has an especially interesting combo plate with a steak, an enchilada, a quesadilla, several slices of avocado and a roast jalapeno. Their soup of the day is sometimes calabacita (green Mexican squash) or green chile with potato. Their tres leches cake and flan are made literally in someone's home and are very good. 900 W. Pine, 546-7421. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
Campo's—Chef and owner Albert Campo was assistant chef at the Double Eagle Restaurant in Old Mesilla for 12 years, and his restaurant is one of the most sophisticated in Deming. It's on my Tourist Route when I have friends or relatives visit. On the traditional side, Campo's has a tender, mellow-tasting Barbecue Spare Ribs Sandwich (TDF) that's slow-cooked on cactus leaves in the style of his home state of Zacatecas. But he's cosmopolitan enough to have Salmon Crepes, Grilled Chicken Tuscan and Pasta Jambalaya, too. They've got several brands of beer and New Mexico wines. 105 S. Silver, 546-0095. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun.
Cano's—This is one of four restaurants in Deming owned by the Cano family, who came from Mexico City and worked their way up in restaurants and fields and cleaning houses. Members of the Cano clan now own La Parrilla, El Mirador and Tacos Mirasol in Deming, and there's even a Cano that owns Maria Bonita in Las Cruces. Cano's is the one where you feel most as if you're in Mexico, with sugar in bottles with a hole poked in the cap and lots of Mexican knick-knacks and fake flowers. It has a huge menu, with several things not seen in other restaurants, such as Tlacoyos and Michoacanas. Esteban Cano whipped up something he calls Banana in a Blanket—essentially a deep-fried banana—that is TDF. He says it's to take away the hot sauce flavor, and it comes free after every meal. 1200 W. Pine, 546-3181. 9 a.m.-10 pm. Mon.-Sat.
Cactus Cafe—Another of the old stand-bys in town with perhaps the longest menu of them all, specializing in seafood. There's a Mexican lunch buffet every day. 218 W. Cedar, 546-2458. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
China Restaurant—A change of pace from Mexican food. Tim Weber of X'ian Antiquities recommends the hot-and-sour soup and their pork and snow peas. He also says their fried rice and egg foo yung are especially good. 110 E. Pine, 546-4146. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Fri., 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sat., 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.
Deming Truck Terminal—This is a major, authentic truck stop, with showers, a truckers' TV lounge, and an enormous truck wash out back. It's also got a reputation for good food, as truck stops usually do—lots of traditional American stuff like BLTs, chili with corn bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, and Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy for $3.75, or a half-order for $1.95. It also has full American and Mexican plates. Their soup of the day can be great. 1310 W. Spruce, 546-8832. Open 24 hours.
La Fonda—Another OSB, with food geared for Anglos. The fajitas are their most popular dish, and the fajita burrito I had was huge and very good, if chile-less. They have a salad bar and seafood. A sopaipilla comes free with every meal. 601 E. Pine, 546-0465. 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Prime Rib Grill—As you might guess, this restaurant inside the Holiday Inn claims to have the best ribs in town. They also have filet mignon, sirloin steak and St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs on a varied menu by respected local chef Johnnie Baeza. Every morning there's a very nice buffet breakfast where you can choose the ingredients for your omelet and watch it being made (adults $4.95, kids $1.95). Professional pianist Juanita Werner plays on Sunday mornings, and a mandolin group plays Saturday nights. I-10 exit 85, east end of Pine, 546-2661. 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7-11 a.m. and 5-10 p.m. Sat., 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sun. (See complete review in the December 2004 issue of Desert Exposure.)
Irma's—It's got a pleasant decor, with carvings of sunflowers and lilies on the walls and on the back of chairs. The food is very good, and it's a nice family atmosphere. They have a super-specialty dish called parrillada (TDF), served in a charming silver food warmer in the shape of a fish about a foot long. It's a beef dish with green onions and a baked potato, and Muenster cheese is kept heated over a burner so you can dip the meat in it. They have a full seafood menu, too. 123 S. Silver, 544-4580. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Joe Perk Coffee Shop—A stylish coffee shop a block from all the galleries. Not much room inside, but a lot outside, with a beautiful swag of morning glories in the summer. It has the usual coffee-shop coffees, tea, Italian sodas and frappes, plus lavish sandwiches like "Artichoke and Smoked Gouda." They make fresh-baked croissants and cinnamon rolls on the premises, and have huge muffins that some people split four ways. 122 E. Spruce, 544-0141. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. plus karaoke until 9:30 p.m. Thurs.
Jumbo Chinese Restaurant—They have a good lunch buffet. Some of their favorite dishes are Sesame Chicken (Mandarin style) and Twice-Cooked Pork (Szechuan). Their Cantonese fried buns are something a little different, sweet and deep-fried. Tim Weber of X'ian says he likes their pot stickers, which are dumplings with pork and cabbage. 918 W. Spruce, 544-4538. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
El Mirador—The magazine Bon Appetit voted this excellent Mexican restaurant "best new restaurant" in a September 2002 roundup of neighborhood restaurants. The reviewer said "everything's really deep-tasting and elemental because of the kitchen's Native American touch." The owner is from Michoacan, but grew up in Mexico City and says the food is Mexico City style. She won't give away her "secret." All I know is that everything I've ever had there has been made with care and tastes very good. 510 E. Pine, 544-7340. 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Palma's Italian Grill—The menu comes from Palma Richmond's Sicilian recipes handed down from her grandmother. Sicilian food is strong on tomato sauce and crushed red pepper seed. Palma's is high-quality Italian food, with a couple of outstanding dishes being the Toscana Herb-Crusted Salmon Fillet and their Potato Soup with Italian Sausage (TDF)—"We wanted to change it but customers wanted it." Her husband/chef Harold walks around and sings Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs sometimes. There's a beautiful outside dining area. 110 S. Silver, 544-3100. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
La Parrilla—The glory of La Parrilla is their parrillada, which is different from Irma's version and definitely TDF. When you have four people, it comes with four kinds of meat: carne asada, beef fajitas, carnitas and alambre, all very tender and well-seasoned. The alambre was a discovery for me—it's beef roasted on a skewer with bacon, onion, bell peppers and cheese. Their tacos come with a delicious tray of condiments like salsa and cilantro. They have four kinds of aguas frescas, which come in a giant goblet with ice. Their lunch buffet is from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 1409 Columbus Road, 544-4443. 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.
Lucky Duck—Maybe I should have had the Salmon Carbonara, which owner Zach Bruton said was "probably the best" item. But I had the Gila Monster instead—a Cajun grilled chile cheeseburger—and it was great. The thing not to be missed, however, is the unique dessert (or snack) with the winning name of Duck Droppings, an allusion to the Deming Duck Races. These are large nuggets of Pizza dough dusted with powdered sugar, which Bruton says are like French "beignets," and they're sublime. Bring a friend or two or three to share them, because you get a lot. 1601 E. Pine St., 494-0895. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, to 9:30 p.m. Fri.
Patio Cafe—"The restaurant business is like truck driving," owner Terry Castillo says. "It gets in your blood." She opened this new Deming branch of her Patio Cafe in Columbus recently "because people begged me to." The original cafe was a tearoom she bought with menu items like "crab on a half avocado," she says. "That's not what people want around here. Hamburgers—that's all that people ordered." So her menu is dominated by huge gourmet hamburgers. She also makes soups herself like posole, Italian sausage or oyster. She has Italian sodas, hand-flavored sodas and milkshakes in five flavors. See complete review in the February 2006 Desert Exposure. Starlight Village Resort, 2020 Hatch Hwy. NE, 546-5990. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Primo's—A nice place to sit and talk, with private nooks and tasteful decorations—Diego Rivera reproductions and a swanky palm tree out front on Gold Street. 411 S. Gold, 546-0800. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
Rancher's Grill—A popular stop with the I-10 drive-by crowd, featuring burgers, steaks and other typical American fare. 316 E. Cedar St., 546-8883. 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Si Senor—A very standard OSB with a roaring business, especially during lunch. Enchiladas are a favorite plate, and sopaipillas are served with every meal. 200 E. Pine, 546-3938. 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.
Tacos Mirasol—This grew out of a tiny red trailer where they sold tacos, and where they still sell them in the summer. It's a good place for a quick, low-priced lunch in a squeaky-clean, tastefully decorated place. Their tacos are TDF because of the very flavorful Mexico City-style salsa they make with toasted tomatillos and chiles. But they say tortas are their most popular item. They have real limeade, Mexican brand sodas, and chocolate or banana shakes. 309 E. Pine, 544-0646. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
Teapot Dome—They've moved into a smaller space next to X'ian Antiquities. It's a lot cozier, but they have the same coffee, cappuccino, cocoa, tea, muffins and doughnuts they've always had, plus some Southwest books. They have a framed collage of photos of customers' pets, which they allow in the store "because there's no open food." 107 E. Spruce, 546-2828. 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Sat.
Marjorie Lilly lives in Deming and writes the