(From my travel archives) I was told that the Double Eagle was so famous, it would be worth an hour drive out into the country to Mesilla (“Little Tableland”), which, once upon a time, was the largest town between San Diego and San Antonio. Now it’s a suburb of Las Cruces.
It’s surely played its part in history, it was a stop on the famous Butterfield Stage Line; the site of the signing of the Gadsden Purchase; the hangout of Billy the Kid, and subsequently, the courthouse where he was tried and sentenced to hang.
Besides its heritage, its architecture and magnificent town plaza, anchored by the San Albino Church, remain to this day. As does the Double Eagle, which is housed in an adobe that dates from the 1840s.
The architecture and artifacts are nearly as captivating as the cuisine. Most impressive is the hand-carved 30-foot bar with Corinthian columns in gold leaf. You can also enjoy your meals in the very impressive Maximillian room, beautifully adorned with Baccarat Crystal chandeliers, Tiffany style stained glass windows, and French drapes fashioned from silk damask.
It’s almost enough to make you not look at your plate, but look you must, because the presentations of Southwestern influenced nouveau cuisine are truly impressive.
I started with the Double Eagle’s ceviche, which was just to my liking. Enough cilantro and lemon juice to make the shrimp and whitefish especially tart.
Next up with Posole Taos Style – a heart stew of pork, green chilies and hominy. Spicy and smooth at the same time.
Accompanying both dishes was Tapa Cura, a “shallow” version of the traditional 7-layer dip: black beans, guacamole, tomato, purple onion, shredded cheese and slice jalapenos. It was served “feathered-out” on a salad-sized plate, instead of the usual “deep dish” method, and was a great addition with the fresh home made tortilla chips.
We tried two entrees, Columbia River Salmon, flown in fresh, gently grilled and drizzled with an orange-chipotle sauce, which had a bite and was sweet at the same time.
For a beef entrée, Steak Pepe, dainty slices of filet sautéed in tequila and green chilies. The deglazed sauce didn’t overpower the natural richness of the beef as I had feared.
I’m always a sucker for Pecan Pie, and “Armando’s” didn’t disappoint. They wouldn’t tell me their secret ingredients, of course, but the generous slice came bathed in a silky crème caramel sauce that was lovely.
The Double Eagle is open every day of the year, and is just south of Las Cruces, and an hour north of El Paso. It’s a great place to have lunch before setting off on an expedition of the nearby White Sands Missile Range and other nearby natural attractions. (Photo from restaurant’s website).