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Loving local in Las Cruces


A big reason Life is Good in Las Cruces is the great local color and flavor throughout the Mesilla Valley.

We frequently hear the importance and value of buying local, and the refrain is even more true during the pandemic.

Buying local in Las Cruces means you often get something unique and well made.

You may think it’s harder and more expensive to buy local, but it’s really easier and more affordable than you realize.

Nov. 12, when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the state would go back to stricter lockdowns Nov. 16-30, I jotted down all the local places I’d been the previous week, and I continued keeping notes through Nov. 30.

Looking at my list, the number of different places on my list is 17, basically one different place for each day. This doesn’t count the times I went to one of these places more than once, and this only counts the places I went for food, beverages and household supplies.

Here’s the list: Corner Deli, Zia Café, The Bean, Milagro Coffee y Espresso, Paisano Café, Toucan Market, Chavira’s Market, Lorenzo’s Italian Restaurant, La Posta de Mesilla, La Nueva Casita Café, Le Rendezvous Café, Pic Quik, Chucky’s Food Mart, FARMesilla, Andele’s Dog House and Roberto’s. All these businesses are locally owned and operated.

If you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of money to spend in 17 days!” it would be if I’d gotten full meals for two people every day. However, there are lots of different ways to shop locally. Some of these stops were indeed for full meals, but I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need or hadn’t already planned to buy.

We are all watching our expenses carefully in the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and you can still do that while shopping locally.

Almost all these businesses have specials, both periodic and ongoing, you can use. In many cases, you can prepare most of a meal at home, and purchase sides, entrees or desserts from a local restaurant. You can purchase a big meal for dinner and save part of it for lunch the next day. In some cases, you can purchase an item or two ahead of time, freeze it and use it later. I did this for a couple of dishes for Thanksgiving. Hint: red chile sauce and carne adovada freeze really well.

If 17 other people did a similar list of 17 local places to patronize in 17 days, it’s almost guaranteed we’d see 17 different lists.

You’ll notice a lot of the places on my list are Mexican restaurants. Even though I have a stash of green chile in my home freezer, I can never get enough of the good green stuff, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone else prepare it, usually much better than I could.

And it’s not just the Mexican restaurants that offer green chile. At Lorenzo’s, you can order green chile in the sauce, on the pizza or just on the side. Milagro makes some nice green chile bagels and burritos. The Bean has a wonderful green chile cheddar scone. And Corner Deli has several green chile-centric sandwiches.

While we all are missing nice, sit-down dinners, there are some advantages to getting your meals takeout.

One, you don’t have to worry about how you’re dressed. I realize, given the casual nature of Las Cruces, it feels like this is often the case even when dining out. Two, if you strategize with the packaging and utensils, you still don’t have to do dishes. Hint: For most entrée packaging, you can remove the lid and use that as a second plate. Three, it’s faster. If you’re like me, you tend to linger at restaurants because of their relaxing nature. Meals at home tend to wrap up more quickly.

You’ll also notice not all on my list are restaurants. I’ve found almost everything I need to cook my own meals at Toucan Market, Chavira’s Market and FARMesilla, and I’ve not spent more than five minutes waiting in any lines.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, you may feel you have no option but to shop online. Remember, though, most of our local stores and gift shops also have online shopping capability. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m hopeful restrictions will lift enough for us to do at least some form of in-person shopping while we still have time to mail packages. Be sure to call your favorite places to evaluate your options.

I understand it can be difficult, and for some things impossible, to buy all local all the time. Some people crave their occasional Wendy’s Baconator, and many are eager to get their McRib fix. Just don’t forget there’s always a great local option.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit a new 17 local places in the next 17 days, but I’ll be giving it a try, and there are definitely way more than 17 options.

Get your local groove on today.

Richard Coltharp