For a while now, I’d been wanting to check out Paisano Cafe in nearby Mesilla, NM. I have been a real fan of moles ever since trying my first mole dish in San Diego a couple of years ago. Moles are typically complex sauces used in Mexican cuisine, and they are made with a variety of flavors and ingredients including peppers, spices such as cumin and cloves, tomatoes or tomatillos, garlic, chocolate, fruit, seeds, and/or nuts. When I saw that Paisano Cafe features four different moles to choose from, I put that place on our list! And the time had come.
Paisano Cafe is tucked into a space a little ways off the main drag in Mesilla, and so there’s plenty of parking available. The interior and exterior of the restaurant are attractive, and we were seated immediately upon arrival.
We ordered a California cab to start things off with, though we can’t recall the specifics. It was very nice and reasonably priced and our server also brought water with lemon.
For my entree, I chose the enmoladas (rolled enchiladas stuffed with cheese or shredded chicken, smothered with mole sauce and served with Mexican rice and refried beans). I went with cheese enchiladas and had a hard time choosing among the four tasty-sounding moles available. In the end, I went with the mole verde o pipian (toasted pumpkin seeds and tomatillo mole sauce with a hint of hoja santa, which apparently is actually root beer plant). Richard had several entree possibilities in mind, but after hearing the server’s description went with the gambas al coco (panko coconut breaded jumbo shrimp smothered with sweet and spicy Jamaica flower sauce served with mango-jicama guacamole and white rice).
Richard’s entree came with a salad which was good and fresh and served with his choice of dressings. He chose a house balsamic vinaigrette, which he said was “elegantly understated”! He also chowed down on a basket of tortilla chips and what appeared to be homemade dip or sauce. I was saving room for dessert (of course!) so didn’t try any, and Richard could not enlighten me as to what the dip/sauce contained. But he said that it was spicy and delish, and he finished up that entire basket o’ chips.
Entree time! Richard’s entree was beautifully plated, and he said that it tasted as good as it looked. He stated that it was quite unique (particularly with the Jamaica flower sauce), and it was the best coconut shrimp he has ever had. My enmoladas were fantastic. Oh yum. They had plenty of cheese, and the complex mole on top was just divine. I don’t use the word divine very often (in fact, maybe never ever before today) but I do love mole and this one was just so good! The refried beans were made from black beans and quite excellent, and I really enjoyed the rice as well. I did not leave one bite on my plate.
Richard was too full for dessert, but I was ready for some. There were several options to choose from (including some crepes), but I’m a carrot cake aficionado so went with that. I’m not sure that the carrot cake was homemade but it was delicious and nicely presented. The piece was a tad small for me, but there’s also probably no limit to how much good carrot cake I could eat in one sitting. This piece was good and moist.
We loved our meal at Paisano Cafe. The atmosphere and service were good, and our food was just excellent. I am looking forward to some return trips, so I can try out the other varieties of mole.