Once upon a time, enjoying Las Cruces farm to table dining meant shopping the city’s world-class farmers’ market and preparing the meal yourself.
Now diners in search of a cuisine as fresh as it gets have another option. It’s a restaurant in Downtown Las Cruces that goes by the name of Dragonfly.
From the first I heard of the owner’s vision to serve cuisine from local sources and to decorate with local artwork as well, I was on board.
Way to go, Tracy Baker! I cheered, even while I half-wondered and half-hoped, Will she be able to pull it off?
I also wondered, What’s with the name, Dragonfly?
At last, a clear answer to my first question came with the restaurant’s September opening and my first visit soon after.
Dragonfly restaurant, at first sight
To find Dragonfly, head to Main Street between Las Cruces Avenue and Griggs Avenue, across from the Plaza de Las Cruces. Then scan the block for the restaurant and be prepared for what you won’t see.
There’s no obvious signage with the name Dragonfly.
And there’s certainly no neon sign flashing, Eat here or you’re gonna kick yourself later. (Though maybe there should be, more about that later.)
What you do see is a sculpture of a green-winged insect atop the storefront. And they’ve decorated the door below with series of carvings, like the curvy shapes you see nature depicting, flowers, plants, and the most beautiful insects.
Dragonflies, as insects go, are beautiful and graceful.
So . . . ok, this is a place designed for people who value beauty and grace. Could this be why they named it Dragonfly?
As we approached the doors, a fellow I would come to know as “Ron,” was standing there. So, I asked him ~ just to be sure ~ if the restaurant was open. Yes, it was, and he invited us in.
Once inside, we confirmed right away that the ambiance was beautiful.
A quartet of warm smiles greeted us from the service staff. The decor is sleek, comfortable, and modern.
One of the staff invited us to sit down and choose our preferred seating. Booth or table?
No one has ever proven food tastes better when eaten from a booth seat, but . . .
I looked left to see there was a section of seating with tables and chairs only, no booths. Sunshine filled that room, thanks to the front windows.
But then I opted to stay in the main dining room area. Because, well . . . who doesn’t luv a cozy booth?
Fellow booth lovers know what I’m talking about.
From my seat, as far as I could see, were booths all the way across the room to where a trio was playing jazz.
And the wall art I had noticed on the way to the table was a delight to behold closeup.
It is a mural of the Organ Mountains by Wayne Suggs and covers the entire north wall of the dining room.
With an image the Organ foothills so close I could touch them, I remembered the owner’s vision to decorate her restaurant with local art.
Art doesn’t get more local than this.
The menu, too, is a piece of art, though on a much smaller scale.
When the menu comes, you’ll see it is one large card, with starters, sandwiches, salads, mains, and beverages listed on one side and desserts on the other.
And, like me, you’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief. This is not a restaurant trying to be all things to all people, offering so many items on the menu it can’t possibly do them well.
This Las Cruces farm to table dining establishment has an ultra-flexible menu.
The menu offers multiple options in each of the categories.
These include several naturally gluten-free menu dishes, so gluten-sensitive people can order with ease.
Other dishes can be made gluten-free by substituting with gluten-free penne or gluten-free bread.
There is also a wide variety of salad dressings made in-house as well as garnishes, such as grilled onions, you can add to whichever dish you choose.
And since every Dragonfly dish is built-in-the-pan, made fresh with each order, you’ll find it easy to have any stated menu item removed from your dish.
So no worries if you or anyone else in your dining party is gluten sensitive or a vegetarian ~ or both. She can find something suitable to order from every category, and eat some of everything.
Dragonflies, they say, like to eat some of everything.
And although I’m not a dragonfly, after studying the choices on the menu that day, I sure did want to eat some of everything.
But, in the end, I opted for a burger on a bed of greens with its side of housemade fries.
Dragonfly also serves frites, specially seasoned fries, as a starter. I’ll surely order these next time . . . but I digress.
Hubby L. went with the Dragonfly Hot Brown. Just the name of this dish had me swooning.
Actually, I had spied it on the menu first and recommended it to him. Because it was essentially steak and eggs, perfect for a guy who enjoys eating breakfast no matter what time of day it is.
And so we ordered and waited, and not very long at that. Our total wait time would be less than 15 minutes ~ fast.
Speaking of fast, did you know the dragonfly is the world’s fastest insect, capable of traveling up to 35 miles an hour?
Yep. I looked it up.
Anyway, during our short wait, the staff showed itself stellar in delivering attentive service. Esmeralda, our server, approached us to check whether or not the band’s music was too loud for us.
We enjoyed made-to-order music with our made-to-order meals.
Yes, a bit, we replied and next thing you know ~ like magic ~ the volume went down.
Then the same fellow who had welcomed us at the door came by to chat and see how we were doing. By this time, I’d surmised by the “Ron” on his name tag, that he must be Ron Nestle, the owner’s brother and operations manager.
And then voilà ~ another server appeared with L’s plate in one hand and mine in the other,
Not sure whose plate looked prettier.
But no need for envy, L had already assured me I could have a bite of his meal.
Although I was more than pleased with the looks of my dish.
My “medium” burger was exactly that. Cooked per-fect-ly.
And so were the fries ~ all slightly crunch on the outside and some of the longest I’ve ever seen. Meaning there was more of each one to love.
They both tasted super fresh but, after my second bite of each came the thought that chef had played it a little too much on the safe side with the seasonings.
In fact, I didn’t taste any seasonings at all.
But fine, there was salt on the table. I reached for the salt shaker and then ~ WHAMMO ~
the full meaning of built-in-the-pan hit me like a big plate of . . . slightly crunchy French Fries.
Here’s what built in the pan really means and why it matters.
Built-in-the-pan not only means your meal is prepared on the spot, that they will never serve you food prepared in advance then zapped by a microwave. Nor does it merely mean you can opt to add this garnish or sauce and leave out another.
It also means that if you want salt or some other seasoning added into your burger and fries, you need to ask for it.
Never mind, I’d never tasted a fresher-tasting burger and fries. So I kept eating. That plate was NOT going back to the kitchen.
Though it’s easy to see how someone seeing me shake salt onto my burger and fries like a crazy woman might think I didn’t like the food, I was actually thrilled with the quality.
And in the process of trying all available seasonings, I discovered the sweetest ketchup ever in the tiny pot on my plate.
Ketchup this sweet is proof that tomatoes are indeed fruit, not vegetables.
Meanwhile, L. had demolished his Dragonfly Hot Brown. I wasn’t surprised. It was steak and eggs, after all, so it never had a chance.
He put a fork in the last of the steak and mentioned that his meal had been surprisingly good and filling for the price.
And I agreed. The cost of both our meals at Dragonfly came in under $21 before the tip.
About desserts and unraveling the mystery of the name Dragonfly
We didn’t have dessert this time out, but Dragonfly has a variety of classics including chocolate chip cookies, brownies, ice cream, and cheesecake. Aces in the Hole, the same makers of the oh-so-luscious gelato sold at Sam Steel Cafe, provides most of these.
Will we be back?
Yes, and you’d better believe I plan to speak up about adding a bit of salt and some of those grilled onions. I mean, if they serve a burger and fries tastes THAT good without any additional ingredients whatsoever, I imagine their burger and fries with all the trimmings will be epic.
No matter what you order, you can expect:
- excellent service.
- attractive furnishings and decor.
- soothing live background music.
- menu variety.
- dishes prepared with the best local ingredients.
- dishes prepared with skill.
Now, do you see that? Those are SIX good reasons for you to dine at Dragonfly.
And, did you know that dragonflies fly in SIX different directions? That they can move upward, downward, backward, forward, and from one side to the other ~ like the Batmobile?
Ok, I give up. You can’t blame a gal for trying.
Short of asking her, I may never know why Tracy Baker chose to name her restaurant, Dragonfly.
But there are two things I do know about the restaurant itself:
- It’s where fresh is a flavor.
- And where plain food, when prepared with the finest FRESHEST ingredients, tastes plain GOOD.