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The Salud! de Mesilla dessert menu lists one unforeseen and delicious surprise after another.

Can I tell you a secret?

Actually, it’s a truth you’ve probably already discovered, but here it is anyway:

Great experiences, rather than expensive things, make the best gifts.

This truth has been proven over and over again in my life. The last time was on my birthday a week ago.

It happened at the Salud! de Mesilla, one of the newer restaurants in the Las Cruces town of Mesilla, natch.

The place is not fancy ~ no one goes looking for that, really.

But we do go for “classy.” And the place is that.

The classy service began when we walked through the door late morning, a gal was there to greet us.

Morning and WELCOME!  Where would you like to eat ~ inside or outside?

The outside dining area is covered, protected from the sun. The seating is bar-height and the perfect perch from which to enjoy the beauty of Mesilla with your meal.

But we ended up deciding to stay indoors since I’ve got the kind of blood mosquitos cannot resist.

No matter. Indoors or out, the food is the thing.

And I found each dish of food at Salud! de Mesilla a surprise, a unique gift you get to unwrap.

What will be your first delicious surprise at Salud! de Mesilla? 

A wooden cutting board covered with what the restaurant calls “rainbow bread.” Pretty to look at with a texture similar to pumpernickel.

Rainbow bread with blended butters, the first delicious surprise of a Salud! de Mesilla meal.

A small container filled with two kinds of butter came with it: bacon and bourbon blended in one kind, the other butter had jalapeño pepper mixed in.

While my husband began to plow into the bread and butter I took my first sip of the restaurant’s specialty mint tea.

Salud! Specialty Tea, a delicious surprise you can drink at Salud! de Mesilla.

Whoa! This tea is almost TOO cold and refreshing if there is such a thing.

If you’ve EVER liked mint tea, what comes in a glass of “Salud! Specialty Tea” will put you over the moon.

I was smiling and looking forward to what would come next. 

That’s when my hubby’s dish arrived, the “Steak & Eggs” from the breakfast menu. It happens to be “gluten-free” although he’s not.

Steak and Eggs, a gluten-free and delicious surprise served at Salud! de Mesilla.

He said it was delicious and I asked for a sample of steak, just to confirm his report. And yes, the steak was VERY good!

Then my gluten-free “Salud! Beignet,” also from the breakfast menu, arrived.

Made with roasted corn and duck confit, warm and chewy orbs of comfort food.  My first taste was mmmmmmm.

Since I did not want it to end, I savored each bite S-L-O-W-L-Y . (Actually, that’s how I would end up consuming each dish.)  

Eager to try some of the jalapeño butter on a beignet, I spread some on a couple of forkfuls. Marvelous. 

But I tell you, NOTHING could taste better with these beignets than the maple syrup they’re served with.

Except for more maple syrup.

I sopped, ate, and sighed until all the syrup in my dish was gone. Then after they delivered another helping of syrup, sopped, ate, and sighed some more.

Salud! Beignet ~ this gluten-free pastry dish is a satisfying and delicious surprise on the breakfast menu at Salud! de Mesilla.

What delicious surprise was for dessert?

Oh, the “Prickly Pear Cactus Crème Brûlée!”

Topped with strawberries. I’ve never tasted a crème brûlée like this before. Certainly have never tasted any creamier.

The Prickly Pear Crème Brûlée ~ could it be Salud! de Mesilla's most delicious surprise?

And so many textures and tastes fused together in this one: hard and crunchy, sweet and creamy, sweet and tart. Where the strawberry sweet-tartness left off and the prickly-pear citrus took over . . . I don’t know.

Everything, from beginning to end, was SO good and unexpected. I came away from the table feeling . . . pampered.

Last week happened to be my birthday, but I can see coming back here to eat for other special occasions. 

Let’s see . . . . .  why not a “Happy Third Wednesday of the Month” celebration? 

Now, I’m liking the sound of that. . . . how about you? 

Salud! de Mesilla keeps the delicious surprises coming with fresh flavors, cool combinations, classy decor, and good service.

The love shown to gluten-sensitive diners by providing multiple options in every menu category is the icing on the top.

Best of all, while the experience was over the top, the cost was not. (The bill for the goodies above PLUS a bottomless cup of joe came in under $30.)

All of these things combine to make Salud! de Mesilla a stand-out dining experience.

And in the Southern New Mexico town of Mesilla, a place already swimming in fab eateries, that’s not easy to do.

Salud! de Mesilla, where every meal is a delicious surprise.

Salud! de Mesilla, 1800 Avenida de Mesilla, Mesilla, NM ~ 575.323-3548 ~ Sun 8a-10p, M & W 11a-9p, Th 8a-9p, F & Sat 8a-10p, closed Tuesdays.

Where did you celebrate your last special occasion?