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Matteo’s drinks and location good, food average

“Welcome to Matteo’s!” That’s the friendly greeting every customer gets at Matteo’s Mexican Food, one of the newer eating establishments to hit the University Avenue scene.

Blue Ocean, a mix of pineapple, chia seed and spirulina, appears on a table inside Matteo’s, a popular new restaurant near the NMSU campus. (Photo by Brandon Mangum/Kokopelli)

Located on University Avenue just east of Espina Street, Matteo’s has been in steady operation at its brick and mortar location since January of this year. Beforehand, the family-owned business operated via plate deliveries and a food truck, which is how its popularity sprouted.

The business’s popularity has transferred over to the new location, with long lines of people clamoring for one of the restaurant’s many menu items, including carne asada tacos, smothered burritos, keto plates and house-made aguas frescas.

Matteo’s Hatch green enchilada plate with “supreme addition” appears in its plastic serving container. (Photo by Brandon Mangum/Kokopelli)

Enter the Hatch green chile enchiladas, which are described in the restaurant’s menu as “three hand rolled corn tortillas stuffed with mozzarella cheese, smothered in delicious made in-house creamy enchilada sauce topped off with chicken breast.”

The enchilada plate includes the option to “make it supreme” by adding cheese, sour cream and guacamole.

“While the experience at Matteo’s is truly a unique one, especially for the Las Cruces market, there are many better selections for Mexican food in town.”

One beverage option is the Blue Ocean, a mix of pineapple, chia seed and spirulina, a dietary supplement.

Main entrees are served in plastic, compartmentalized containers along with mozzarella-topped beans, rice and the enchiladas themselves.

The beans and rice looked really good, but the enchiladas themselves just looked — at least in comparison to some other Las Cruces Mexican food establishments — average. Maybe it was because of the “supreme” additions, but the heat of the green chiles wasn’t there. The guacamole added to the creaminess of the enchilada sauce, adding to the heaviness of the dish. The rice was exactly what one would expect from Mexican restaurant rice: nice and flavorful. On the other hand, the beans needed a kick of salt and maybe some hot sauce to give them more flavor.

The agua fresca was truly the highlight of the meal. Nice and refreshing, the Blue Ocean had a sweet kick to it, most certainly due to the pineapple accents in the drink. The chia made its mark in every sip in an experience similar to drinking a cookies and cream milkshake from Chick-Fil-A.

The atmosphere at Matteo’s really sticks out, and is what makes the experience. The best way to describe it is a mixture of laid-back and modern. A wall of booth seating lines the back of the restaurant, with table seating available within and immediately outside the restaurant’s doors. Sunlight provides good lighting inside the restaurant.

While the experience at Matteo’s is truly a unique one, especially for the Las Cruces market, there are many better selections for Mexican food in town. Restaurants such as Si Señor and Andele’s offer greater selection and superior quality, which make them far superior restaurants. However, Matteo’s prime location across the street from the ASNMSU Center for the Performing Arts and its house-made drinks are definite pros. At the end of the day, though, Matteo’s only gets a 3.5 star rating out of five.

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