Magnificent Sprawling Hacienda— La Posta de Mesilla

Befittingly, La Posta is well-known for their authentic Mexican food. But a visit to La Posta extends far beyond a splendid meal. It is a rich cultural encounter where history commingles with the present and where olden days are seamlessly woven into the very fibers of the walls. It is an ambience that takes it’s diners on a mini excursion across the border to an old Mexican hacienda.

If they could, the walls–some dating back as far as the 1840s–would share some pretty extraordinary memoirs, most likely starting with the story of the oldest room in the restaurant, the Banquet Room on the northwest corner. The tiny space was the original room where La Posta first opened on September 16th, 1939. Everything from the adobe walls to the windows and doors, to the wood vigas on the ceiling, is original. Back in the day, the two blue doors in that room would remain open during business hours. The door facing north led to the cantina, now Billy the Kid Gift Shop, and patrons would walk across the street to buy liquor and come back and enjoy it with their meals—it was legal at that time! Even the vigas have a tale of their own. They made their way to Old Mesilla and eventually the ceiling at La Posta by way of the Rio Grande. The etched “M” indicated that they were to disembark in Mesilla, as they traveled from the south up the river to their destination.

Perhaps they would even talk about how they withstood the test of time and survived the many expansions necessary to accommodate the increasing number of patrons. Eventually, La Posta would acquire the surrounding establishments such as homes and other businesses. That was precisely the case with the home of the original owner, Katy Griggs Camuñez. Her home was right next door and after her passing, it was incorporated into the restaurant. The Blacksmith Shop and Harness Room was at one time Katy’s living room and the fireplace has been in that exact spot ever since then. Katy’s bedroom, which is now called the Blue Room, was also salvaged. The original thick adobe walls and wood floors where organically refinished and kept intact. The room even boasts a dramatic antique jewelry chest that belonged to Katy. Today, the very rooms she lived her life in make up part of the restaurant she loved and nurtured.

The expansion included the acquisition of a home that was between the Fountain Theater and La Posta. At one point the home belonged to the Gamboa family (Santiago Gamboa and Paula Marquez Gamboa), who has been established in Mesilla for many generations. Like many of her family members that have seen the renovation, Yolanda Gamboa Lucero points at the new bar and says, “I was born in that room.” Now, it is a stunning bar with ornate woodwork that skillfully compliments the antiquity of the reclaimed room. Here too, the original adobe walls and vigas were preserved and in some areas the adobe was kept exposed as if to allow the history of the Gamboa’s to circumvent throughout.

Conceivably the walls would confess their amazement at the 7,000 square feet that where recently added to the already massive 12,000 square foot restaurant. It now takes up half of a block on the Mesilla Plaza. The renovation gave La Posta a flow about it that allows for easy conversation and comfort for just hanging out. Although many rooms are quaint and cozy, with low ceilings and thresholds small enough to make an average person have to duck, there are also rooms for larger parties and an elegant banquet room to accommodate a group of up to 150 people. The territorial style was masterfully achieved with the addition of an enclosed patio and dramatic fountain where diners can enjoy their meal alfresco.

Owners, Tom and Jerean Hutchinson, did an amazing job capturing the timeless beauty and colorful imperfection seen throughout, making every view pleasant and visually stimulating. With the old finishes and antique furniture, they gave the space a sense of oldness. Tom and Jerean made every effort to respect the original penetrations of each room –such as windows, doors and nichos– to allow the renovation to stay true to the historical integrity of the building, while carefully selecting local artisans and contractors for all finishes. Finally, the aroma of mouth-watering Mexican food and Spanish music playing faintly in the background, lend themselves beautifully to the overall theme of the restaurant.

Not very many establishments in the town, city, state or even the nation can say that they have been around for more than 73 years, much less tell the stories that are sheltered within the confines of the walls. And, although the walls can’t actually talk, the essence of all those stories and all the people who have helped create them flows unobstructed within the magnificent sprawling hacienda that is La Posta de Mesilla.

Fall 2012
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