Serve It Again, Sam
By David A. Fryxell
We can't recall much about the food, if any, that Rick's place in the movie Casablanca dished up; truth is, we've always been too fixated on Ingrid Bergman to notice. There are no such distractions at the new Restaurant Casablanca in Las Cruces, a homey, pleasant little eatery in the former home of Sweet Indulgence on El Paseo, but this Casablanca definitely does serve food. If your tastes run to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, if you crave falafel and hummus—heck, if you can spell "babaganooj"—you must remember this restaurant.
Lunch and dinner both feature a varied menu of salads (taboule, chicken, tuna or Greek, each served with a baked pita, $3.49-$3.99), sandwiches and specialty plates. Casablanca is a good choice for those of the vegetarian persuasion, with a half-dozen different vegetarian sandwiches offering various combos of the aforementioned falafel, hummus and babaganooj ($2.99-$4.25) or a layering of red peppers, olives, artichokes and Swiss cheese. Or you can opt for a vegetarian plate (taboule, grape leaves, hummus and falafels, $6.99). The "specialty plates" on the back of the menu also include a couple of all-veggie choices, the Arabic Plate ($5.99) and a falafel plate ($6.29), which adds a Greek salad and choice of side dish.
Carnivores need not panic, however. Our baked skinless chicken plate ($5.99) looked so delectable—and it was—that the fellow at the next table asked what it was and ordered the same. (We noticed that he cleaned his plate, too.) Next time maybe he'll try the Shawarma Plate or Spicy Basmati Rice with chicken (both $6.29). Saturdays only you can also get Chicken Couscous ($6.25).
If you have somebody along who just isn't daring enough to try Middle Eastern cuisine, these wimps in the party can fall back on the turkey and Swiss, tuna salad or chicken salad sandwich ($4.25-$4.99).
And don't rule out Casablanca for breakfast just because you can't face babaganooj first thing in the morning. There's a whole breakfast menu ranging from French crepes to Middle Eastern and Algerian platters ($2.99-$7.49). Yes, there's even a Mexican omelette with green chile—but, c'mon, live a little dangerously!
Isn't that what Rick would have wanted?
David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.