Best of Both Worlds
The initials in "M & A Bayard Café" stand for "Mexican and
American" — and both are delicious.
by Peggy Platonos
The M & A Bayard Café sits alongside the railroad tracks in the village of Bayard. It's a down-to-earth, friendly, unpretentious place — kind of a cross between a Mexican cantina and a 1950s home-style diner, serving tasty, no-frills Mexican and American food at reasonable prices. (The "M & A" in the café's name stands for Mexican and American.)
The café is open weekdays for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the menu includes a wide range of both Mexican and American options for each meal, as well as dishes that merge the two food traditions. Green chiles, in particular, find their way into several types of omelettes and onto several kinds of burgers.
There are a number of surprises on the menu. The three types of fish offered on the dinner menu, for instance — filleted trout, catfish and cod — are all grilled, not fried. (Each for just $8.95.) On Friday, however, the M & A also offers a very popular fish fry for $5.95 — $6.95 with shrimp added.
The café's green chili — served in a bowl for $5.65 and in a cup for $3.50 — is made with beef, rather than the more traditional pork, and some of that flavorful beef is included in the breakfast burritos, along with eggs, hash brown potatoes and bacon. Purists will be happy to hear that the green chile sauce at M & A is made the old-fashioned way and does not include cream of mushroom or celery soup as a base.
One word of caution: If you order the Roast Beef Dinner with visions of a pink slab of beef dancing in your head, forget it. Picture instead a generous portion of beef that is what I would call pot roast — melt-in-your-mouth tender, covered in a classic brown gravy and wonderfully tasty — and you will not be disappointed. That dinner costs just $7.95 and includes (as all the American-style dinners do) a vegetable, a roll, a choice of potato, and either salad or soup.
Alex and Rebecca Brown established the café in 1987, and have owned and operated it ever since. It's a popular eating place now, but it took a while for people to find it.
"We started with $16 days when we first opened. Not too many people. But every year for 24 years we've been going up," Alex says. "We don't advertise unless we have something special going on. The people advertise for us."
"It was mostly family helping in the beginning," Rebecca says. Now, their daughter Charol shares the management responsibility with them, and they have paid kitchen and serving staff. But Alex and Rebecca remain hands-on in the business, taking care of ordering, supervising and doing the actual cooking when necessary.
"Well, Rebecca does the cooking," Alex amends. "If she feels nice, she'll let me cook sometimes."
"It's hard when you don't have the help, but we enjoy it," Rebecca says.
"Though age is creeping up on us," Alex comments.
Alex is 70, and Rebecca is 62. The restaurant opens at 5:30 a.m. The two of them arrive at 4:30 a.m. "And people are already waiting," Rebecca says.
The café offers pack lunches, and many of the local miners come early to pick up their lunches, which consist of burritos or sandwiches — "or whatever they want," Alex says.
"We do catering, too," he adds. "We did one event for 600 people for the power plant outside Deming a few years ago."
The M & A Bayard Café is open from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is located at 1101 N. Central in Bayard, and is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call the café at (575) 537-2251.
Send Mimbres freelance writer Peggy Platonos tips for restaurant reviews
at email@example.com or call (575) 536-2997.