Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

 Irma Lisa Rodriguez-Diaz and Jesús Diaz take a break from setting up their Casa Diaz Mexican-American Grill in downtown Bernalillo.
Photo credit:—Bill Diven

New and old faces altering Bernalillo’s restaurant scene

—Bill Diven

From white wine pasta and menudo to doughnuts and ice cream, dining choices in Bernalillo are expanding.

By late June, the Casa Diaz Mexican-American Grill was within days of its planned opening, pending final work and inspections. The restaurant occupies the former home of the long-popular La Casita Café, damaged by fire in 2005 and rebuilt by its owners before closing in 2013.

“People have been dropping by asking, ‘Are you open yet? Are you open yet?’” said Irma Lisa Rodriguez-Diaz who, along with her husband Jesús Diaz, are the new owners and chefs.” We’re really excited… We’ll be bringing back this home-style kitchen to the community.”

While La Casita was a traditional Mexican restaurant, the Casa Diaz menu will include old favorites plus items like the white wine pasta, meats cooked on a grill rather than range top and creative use of spices. “We’re looking for unique flavors,” Jesús said. “It’s going to be good.”

On the day the Signpost visited, the couple was working to condense a 14-page menu draft to four pages of entrees, side dishes, homemade pastries, and desserts. They’ve also added a coffee bar and are applying for a beer-and-wine license.

Irma Lisa got her start in the business at age 13 bussing tables in her family’s Gallup restaurant. She has managed several Chili’s restaurants, most recently in Española. She and Jesús, who also has about thirty years of restaurant experience, moved to Bernalillo about four years ago at his urging because of the small-town atmosphere.

The restaurant at 567 S. Camino del Pueblo will be open seven days a week, starting at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner although closing at 8:00 p.m. during the week, 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Casa Diaz, however, is just one headline in Bernalillo’s restaurant news. Just around the corner on Calle Montoya is the new home of Ruby’s Tortillaria.

Formerly located on Camino del Pueblo near Bernalillo Town Hall, Ruby’s is known for its fresh tortillas but also has a menu of burritos, barbacoa, menudo, Mexican sodas and snacks. The Weekly Alibi described Ruby’s as “in the heart of New Mexico but completely south of the border in spirit.” Ruby’s is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar also is nearing construction after letting its first condition-use zoning permit expire after a year and recently applying again. The company previously announced plans to build on a 1.2-acre site on the southeast corner of Camino del Pueblo and U.S. Highway 550.

The Bernalillo Planning and Zoning Commission at its June 7 meeting also approved conditional-use for a company planning to build a Dunkin’ Donuts doughnut shop and Baskin Robbins ice cream shop in a single structure. The site on U.S. 550 is just east of the Applebee’s property.

Hollyhocks in Bernalillo
Photo credit: —Sara Chadwick

Bernalillo blooms
—a business community project in Bernalillo

—Sara Chadwick

Hollyhocks are easy to grow in New Mexico. They need little water, even less attention, and their blooms last forever. Our mission is to distribute hollyhock seeds throughout the community, educate people on how to plant them, and create a beautiful residential and business environment.

For our first meeting, we need to sort and catalog the seeds that we have. We also have to decide who our first recipients will be and plan our marketing strategy (t-shirts, seed packets, seed bombs, etc.).

Planting time should be both July and August, so that the plants grow enough to winter over. That way, by May of 2017, we should start to see blooms all over the city. We encourage you to become a “Hollyhock Girl” or a “Hollyhock Guy” so that this project will become a huge success.

If anyone has extra seeds to give us, we’d love to have them. Call at 205-8026 for further information.


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