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     A Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Experience in the Southwest
2011 - Volume 2 Issue 2
Comidas Sabrosas
World Cuisine
Article: Jasmine Evaristo
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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International Delights Café is the brainchild of owner, Fatah Hafassa. Originally from Algeria, Fatah has been in the café and coffee industries for over 20 years beginning at the age of 18. He lived all across Europe learning the ins and outs of the business before touching down in the United States. When Fatah moved to Las Cruces with his wife in the mid-90s, he saw an opportunity to create an atmosphere. "He's really proud of the patio area – you can sit out there and relax; you can sit with your laptops or a book, and enjoy your coffee," relays Manager, Geoff Pershing.

    Often times, an experience in good food can be elevated with the complement of good company. It's good food that can bring people together. Some of our best conversations are had over the freshest brews of coffee. Off the beaten path, tucked within a modest shopping center in Las Cruces, New Mexico lies a place of inviting faces and carefree idleness; a delightful fusion of Mediterranean foods and European-style coffeehouses.

Delights Café

1245 El Paseo Rd.
Las Cruces, NM 88001
International Delights opened its doors in 1998, initially established as a coffeehouse. Over time, increased popularity and demand (and their lunch rush) yielded a restaurant and market.

Greeted by a charming patio entrance, the restaurant offers plenty of seating options outdoors and indoors. The surrounding greenery and worldly décor add to the inviting ambiance.

Fatah has created a menu that reflects his world travels, serving dishes influenced by the coalescence of Mediterranean, Moroccan, Latin, European and Middle Eastern cuisines. Their most popular dishes include the Grilled Chicken Salad, the Turkey & Swiss Sandwich, the Mezza plate (a Middle Eastern appetizer) and the Gyro plate and sandwich. Their Monday special is the Curry plate – chicken curry served with Arabic rice and a side salad; and on Fridays – the Lamb Couscous – an aromatic dish serving up a lamb shank and vegetables on a bed of steamed couscous that's impossible to resist.

The coffee bar is a true expression of Fatah's coffee prowess. They serve seven different house coffees, including the sought-after Pinõn brew, Arabic and Turkish coffees, cappuccinos and espressos, freshly brewed teas, and an assortment of other coffee favorites. And their pastry case is a medley of luscious desserts that make for a perfect complement to the java.

Just a few doors down is International Delights' market, offering an exploration of culture down every isle. The shelves are stocked with an array of Middle Eastern name brands, spices, sweets, teas and coffees, and a plethora of other global ingredients and condiments. The Arabic Pita bread is the most popular item, never exceeding more than three days in stock.

A clientele of regulars and a staff full of students populates International Delights Café. "We recognize our community. This is very much a university town, and you take NMSU out of Las Cruces, and you're not left with much," says Geoff. During the semesters, it's not unusual to find a sea full of glowing laptops and rush orders on coffee. A student himself, Fatah is working on his masters' thesis in government at New Mexico State University, and he caters to the academic priorities of his student staff, picking up extra shifts so that the staff can study. "He wants people to go to school, get their education, and to succeed," relays Geoff.

It's the unwavering support of Fatah and the International Delights crew for the community (along with the quality food and coffee!) that has given them continued success for almost 13 years, and that doesn't go unrecognized, "I think that rubs off on the customers," Geoff says. ///
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