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cantina lrg

The property that now houses La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant and Cantina, dates back to the 1850s when it was a freight and passenger service station. It was located on the Pinos Altos stagecoach line (which served the Silver City area), and was owned and operated by the Bean Brothers. The Bean Brothers were a colorful duo who owned saloons and other enterprises throughout southern New Mexico. Eventually, Roy would be found in Val Verde County, Texas where he was appointed Justice of the Peace and earned the reputation, “The Law West of the Pecos.”

Just as the compound was important to the Pinos Altos stagecoach line, it became a critical stop for the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach in the 1850s. In the 1870s it was called the Corn Exchange Hotel, and would become one of the finest hotels in the southwest. 

The hotel hosted such guests as President Ulysses S. Grant (who, according to the original guest book, never paid for his room), frontiersman and Indian fighter, Kit Carson, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, and (though it can’t be confirmed) Billy the Kid as well. In addition to the hotel, the compound consisted of a fine dining restaurant, the cantina—at that time called the Bean Saloon (so named for the original owners)—a blacksmith shop, a mercantile store, a stable, and even the local school house. 

laposta painting

In 1939, local entrepreneur and niece of the owner, Katy Griggs Camunez, purchased the saloon and restaurant portion from her Uncle Edgar for “one dollar and love and affection.” She set up a small dining room on a dirt floor and began cooking and selling local Mexican food. The small enterprise grew into the large restaurant and cantina we know and love today.

Opened in the 1990s and operating for over two decades, the Corn Exchange Cantina served many dignitaries including Governors of New Mexico and other states, U.S. Senators and Representatives, Hollywood Stars and others. It is also where some of La Posta de Mesilla’s signature cocktails were created…. like the Chile ‘Rita and the Bloody Maria.

During a remodeling in 2011-2012 a new, larger cantina, the Adobe Caninta y Tequileria was created on the southern side of the compound. The new Cantina is open daily.  The Corn Exchange Cantina is open on Holidays and special occasions. However, the next time you stop in, you owe it to yourself to step behind the receptionist and into the Corn Exchange Cantina just to take a look. You’ll see the beautiful stained-glass artwork representing the stagecoach coming down from the Organ Mountains and into Mesilla. You’ll notice the painting on the wall depicting La Posta as a 19th century Stagecoach Stop.

adobe cantina stained glass

And right behind the bar, where the stained-glass is displayed, was the original entrance to the Corn Exchange and Butterfield Stagecoach Stop. So you actually will be standing at the Hotel entrance, where guests were greeted by the front desk clerk nearly 150 years ago. Imagine all the colorful personalities of the wild wild west that had stood right where you’re standing. Chances are they could be found in the Bean Saloon, drinking some slightly tepid and warm beer, or maybe a glass of “Mescal Wine” (today called tequila), or perhaps actual wine from the vineyards in Mesilla or up in Socorro, New Mexico (back then, one of the largest wine-making regions in the southwest).

It’s easy to imagine being transported to the past in our Corn Exchange Cantina. Hopefully you get a chance to come by soon and experience the legacy of the old west!