By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 10/25/19
Just like ingredients in a recipe, a lot of things had to come together in perfect order for the new owners of Osito’s Biscochitos to continue the Las Cruces tradition of the incredibly popular, delicious, (and addictive!) holiday cookies enjoyed year ‘round.
When Barbara Mesa heard the previous owners were retiring, she knew she had to step in to keep the cookie tradition going strong. Mesa had in mind the perfect chef and business partner: Jimmy Punzo, a young friend of her family who attended culinary school in New York City but wanted to return to provide signature baked goods to customers in Las Cruces.
While Mesa and Punzo took over the Osito’s commercial kitchen located at 580 S. Valley Drive, Suite #200, their business model calls for fresh Osito’s Biscochitos to be available all across the region - from Farmer’s Market to wine festivals and holiday events including the upcoming El Paso Christmas Fair on November 1st through the 3rd , HomeGrown at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum on November 23rd and 24th, and the La Casa Holiday Bazaar at the Las Cruces Convention Center December 6th through 8th.
“Osito’s Biscochitos are also available at Toucan Market, FARMesilla, Pic Quiks - like the one in Hatch - and very nearly every Saturday we’re at the Farmer’s Market,” says Mesa. “For large orders, like Christmas gifts or business gifts, we are happy to deliver directly to our customers so they can skip coming down to pick up on Valley Drive.”
Their best-sellers are their traditional sugar-cinnamon biscochitos, the New Mexico state cookie, a “melt-in-your-mouth delight” that reminds many customers of the traditions from home. Made from sugar, anise, cinnamon, flour and a couple of secret ingredients, they are shaped into small diamonds. Mesa explains holiday orders can be made at https://biscochitos.net/ or by calling 575-644-4138.
Famous for their biscochitos and wedding cakes, Osito’s also sells raspberry habanero and chocolate versions of the biscochitos.
“You can tell who isn’t from around here when they try the habanero,” laughed Mesa. “Locals are surprised at the sweetness, and the kick at the end.”
While the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) final road reconstruction phase is right outside Osito’s Biscochitos on Valley Drive, NMDOT is making sure access is enabled for all businesses in the area. Even with the busy baking season for the holidays right around the corner, Mesa says the road reconstruction is only an inconvenience for Osito’s. By October 31st, NMDOT project managers anticipate the switch to the westbound lanes. Questions about the project? Please contact NMDOT project manager Ryan Tafoya at 575-418-7891.
NMDOT is now into the final phase of the Valley Drive road reconstruction, scheduled for completion in early 2020. The City of Las Cruces encourages residents to continue supporting local businesses on Valley Drive. More information about monthly Valley Drive update meetings at www.valleydrive.net.
PHOTO 1: Owners Barbara Mesa and chef Jimmy Punzo work in the Osito’s Biscochitos commercial kitchen; you can also find their famous cookies year ‘round in the Osito’s food truck at the Saturday Farmer’s Market or at locations like Toucan Market or FARMesilla.