Highway 28 is an old fashioned, two-lane road that runs from North El Paso to Old Mesilla, New Mexico. Lined with pretty pecan orchards that stretch for miles, Highway 28 offers you the unique opportunity to journey back to a simpler time. As you traverse the winding path, chile farms, wine vineyards, and horse and cattle ranches set on idyllic pastures open up before you. It’s a steady, relaxing ride over a beautiful bucolic landscape. So take your time and take in the scenery. But be cautious; you’re likely to pass a tractor or two along the way.
While the ride itself is a breathtaking spectacle, Highway 28 has a diverse collection of alluring attractions to offer. The road is lined with celebrated wineries, authentic Mexican restaurants and important historical sites that you don’t want to miss out on. Here’s a few stops that you just have to make when riding down Highway 28.
Nestled just off the side of the road, you’ll find Zin Valle Vineyards, a family-owned winery and vineyard serving up award-winning bottles produced both locally and abroad. Grapes for a variety of popular wine favorites like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grow in manicured rows right out front alongside sturdy willows, which provide perfect shade for the picnic tables. Upon entering the tasting room, you’ll be greeted by the friendly host, one of the family’s sweet dogs. And the equally welcoming staff will suggest three wines for your sampling pleasure. At Zin Valle, you can purchase exquisite wines by the glass, bottle or case, and you can view the on-site barrel room as well. Live musical acts perform weekly at the vineyard, and with a packed picnic in tow and a tasteful glass in hand, Zin Valle is the perfect place to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Chope’s Bar and Café
Chope’s Bar and Café is another must on your journey down Highway 28. Located in La Mesa, New Mexico, this beloved eatery has been serving up 100% authentic Mexican cuisine for the past century. Founded in 1915 by Longina Benavivez and named after her son, Chope’s stands today as a testament to family, tradition, community and of course, good eating. The bar and the café are located in separate buildings adjacent to one another, each offering a distinct, but equally satiating experience. Popular among bikers and beer lovers, the Chope’s bar is a favored hangout spot. The edgy, yet intimate interior encourages close communion while the friendly bartenders and hardy cocktails bring about the signature satisfaction that keeps locals and travelers alike coming back. The restaurant is just left of the bar. The layered aroma of fresh salsas, fried tortillas and simmering meats pervades throughout the cozy dining space. Seating is limited, so there’s usually a small wait, but it’s well worth it. Mexican food aficionados will find traditional menu items that recall home. And for those newer to the cuisine, the menu includes a list of favorites that won’t disappoint. Chope’s is famous for their family-recipe rellenos, tamales, enchiladas and burritos, but every plate they have to offer is delicious. Follow up your spicy Mexican meal with a sweet treat. The sopaipillas – soft, fried pastries – are drizzled with honey and make for the perfect finish to a delicious lunch or dinner at Chope’s.
La Viña Winery
La Viña is another great family-owned winery that you should visit during your travels on Highway 28. Established in 1977, La Viña is New Mexico’s oldest winery. Today, they make and vend a diverse array of signature wines that are sure to please all palates. Check out they’re current wine lineup here. Friendly sommeliers offer daily tours of the grounds and facilities at 11:30 am. The winery has 2 beautiful acres speckled with patio seating and picnic tables awaiting you on a warm, peaceful day. The winery hosts a number of fun events throughout the year. Their Music on the Patio Concert Series is happening currently. Bring a few tasty snacks to accompany your wine and enjoy live music from the folk, country and rock and roll genres. The concerts take place most Sunday afternoons. Additionally, La Viña also hosts a Sunday Market throughout the warmer seasons offering wine tastings, fresh farm produce and artisanal crafts. There’s a lot to look forward to at La Viña, so plan to stop by sometime soon.
Your drive down Highway 28 culminates with a trip to Old Mesilla, one of New Mexico’s most momentous settlements. Native American tribes have occupied the Mesilla Valley as a strategic camping site since prehistoric times, and their influence can still be seen in the well-preserved pueblos and adobe buildings that stand today. Around the sixteenth century Spanish conquistadors pursued the area for its trails to El Paso and Santa Fe, which were economic incentives for establishing trade. Eventually Mesilla became a Spanish colony, but was ceded to the US after the Mexican War. Today Old Mesilla continues to be a rich epicenter of history and culture, and there’s so much to do and explore in the quaint town. Make sure to visit the Billy the Kid Gift Shop, which you’ll find tucked on the corner of the plaza. The shop as well as Wild West Express-O, a popular coffee house and ice cream parlor, is located in the very building where Billy the Kid was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Old Mesilla is bursting with activity all year long. Come out on a Thursday or Sunday for arts, crafts and produce in the plaza. And stay tuned for fun annual fiestas and festivals like Cinco de Mayo, the Mesilla Jazz Happening, Mariachi Sundays and so much more. Between the vineyards, the dining and the historic locales, you’re in for a great time everywhere you go on historic Highway 28!