Victoria’s–Canutillo, TX

Victoria’s Mexican Grill
6874 Doniphan Dr.
Canutillo, TX
(915) 243-7183
Victoria's

Victoria’s


Although Canutillo sits very close to the New Mexico state line and it is home to at least a couple of well known New Mexico style restaurants, Victoria’s is firmly in the camp of El Paso style Mexican food. There is a reason for this–this is the same Victoria’s that used to be located on Dyer Street in northeast El Paso (although I remember seeing the sign on the old restaurant which said “Victorea’s”). The employees confirmed, though, that this is the same restaurant (and signs inside say it was founded in 1985 although this location has only been in operation for a short time).

On my first visit to Victoria’s in Canutillo I made a note that the enchiladas here are New Mexico style. This is not unusual for El Paso restaurants–there is a fine line of distinction between many of the enchiladas here and the ones in New Mexico. I think Victoria’s uses the Mexican cheese typically found in El Paso restaurants, but the sauce has a definite New Mexico taste which probably means they use New Mexico chile.

The official name of this restaurant is Victoria’s Mexican Grill Steakhouse. This gives an idea of what they consider to be their best dishes, but I have not tried any of the steak dishes here. The Mexican plate is one of the largest in El Paso in terms of quantity, and I think I might have a difficult time eating one of this restaurant’s steaks. The Mexican plate does give a taste of Victoria’s meat, though, in its shredded beef taco. The staff gave me a list of what they consider to be their signature dishes, and they are: Combination Plate, Tacos Deshebrada, Flautas, Chile Verde, and Chile Colorado. I notice that no steaks are included on the list, although the shredded beef (deshebrada) tacos are on the Mexican Plate.

The restaurant is somewhat like Dr. Who’s police box “TARDIS” that looks bigger on the inside than it does on the outside. Adding to this illusion is the fact that there seems to be very limited parking outside yet everyone appears to find a space (and the restaurant gets very crowded at times). My photo shows what I think are all the parking spaces in front and there are a few on the side of the building, but it seems that there must be extra parking somewhere that I do not know about (or else it might be in another dimension as would be possible on the Dr. Who program).

Appetizers

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

There are two types of Salsa here, which gives people a choice in case one is too spicy (but both were within the norms of what is traditional in El Paso). The Chips were excellent as well.

Complimentary soup

Complimentary soup

Victoria’s is among the small group of restaurants that gives a complimentary bowl of soup to customers, and it is an even more exclusive restaurant because of the fact that this soup is actually very good. The soup is not spicy and is a lot like American style vegetable soup, except that this has a lot more flavor.

Mexican Plate

Mexican plate with chile relleno

Mexican plate with chile relleno

There are several combination plates here, and I think the one with the best choice of items is the Mexican Plate. This one is my favorite because of the chile relleno, but the shredded beef taco and enchilada are also very good choices (I think especially the taco).

The Chile Relleno here is not terribly spicy, and is probably what would be considered mainstream in El Paso when it comes to spiciness. It is covered with sauce and cheese, consequently it is hard to pick out on the photo except that the stem can be seen sticking out on the bottom. The cheese definitely tasted Mexican style, and perhaps most importantly the relleno is not too greasy. Having the sauce and cheese on top makes this more El Paso style rather than classic New Mexican, but I consider it to be very good regardless of the style.

The Red Enchilada is very similar to the ones in New Mexico, and I think it must be made with New Mexico chiles. I do not know the recipe they use here, but it had a dark red color and did not have an over-complicated flavor (the main element of it is the chile itself).

The Shredded Beef Taco comes standard on the Mexican Plate (you do not have to ask for an upgrade from ground beef). This is one of the characteristics I find in classic El Paso restaurants as opposed to some of the cheaper knock-offs or the ones that are Ciudad Juarez style (although shredded beef is served in the more upscale restaurants there as well). The taco at Victoria’s is not greasy and compares favorably with other restaurants.

Rice and beans are made with the same high standards as the main items, but I thought the beans were especially good.

Mexican plate with tamal

Mexican plate with tamal

This is a photo of the Tamal Mexican Plate from which I sampled the tamal. I am not sure about the other items because they are all covered with sauce, cheese, or condiments (but it does not include a chile relleno). The tamal had a thick masa and very good pork inside.

Other Notes
The one thing I thought I should warn people about is that they add an extra fee to your bill if you use a credit card. On one visit they told me about it so it was no problem. The next time I had forgotten about it and I did not find out about the extra fee until they had already run the credit card (and then it was too late to tell them I could pay cash instead).

The flavor here is what I call classic El Paso style Mexican food, and I really thought it was quite good. Prices are not too bad either. The biggest down side to me is that I like the variety in a combination plate, but to get one with a chile relleno (which I think is probably the best item) there is so much food overall that it is hard for me to finish. In other words, the food is great but I think other restaurants package it better.

The Little Diner is probably the most famous restaurant in Canutillo, and I think is probably about equal to Victoria’s in quality (but I also really like Peppe’s which is another popular restaurant). The style of food, though, is quite different at these restaurants. Little Diner and Peppe’s are New Mexico style, but even these have little in common except for the fact that the chile comes from New Mexico and they prepare it in the same style as some of the New Mexico restaurants. I have reviews for these restaurants which can be accessed from the Index on this site. Victoria’s serves classic El Paso style Mexican food, though, and has been one of the city’s most well known restaurants since its days on Dyer Street.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 21, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Chile Relleno, Shredded Beef Taco, Red Enchiladas, Guacamole, Salsa

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: N/A

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchilada
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Shredded Beef Taco
star 5 Tamal
star 5 Guacamole
star 5 Beans
star 5 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Peter’s–El Paso, TX

Peter’s German Grill & Bakery
255 Shadow Mountain Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 626-6368
Peter's German Grill

Peter’s German Grill


The owner of Peter’s (whose name you can guess) was formerly a baker at Lo Mart Supermarket, a grocery store that had a large selection of German baked goods and other items imported from Europe (and is a store I have missed since it closed). Fortunately, though, Peter’s German Grill and Bakery goes a long way in filling the void, except for the fact that Lo Mart used to be on both the west and east side while there is only one Peter (who is located on the west side on Shadow Mountain Dr.).

Peter operates a German restaurant that mainly serves bratwurst and schnitzel, although I know that some other items are available as well (the web site lists two other types of Wurst). Side dishes are available, and there are daily specials Monday through Saturday. Most of what I have tried so far has been because it was the daily special.

The bakery is similar to Marina’s Bakery on the east side, except here there is a greater selection of breads while Marina’s mostly serves pastries. Each of these bakeries gives you a good selection of both, though.

Peter kept telling me that Friday night is the beer special night (I think it is half price) but I have yet to check it out. So far, though, I have found more than enough to keep me interested in coming back.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst is one of the specialties of the restaurant, and it is obvious that Peter takes care in finding a good source and in cooking it the right way. The one here is grilled, resulting in an excellent flavor of an already good sausage. Sauerkraut is served on top (onions are also available), and all around it is excellent.

After several visits I have come to the conclusion that the Sauerkraut is one of the things I appreciate most about the food here, and that this is one of the best versions I have found anywhere. The two things that are important for a good sauerkraut are freshness and flavor, and Peter has both of them nailed.

A very good Potato Salad is served as part of the daily special deal on Wednesday, or you can order it separately any time (including Monday when the bratwurst sandwich is half price). The potato salad is served cold. I have been told that it is prepared in house daily, and this is evident by its freshness.

To me the weak point of the bratwurst is the mustard. Peter has several types of mustard which you can try out to your heart’s content, but I have not found one that is as good as the one choice they offer at Marina’s Bakery. It is somewhat of a toss-up whether the bratwurst is better at Peter’s or Marina’s because of the fact that Peter’s sauerkraut is so good, but since the two restaurants are on opposite ends of town the main question for customers is geographic.

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel is one of the variations of schnitzel served here, and the mushroom gravy covering the meat lived up to my expectations (as did the meat).

Marina’s does not serve jagerschnitzel, but it is a popular item at The German Pub. Personally I think the one at Peter’s is better because of the flavor of the sauce, but both Peter’s and The German Pub have an excellent jagerschnitzel.

Pretzels

Pretzel

German style pretzel

One feature at Peter’s is that they have German style Pretzels made with rye, covered with rock salt, and served with butter. Like all of the bread it is fresh and baked in house.

Bread

Cranberry and walnut bread

Cranberry and walnut bread

After trying the Cranberry and Walnut Bread I have made it a point to buy more every time I go back. This is one of my favorite things to eat at home for snacks or as part of breakfast–the sweetness is just right but it is not to the point that you will get a sugar high from it.

For those who like bread with fruit and nuts, I would honestly say I have tried quite a few of them and this one, along with the cranberry and walnut at Whole Foods (and a similar bread at Bella Cora) are the best. My favorite of all of them, though, is Peter’s.

Pastries

Black forest

Black forest

The Black Forest has a very nice cherry filling with a liqueur flavor along with a very fresh cake and European style (not too sweet) cream topping. This is definitely one of the best I have tried (I would say probably the best).

I should mention that Peter has quite a few other desserts, but I am so stuck on the Black Forest that this is the one I like to buy.

Drinks
There is a large variety of specialty drinks in the cooler (I think many are from Europe) that include some I have tried and would recommend.

Peter does not have a drink fountain (Coke, etc.) and does not serve iced tea. Beer is available, though.

Other Comments
This is a German deli with a very impressive selection of schnitzel and wurst, but overall the menu is not as extensive as would be found in most German restaurants. The quality of the food at Peter’s is very good, and of course there are other perks such as the pastries.

The daily special on Wednesday is especially good if you go with a friend. You get two bratwurst sandwiches with a side dish (such as potato salad), two drinks, and two desserts for the current price of $20 (I figure when you add up the prices of everything if it were purchased individually, the desserts are almost free). All of the daily specials seem to be good deals, though, and all of them are for one person except on Wednesday.

In addition to being a restaurant and a bakery, this is also quite a good store for German and European foods (and I think Peter expanded it in 2019). I do not think the selection is like it was at the old Lo Mart, but it is getting very close.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 20, 2019
Number of Visits: 4
Best Items: Jagerschnitzel, Bratwurst, Cranberry and Walnut Bread, German Pretzel, Black Forest

Special Ratings
star 5 Bratwurst
star 5 Jagerschnitzel
star 5 Potato Salad
star 5 Pretzel
star 5 Cranberry & Walnut Bread
star 5 Black Forest

Su Casa–El Paso, TX

Su Casa Restaurant
2030 E. Yandell Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 544-5136
Su Casa

Su Casa Restaurant


Any list of classic El Paso restaurants would have to include Su Casa, a neighborhood hangout that has been operating at the same place for longer than I can remember. A friend reminded me that Arnold’s, another classic El Paso eatery, was at this location before Su Casa opened. While Arnold’s may have already established the popularity of the location, Su Casa has kept people coming back even if their residences or jobs have since moved out of the neighborhood. Having a central meeting place is part of the reason, but people have a hard time finding the same food anywhere else.

Su Casa seems to have escaped the notice of most tourists, but the restaurant is already so crowded for lunch I doubt that one of the priorities of the owners is to advertise in the local travel guides to attract new customers. Instead, word of mouth seems to bring most people who are not already regular customers. I have a hard time choosing any one Mexican restaurant that I would advise out of town travelers to visit if they have only one meal in El Paso, but Su Casa is certainly one that would be on the short list. The food here typifies the classic El Paso style of Mexican food, and is of consistently good quality no matter what you order from the menu. The combination plates are good at Su Casa, as are many of the single item plates.

Mexican Dishes

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas

For me one of the best tests of El Paso style Mexican food is the Red Enchilada, and the one at Su Casa is certainly one of the best (this is the opinion of myself as well as several of my friends). The one here has a good spiciness, and the cheese provides quite a good flavor. It can sometimes be skimpy on the sauce, but if you need more sauce you can ask for it. These are an El Paso variation of the New Mexico style enchiladas, which are generally slightly more spicy than their borderland cousins. The deep red color with the accompanying flavor, though, is something they have in common.

Combination No. 2

Combination No. 2 with beans, enchilada, chile relleno, and taco

There are several combination plates on the menu that will provide a sample of different items. I would recommend that any one ordered include a red enchilada (most of them have an enchilada, and you can choose either red or green). Combination No. 2, which includes a beef taco, rice, chile relleno, enchilada, and beans is the one that I would say gives the best variety of the restaurant’s best items. This might be nick-named the “classic” plate because it includes all the items I traditionally find at El Paso restaurants that serve a “Mexican Plate.”

The only difference between this enchilada and the one on the enchilada plate is that it might not have as much sauce, but you can ask for more if you want it.

The Beef Tacos are among the most enjoyable anywhere, made with ground beef and topped with Mexican cheese. They are not spicy, though, which is why I like to get them in combination with other items. What is really noticeable here is the way they are cooked so that they are neither too crispy nor too greasy.

The Chile Relleno is served with a fairly mild sauce and a very doughy crust that distinguishes it from the New Mexico version. The chile itself and the cheese inside, though, are very similar to ones I have had in Las Cruces and other places throughout the Land of Enchantment. I was especially impressed by the way the cheese melts to just the right consistency for maximum enjoyment of this dish.

Tri-color enchiladas

Tri-color enchiladas

Tri-Color Enchiladas are technically an enchilada plate rather than a combination plate, but it is one of my favorite dishes here that includes a combination of different items. Known as the “Mexican Flag” in some restaurants, the red, green, and white represent the colors of the flag. I think the green chile at Su Casa is one of the best in El Paso, although the red is really my go-to choice. The “white” enchilada is actually a red one with sour cream on top, so you are in effect getting two red enchiladas and one green one. They tend to spread the sour cream over all three enchiladas on the plate, but to me this is a good thing and you still end up with the three distinct flavors.

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup

The Tortilla Soup is well spiced with excellent cheese. If this were going to be the main part of the meal, though, I would prefer the caldo tlalpeño at Café Mayapán that also contains avocado and a whole chipotle chile. Su Casa serves the soup in either a whole order, which would constitute a pretty substantial meal, or a half order (I really prefer the half order and having it as an appetizer).

The Refried Beans, topped with a generous amount of cheese, are delicious when eaten on chips. Traditional wisdom seems to be that beans made with lard have a better flavor, but the ones at Su Casa made with vegetable oil seem to disprove this theory.

Middle Eastern Food

Spinach pies

Spinach pies

I think Su Casa should be known as much for its Middle Eastern food as for the Mexican menu. The Spinach Pies, made from scratch in the owner’s home, have the best flavor I have tasted anywhere, but suffer from the fact that they are kept frozen and then microwaved when you order them. The ones here are probably not like you would find in Lebanon, but they are better than the ones I have tried in the city’s Middle Eastern restaurants. Even though the crust shows some signs of being microwaved, the inside filling is fresh and moist, with a rich Middle Eastern flavor. For me, this is one of the best lunch plates served at Su Casa.

Tabouli

Tabouli

The Tabouli is made fresh, and has a well deserved reputation as one of Su Casa’s most popular dishes. The light sauce brings out the true flavor of the vegetables that I find typical of good quality Middle Eastern food. My respect for the tabouli at Su Casa has increased over the years as I have tried other versions in El Paso and other cities that seemed too have to much or too little of certain ingredients, while the one at Su Casa has just the right balance of its various components. Lebanese food is a real passion of the owners, and it definitely shows in the tabouli and other dishes that are served.

Several other Lebanese dishes are offered including kebby, Middle Eastern style chicken, and shish-kabob.

Before and After the Main Meal

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The Salsa is not the spiciest in El Paso, but may have the freshest ingredients. The owners’ Middle Eastern heritage comes through a little bit in the mixture of ingredients that come together to provide one of the most complex flavors of any salsa in the city.

Sopaipilla

Sopaipilla

Complimentary Sopaipillas are served after every meal, and are some of the tastiest around. This one, like many served in El Paso, are thinner than the New Mexico version.

Things to Know
One feature I really like is that just about every plate is available in a half order, and many times the half order is large enough for a meal (although a half order of the soups or salads would not fill me up). Several of the combination plates come in half orders with fewer main dishes, but you still get the beans, rice, and sopaipillas.

There are daily specials throughout the work week where a regular plate is served at a discounted price, but only one plate is offered as a special each day (the specials are the same every week).

Even though my rating has varied somewhat over time, one thing that has never changed is that the red enchiladas, tacos, and salsa are in the top tier of El Paso style Mexican restaurants. If customers get these (as well as some other items with which I may be less familiar) I think they will have some of the best food El Paso has to offer.

Almost everyone who is a regular will say that one of the attractions is the excellent service. Su Casa is a neighborhood, family style restaurant, and once you go you will likely be remembered from then on. There is a higher likelihood of running into my friends here than at any other restaurant in the city. Everything seems to come together to make it feel like “your home” (su casa).


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Mexican & Lebanese
Cost: $
Hours: Lunch only Mon.-Sat. (open until 7 pm on Fri.); closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, wine, Sangria

Most Recent Visit: May 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Tri-Color Enchiladas, Spinach Pie, Tacos, Tabouli, Sopaipillas, Salsa

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Tri-Color Enchiladas
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Spinach Pies
star 5 Tabouli
star 5 Tacos
star 4 Tortilla Soup
star 5 Refried Beans
star 5 Rice
star 4 Chips
star 5 Salsa