Barrigas–El Paso, TX

Barrigas Restaurant
(Closed)
664 Sunland Park Dr.
El Paso, TX
Barrigas on Sunland Park

Barrigas on Sunland Park


Note Jun. 2019: All of the Barrigas locations in El Paso have now closed but it is reportedly still open in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

This upscale Ciudad Juarez restaurant has recently branched out into El Paso, and provides some of the most authentic Mexican food around. Probably the best feature of Barrigas is the varied menu, with many items not traditionally found in the U.S. Mexican restaurants (although this type of menu variety is increasingly found in El Paso restaurants).

Barrigas seems to specialize in meat items, particularly in finding flavorful ways to combine meat, cheese, and other ingredients. It is also a good place to go if you like a variety of salads, appetizers (such as queso fundido), desserts, and shrimp. Margaritas and other drinks are served.

The background noise and music at Barrigas can sometimes be at such a high level it is hard to hold a conversation. When they have had live mariachi bands, though, the quality of the music has been such I have not minded the temporary inconvenience in trying to converse with others at the table.

Chips and Salsa
The Chips are somewhat greasy and the Salsa has sometimes been too spicy with jalapeno peppers, but the salsa seemed to improve a lot starting about 2006. In fact I would say it is now very close to the classic El Paso and Ciudad Juarez style salsa that is spicy and flavorful, and perhaps a little heavy on extra spices that are thrown in.

The Pico de Gallo that is sometimes served in addition to the salsa is quite good, but it is usually not offered.

Enchiladas
The Red Enchiladas are good, but they are not my favorite in El Paso and I prefer them on a combination plate with other items. While they are a good example of Ciudad Juarez style enchiladas, I prefer the New Mexico style chile that does not have as many spices that modify the flavor as the Mexican style red chile. These enchiladas may be more suitable than the New Mexico style, though, for people who do not like them extremely spicy.

Chicken enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas

Green Enchiladas are made with puréed green chile that is normally very easy to make too spicy and not very flavorful, but the ones at Barrigas are an exception. I find the green chile here to have a flavor that is very similar to the New Mexico style green chile, although milder. These enchiladas also use melted Mexican cheese on top of the chile as well as inside the enchilada, adding to the flavor and making them among the best green enchiladas in El Paso. The green enchiladas seem to taste better with chicken inside and a side order of sour cream to make Enchiladas Suizas, not on the menu as such but is one of the better versions of this dish.

Flautas
Flautas here are well above average using thick, flavorful chunks of chicken and a large quantity of guacamole in which to dip it.

Mole
Chicken Mole is served the traditional Ciudad Juarez style, with chicken mixed into the mole, and Barrigas is one of the best. The mole sauce is not too sweet and I think has a very smooth and delicious taste. Some say mole is an acquired taste, but the one here is a good place to start if you want a more authentic version.

Enmoladas

Enmoladas

Enmoladas, or mole enchiladas, are a way to enjoy the sauce without the chicken (enchiladas are served either with cheese or chicken). With a side order of flour tortillas I really like the mole sauce just as well as on the chicken dinner. To me, though, the enchiladas have a strong corn oil flavor that makes this a less desirable dish than the chicken mole dinner. I am tempted to go on a rant here about the less nutritious and less well balanced food customers frequently receive when they try to order vegetarian dinners, and this is a clear example. One alternative would be to order a mole burrito which is not fried (and would probably have little or no corn oil). In my opinion, though, the best flavor comes with the chicken mole dinner. Mexican food seems to be at its best when you order it with meat.

Chile Relleno
The Chiles Rellenos have been quite greasy at times but other times have been quite good. The yellow tomato sauce served on top of the relleno is flavorful. For the most part I would recommend against ordering it here–other restaurants have much better rellenos.

Puntas de Filete

Puntas de filete

Puntas de filete

Puntas de Filete is a dish of sirloin tips that is served with a choice of several sauces. I enjoyed it not only because of its flavor, but because it is something that is not served in a great number of restaurants. I suspect all the sauces are good, but if you have a hard time deciding I think the waiters will give their suggestions.

Side Dishes
Rice and beans are very good, and overall you should expect a good meal here. Barrigas does not take the time to make Mexican style agua fresca drinks, but I have been pretty happy with the food, and the prices are not bad.

More About the Restaurant
Barrigas is open late (10 p.m.) on weekdays, and later on weekends. The outdoor patio is an excellent idea to take advantage of the El Paso weather, but smoking is allowed making it unusable to me. Because of this, the usually cold air inside, and frequent loud noise, I would have to give low marks for the restaurant’s atmosphere. Still, though, it is one of the better places to get good Mexican food in an upscale setting.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican Chihuahua
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, drinks

Most Recent Visit: Feb. 27, 2008
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Flautas, Chicken Mole, Green Enchiladas

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Green Enchiladas with chicken and sour cream
star 5 Flautas
star 5 Mole
star 4 Enmoladas
star 3 Chile Relleno
star 5 Puntas de Filete
star 4 Beans
star 5 Rice
star 4 Chips
star 5 Salsa
star 3 Lemonade

Young Vin Express–El Paso, TX

Young Vin Express
11335 Montwood Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 525-2100
Young Vin Express

Young Vin Express on Montwood


Young Vin was one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Korean restaurants in the city, but the original restaurant on Dyer Street no longer exists. In its place, though, is the recently opened Young Vin Express in far eastern El Paso. I only know of it through information on the Internet, but I believe this is an important development in El Paso’s restaurant scene. Rather than saying that one of the the city’s most well known restaurants is gone, I can instead say that it has merely adapted and moved to a location that is more convenient for a large segment of the city.

My review of Young Vin on the okgourmet.com web site is available for viewing, and reflects my years of dining experience there. For most of these years I had no thought about reviewing the restaurant or trying to analyze the food–I simply went because I enjoyed it. My first experience with Korean food was at Young Vin, and I kept going back for more, as well as visiting the other Korean restaurants in the city.

As the review indicates, the Korean barbecue has always been the main draw of the restaurant. Over time I came to enjoy the side dishes as much or more, but in any case there was plenty to bring me to the restaurant.

I do not know how Young Vin Express is set up, but I am sure that much of the food remains the same. It sounds as if it is now a fast food restaurant, and would not provide the same experience of having an overabundance meat and side dishes to the point that they did not expect anyone to eat all of it. Still, with food this good, it would be difficult not to have a good experience with it even if the portions are smaller.

Recommendations
At Young Vin I always enjoyed the food, but my main issues were with questions such as what you got for your money. The Express restaurant seems to be informal and low priced, so I think this is a good way for people to try Korean food that may not be very familiar with it. In my opinion the barbecue beef is usually a good place to start in experiencing Korean cuisine, and the one here was never disappointing.


RATING: N/R
Cuisine: Korean
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun
 

Jim’s Diner–Oklahoma City, OK

Jim’s Diner (Closed)
6317 N. Meridian Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Jim's Diner OKC

Jim’s Diner in northwest Oklahoma City


Note: This Jim’s Diner is closed but the original restaurant at 7950 N.W. 39th Expressway is still open.

Although many are familiar with Jim’s Diner on Route 66 in Bethany, there is now a second location in Oklahoma City at N.W. 63rd St. and Meridian Ave. There are a number of reasons people have continued to patronize Jim’s over the years, but I think two of the most important are that just about everything is on the menu and the prices are reasonable.

My visits to the Bethany location have been exclusively for breakfast or for a late night dinner and conversation with friends (both locations are open until 10:00 pm, but the Bethany restaurant used to be open through midnight–the latest time I can remember being there).

When I went to the Oklahoma City location it was not nearly as busy as the Bethany restaurant usually experiences, but I believe people are now discovering the new restaurant and that business has picked up. This restaurant is not on Route 66, but the food seems to be the same.

Salad

Salad

Salad at Jim’s Diner

Salad is not my idea of one of the restaurant’s big draws, but it is available for those who want it. I could find nothing either particularly good or particularly bad about the one I tried (except for the fact that the tomatoes were actually red and the lettuce was actually green).

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken

Fried chicken

I sampled the Fried Chicken, so I know how it tastes but not if this would be classified as a very filling meal or not. At least the pieces seemed to be as big as in most other restaurants.

The flavor of the dark meat was excellent, so I would have to say this was a big hit with me. The white meat was dry, though, and disappointing (but still not bad). For my taste the dark meat would be well worth ordering again.

The best item I tried, though, was the Mashed Potatoes that came on the side. These were excellent potatoes and excellent gravy. I really do not think very much about mashed potatoes until I try them at the numerous restaurants that do not do them quite the right way (in contrast, I think Jim’s shows how it should be done).

Banana Nut Pancakes

Banana nut pancakes

Banana nut pancakes

One good feature of Jim’s is that you can order breakfast all day. One drawback I discovered was that the cook at dinner was not very familiar with the breakfast menu, leading to the fact that I only got one pancake (the one pictured) when I wanted to make a meal of them (which comes with four pancakes). They cooked the other three for me, but there was a good wait because these pancakes are made from scratch and cannot be prepared quickly.

I gave them four stars because of the fact that at home I try to use a more healthy cooking oil, so I get somewhat of a rude awakening when I eat them in most restaurants. Still, though, I liked the bananas, the syrup, the flavor of the pancakes (other than the oil), and even the margarine spread they had. The pecans tasted stale, though (this was not a big factor in the overall meal).

Desserts

Pie display

The pie display at Jim’s

I am mentioning desserts only to show this photo of their pie display, but so far I have not tried any of the flavors.

Additional Comments
For diners, I think Olde Orchard in Bethany seems to have a better flavor for me. I think Jim’s has more menu options, though, particularly if you want to order breakfast at dinner time (something I believe Olde Orchard does not do).

The closing time of 10:00 pm at Jim’s is considered late night dining for Oklahoma City, so this is a good option for many people (I have not confirmed the hours of this location but they are the ones posted on Yelp). The posted hours also say they open at 6:00 am every day (probably not something I would ever desire to check out for myself).

Update Aug. 2017: After visiting Olde Orchard again I wish to amend this section of the review. Olde Orchard does serve breakfast items at dinner (it is only during lunch hours from 11 am to 1 pm that they are not available). In addition I wish to revise the statement about Olde Orchard having a better flavor overall, and I would have to say it depends on what you order (both restaurants are good at certain things).

Opas Restaurant: Jim’s at N.W. 63rd and Meridian is now two restaurants–Jim’s Diner and Opas Mediterranean Restaurant. Opas has a separate entrance on the east side of the building (on Meridian) but you can also enter at Jim’s. Both restaurants use the same dining room, and you can order from either menu or both.


RATING: 18

Cuisine: American
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (6:00 am to 10:00 pm)
Accessible: Yes (but there was only one handicapped space)
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Serves Breakfast

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 29, 2016

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item: Mashed Potatoes

 

Special Ratings
star 4 Fried Chicken
star 5 Mashed Potatoes
star 3 Salad
star 4 Banana Nut Pancakes

Menu (Aug. 2017):


Tienda Guatemala–Oklahoma City, OK

Tienda Guatemala
1001 N. Virginia Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 521-1899
Tienda Guatemala

Tienda Guatemala


Chiltepes is a well known restaurant in the Plaza District on N.W. 16th Street in Oklahoma City, but prior to this it was the original Tienda Guatemala. Chiltepes is now a Mexican restaurant that serves some Central American dishes (such as pupusas), but the original Tienda Guatemala has now moved to a new location on Virginia Avenue near N.W. 10th St.

The original Tienda Guatemala

The original Tienda Guatemala in what is now Chiltepes Restaurant on N.W. 16th St. in the Plaza District

Tienda Guatemala is really the umbrella name for two separate businesses: Curiosidades Guatemala (store/ mailing center/ money transfer center), and Antojitos Guatemaltecos (bakery and restaurant).

Tienda Guatemala has kept its original concept of being a small restaurant serving a limited number of items which are cooked in small batches. In addition to these lunch specials it has some menu items that are the same every day, and would probably fall more in the fast food category.

There is also a bakery with an extensive selection of items (pan dulce), but the restaurant itself attracts a pretty good crowd at lunch time.

The Restaurant

Pollo guisado

Pollo guisado served at the display counter

My experience with the lunch special was at the old restaurant, but when I visited the new building it was apparent that the food was the same. The items served can be viewed at the display counter, and there are usually about three or four choices. If you get chicken it will still have the bones, and items are prepared Latin American style (but not spicy unless you make it that way by adding salsa). The daily specials come with side dishes such as black beans, rice, and salad.

Beef estofada

Beef estofada

Beef Estofada is an example of the dishes served, and comes with salsa if you want to make it spicy (but Guatemalan dishes are traditionally not spicy).

The hand made tortillas have been well known at the restaurant since its beginning. Although this was one of the highlights of my meal, everything I tried was excellent, and really tasted like it was home made.

The lunch specials are already cooked and ready to be served when you get there, but they also have several menu items which can be ordered (such as pupusas).

Special Items

Christmas tamales

Christmas tamales

The restaurant is famous for its Christmas tamales, and it turned out that I was able to order some (which have to be ordered ahead of time). They make several varieties, but when I ordered I was only able to get chicken. These were interesting because the chicken still had the bones, and being Guatemala style they were not spicy. Still, they had a very good flavor and were worthy Christmas tamales.

The Bakery

Mil Ojas

Mil Ojas

Tienda Guatemala has quite an impressive bakery with a number of items. The items seemed to be the same ones served in Mexican bakeries, including Mil Ojas (I know it is supposed to be “Hojas,” but this is the way they spell it). This is a pastry that is just barely sweet, but sweet enough to be very satisfying. It reminded me of the pastries at Ingrid’s which follow the European model of being less sweet than American desserts, and I definitely thought the one I tried here was just as good as the pastries sold at Ingrid’s.

Things to Know
This part of town seems a little off the beaten path, but Tienda Guatamala is three blocks from the very popular Nic’s Grill and one block from the Hungry Frog (the hard part is finding Virginia Avenue as it veers off to the left from Pennsylvania as you travel south).

It is mostly a Spanish speaking established, but the employees seem to be quite fluent in English. It is clean and the tables even had tablecloths, but you do not get chips, sopapillas, or other items typically found in restaurants which cater mostly to Americans.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Guatemalan
Cost: $
Hours: Open for lunch (I don’t know the other hours)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 3

Best Items: Pollo Guisado, Tamales, Tortillas, Mil Ojas

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pollo Guisado
star 5 Tamales
star 5 Tortillas
star 5 Pan Dulce