The German Pub–El Paso, TX

The German Pub
9530 Viscount Blvd.
El Paso, TX
(915) 595-8888
German Pub

German Pub


I understand that The German Pub (or simply “German Pub” as it says on the sign) used to be a popular place on Fort Bliss, particularly with the many German personnel who were stationed there. I think it was always meant to be a drinking place where you could get some good food rather than the other way around. Either way, though, the food is pretty impressive for a place that is this small and this focused on good beer.

The menu selection is somewhat limited, and it seems that about half the items are different types of schnitzel. It does list several types of fish, though, as well as bratwurst and sausages, and even potato pancakes.

The atmosphere here is basic as would be expected in a pub. It is lacking some of niceties that would be evident in many German restaurants such as table decorations, etc. I did not think the noise level was too bad but apparently it is noticeable at times.

Schnitzel

Wiener schnitzel

Wiener schnitzel with home fries

Schnitzel seems to be a specialty of The German Pub–there are different toppings and they even have a chicken schnitzel. I thought the Wiener Schnitzel was one of the better ones I have eaten. The meat was good quality, and I particularly liked the breading. For flavor this was certainly a very good choice.

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel with sauerkraut

Jagerschnitzel has a mushroom sauce on top, and is usually my number one choice for schnitzels. In this case I am not sure, since the regular wiener schnitzel was so good, but this one was good as well. It had the same excellent breading as the regular schnitzel, and of course the only difference is the topping. As for the sauce, I have to say that I think Peter’s (in west El Paso) has a sauce that is more flavorful. There is not enough difference, though, that I would prefer going to one restaurant over the other.

Cordon bleu

Cordon bleu with home fries

I thought the Cordon Bleu was overall the best dish I tried, but I do not have an analysis of it other than to say the flavors came together very well and the quality was very good.

Side Dishes
The Home Fried Potatoes were a very good choice for a side dish. These are cooked with bacon, and I think have all the flavor that would be expected in German style potatoes.

I did not think the Sauerkraut was one of the best ones I have tried, but it was fresh and had the characteristics of one that was house made.

Summing It Up
The food here compares favorably with German food I have had in other cities, with the exception that the menu was more limited than usual. I think this is especially true of the vegetables and side dishes.

El Paso has a very limited choice of German restaurants, but the quality of the food is good because of the fact that Fort Bliss has a hosted the German Air Force for a number of years in joint training missions. The German Pub and other restaurants have proven the test of satisfying their German customers as well as the American ones.

I have not tried the German beer at The German Pub, but this is obviously one of its main attractions.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer (has German beer on tap)

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 10, 2018
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Cordon Bleu, Wiener Schnitzel, Jagerschnitzel, Home Fries

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Cordon Bleu
star 5 Wiener Schnitzel
star 5 Jagerschnitzel
star 5 Home Fries
star 4 Sauerkraut

Mekong Thai–El Paso, TX

Mekong Thai
1816 N. Zaragoza Rd.
El Paso, TX
(915) 856-0299
Mekong Thai

Mekong Thai


Mekong Thai represents both the frustration I have with El Paso Asian restaurants and the surprise that we get Asian food this good in a city where most people know little about authentic Asian cuisine.

My frustration stems from the fact that this restaurant is called Mekong Thai, Vietnamese, and Sushi (the Mekong River runs through two of these countries so that part at least makes sense). My philosophy is almost always that if a cook is from a certain country, that is the cuisine I want to try in that restaurant. I also know that if I ask for the authentic version there is a good chance it can be specially prepared, or that I will be pointed to the best menu choices for the type of food I want.

At this restaurant I was trying to ask these questions but I really do not think they understood what I wanted. The waitress told me that pad thai was a very popular dish and therefore that is what I should order (which was not the question I was trying to ask). I did order it, though, and afterward one of the chefs came into the dining room and I was able to ask him what had been my real questions. I found out that this was in fact one of their better dishes and that I had been given a good recommendation. Thai food was the chefs’ specialty, and at least the name “Mekong Thai” and the fact that most of the menu was Thai food gave a good indication of this.

Further conversation revealed that at least one of the chefs is from Laos, and the “native” food for both of them is Lao/ Northern Thai (Isan) style food. A former restaurant called True Thai on Fred Wilson Avenue across from Fort Bliss had an owner from this area, and she once made a special order of Isan style pad thai for me which I really loved and have been seeking out ever since. I believe the pad thai at Mekong is what I have been seeking, and perhaps it could be made a little bit more authentic if I request it, but the version they served me seemed really close.

Pad Thai

Pad thai

Pad thai

Pad Thai is supposedly one of the most popular dishes at Mekong, and this makes me think that people in El Paso (as in most other places) appreciate authentic and well prepared Asian food when it is made available. I think this surpasses the flavor in most pad thai dishes, although I could not say specifically what ingredients are in it unless I asked the chef. The color makes me think tamarind paste is prominent in the sauce, and the other ingredients are what I would expect in a good pad thai. In any case I thought this was a very good version of the dish.

My notes say I ordered the pad thai at a three star chile level, but I do not know the maximum amount of stars they have. To me the 3 star level was not enough, and I used the chile they gave me on the side to supplement it. It is always necessary to experiment with the chile level when I try Thai food in a new restaurant, and I made it right by adding my own. At least I am fairly confident that they will not surprise people by making the food too spicy for them (I have had this happen on occasion, and restaurants are probably following good policy by erring on the side of making it too mild rather than too hot).

Lao Food
On one hand I was upset that the wait staff could not give me enough information to know that the chefs were Lao, so that I could have ordered this type of food. On the other hand, though, I got one of the best pad thai dishes I have ever had (at the waitress’s suggestion), and I do think it was northern Thai (Isan) style based on what I can remember about the pad thai I had at True Thai Restaurant.

My belated conversation with the chef did give me some good information for next time, though, or just for general knowledge. He indicated that a couple of items on the menu are Lao dishes–papaya salad and a beef dish (I did not get the name of it but I think it was written on a special menu board they had).

The chef also indicated that there are several dishes on the menu that you can ask to be prepared “Lao style” so that they will have a little different flavor than the normal version. One thing he mentioned is that Lao food has more egg in it than the Thai version.

Some Further Comments
With Thai food I need to try several dishes before I can determine what I think is their best dish. What I can say, though, is that the pad thai was one of the top ones I have had anywhere.

I am not giving a rating to the restaurant yet because of the small sample size of food I have tried. In addition, I have not tried the Lao food, and I do not know if there are any “special dishes” which I could try. I do know, though, that the regular menu has some solid choices of delicious food.

They apparently have Vietnamese food as well, but I have not tried it and I do not even know what dishes are offered. I do think, though, that these chefs have good expertise with Asian food.


RATING: N/R

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Tue.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 10, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: Pad Thai

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Thai Tea
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pad Thai

Nopalito–Las Cruces, NM

Nopalito Restaurant
310 S. Mesquite St.
Las Cruces, NM
(575) 524-0003
Nopalito on Mesquite St.

Nopalito on Mesquite St.


There are two Nopalito Restaurants in Las Cruces, and I have been going to the original on Mesquite Street for just about as long as I have been in the area (since sometime after its opening in 1964 but I am not revealing the exact date!). I have always particularly enjoyed the salsa, although some of the menu items have been hit or miss.

I generally do not reward this type of restaurant with a rather exclusive “25 or above” rating, but I feel that its red enchiladas alone are worthy of giving this type of honor to the restaurant, not to mention the wonderful salsa made with chunks of fresh green chile and warmed so that the flavor can be enjoyed even more. Some other items are not as noteworthy, but I definitely think these are among the top red enchiladas in the state (and I could probably say the same thing about the salsa).

I am glad this restaurant has not had a Gordon Ramsay makeover because I enjoy the 1960’s style booths and tables, and if they changed it the nostalgia value of the restaurant would be lessened, even though I am sure the food would be just as good. Do not worry, though, because the seats and tables seem as if they have been refurbished or replaced since 1964, but just kept in the same style.

The cuisine here is New Mexican, with local red and green chile used in the enchiladas and other items. Of course all chefs have their own recipe for enhancing the chile and bringing out the classic chile flavor, and I think Nopalito is one of the best.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

The green chile Salsa here is renowned in the local population and also with just about anyone who has visited the restaurant over the years. This is a mild chile (by New Mexico standards) made with fresh cut chile and heated just before serving for a lasting memory that I have had since my first visit here. The smaller bowl of red salsa is more spicy, but I think the green one has the edge on flavor.

I think the chips are somewhere between nondescript and a detriment to enjoying the wonderful flavor of the salsa. Although I have been disappointed by the chips, I would not call them bad (I think Oklahoma has a corner on that market).

Red and Green Chile

Red enchiladas

Some of the best red enchiladas in New Mexico

The Red Enchiladas are ones that I would rate as among the best in New Mexico, at least in terms of the chile. Spices are added in a way that enhances the chile without overwhelming it, and Nopalito left me with one of the most pleasant chile aftertastes in my mouth that I have ever experienced. They use regular tortillas instead of blue corn (as is the custom in Las Cruces), but the chile is so good it really does not matter.

The egg was overcooked with regard to the way I ordered it. This and the chips are part of a pattern of little things that detract from the experience here, but not enough to change my opinion about the things that really matter such as the red chile and green salsa.

Besides the egg there is also a choice of beef, chicken, or sour cream if you want something besides plain cheese enchiladas.

I really should rate the red chile as five on the one-to-five chile scale I have set up, and I think it will be too spicy for some. I wanted to distinguish it, though, from the super hot chile found at some old style restaurants such as Pepper Pot in Hatch. There is a time in my chile experience that I like the spicy stuff, but I think Nopalito has the same good flavor without some of the possible side effects of extremely spicy food.

The Beans and Rice are excellent as side dishes, but especially the beans.

The enchiladas and other dishes have a side salad that looks like cole slaw without the sauce. This is a garnish and does not have to be eaten, but I think it is much better than at restaurants where they only serve lettuce.

Stuffed sopapilla

Stuffed sopapilla

The Stuffed Sopapilla is served as an individual item, and would be equivalent to the small order at Nellie’s. Even though it was small it was overkill with an order of enchiladas, but I enjoyed the flavors.

The stuffed sopapilla that is pictured came with green chile, which I also like but I do not think it is quite comparable to the red. It is a little spicier than the red but not noticeably so.

Other Dishes
The Chiles Rellenos are made with Hatch chiles, and are topped with the same green chile used on the green enchiladas (both are very good). I still consider Chope’s in La Mesa, though, to have the best rellenos in the valley.

When I tried the Gorditas I found them less exciting that other items, but I need to have a more recent experience to give a more thorough review.

Other Notes
I think just about any dish here will be excellent by Mexican food standards, but the red enchiladas really stand out to me as a “must try” if you like this type of food.

South of the border and modern style Mexican restaurants are proliferating in Las Cruces, but Nopalito is one of the best places to go for traditional New Mexican style food. Hatch chiles have recently come into popularity throughout the country, but they have been a staple of Las Cruces cuisine all along. The green chile salsa at Nopalito, though, is probably one of the best examples of the green chile that can be found.

The other location of Nopalito is at 2605 Missouri Street, and it is also open seven days a week.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes (But the restroom does not have a grab bar)
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 8, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Salsa

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: Vegetable (Lard used in the refried beans)

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchilada
star 5 Green Enchilada
star 5 Stuffed Sopapilla
star 4 Chile Relleno
star 4 Gordita
star 5 Beans
star 5 Rice
star 4 Chips
star 5 Salsa