Valley Super Market–El Paso, TX

Valley Super Market
850 Resler Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 585-1003
Valley Super Market

Valley Super Market on Resler


Valley Super Market is a local meat market and Mexican grocery store with several locations in El Paso. Not being familiar with many of the items normally sold in Mexican markets, it is hard for me to make a comparison with other stores. I would classify it as a small store, though, which mainly carries items not sold in the regular super markets (such as Wal-Mart, etc.) that you would want to use for Mexican style cooking.

The Resler location has a meat market, bakery, a section for other groceries, and a restaurant that is served deli style (you order at the counter and select the items you want from the display case). The restaurant closes an hour earlier than the store, though (the store closes at 8:00 p.m.–7:00 on Sunday).

I indicated below that I have eaten at the restaurant two times, but I have visited the store several other times for baked goods and other items. The overall rating, though, is mainly for items served at the restaurant.

The Restaurant

Mexican plate

Mexican plate with rice, beans, chile relleno, taco, and enchilada

Most items are served individually or by the pound, but they do have some combination plates available such as the Mexican Plate shown in the photo. Although this was not the absolute best Mexican plate I have had in El Paso, it is a good deal for the money, and I enjoyed the food. The Red Enchilada was particularly noteworthy as being a good representative of El Paso style Mexican food. It was not too spicy but had a good flavor.

The Chile Relleno did not stand out much from others in the city except for the fact that the rajas con queso on top were so flavorful that they turned it into a somewhat exceptional relleno.

The Shredded Beef Taco was good but was a little lacking in flavor compared to some others in the city.

The Rice with lima beans was very good, especially compared to most other restaurants.

The Beans were not special for El Paso but were excellent compared to most other places.

You do not get chips with a dinner here, but they provide salsas to go with the food.

There is no tea but Mexican sodas are available.

Items served by the Pound

Chile colorado and chile verde

Chile colorado and chile verde

For any item that is not part of a plate, you will need to specify how much you want. This is also a way to get a meal if you go after the restaurant closes at 7:00 but the store is still open (until 8:00 pm). Tables are available any time during store hours.

Shown in the photo are a half pound each of chile colorado and chile verde, along with some beans. The Chile Verde was so spicy that I thought this detracted from its flavor (I admit that I am not a diehard chilehead). I found the Chile Colorado to be very flavorful, though, and is one of the best in El Paso for sure. Both had a large potato content which I think enhanced the flavor of each one.

Grocery Items

Tamales

Tamales

One notable grocery item is the Tamales, which come in three flavors–red, green, and queso con rajas. In order to try them I had to buy three packages with six tamales in each, and some ended up in the freezer (I don’t think they are as good after this). Even when fresh, though, I did not think they were as good as some in Canutillo (either at Lupita’s or the Little Diner).

The Pan Dulce from Valley Super Market’s bakery is good, although I agree with some comments I have seen that it is probably better at Los Jarrones at Redd Road and Doniphan. I think Valley has a better selection of items than Los Jarrones, though.  I have not made an item by item comparison of the two bakeries but one thing I particularly like here is the soft bread with jelly inside (such as strawberry).

Other Notes
In addition to the food being inexpensive, it is also self serve so you do not necessarily need to leave a tip (although you can). The food is actually very good, but the main thing I do not like is that they do not have iced tea.

The food seems to be Chihuahua style, although I think the enchiladas are typical of El Paso (they have more chile sauce than the typical Ciudad Juarez enchiladas). I was pleasantly surprised by the chile con rajas served on top of the chile relleno, and I think this is probably a Mexican tradition rather than one normally found north of the border.

I did not notice a strong selection of items such as fresh fruits and vegetables in the store–I think it is mostly meat and packaged items. However, I have not purchased any and I do not know specifically what they have in the way of produce.


RATING: 23

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

Most Recent Visit: Jul 26, 2018
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Red Enchilada, Chile Relleno con Rajas, Chile Colorado

 

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 4
Cooking Oil: N/A

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Red Enchilada
star 5 Chile Colorado
star 5 Chile Relleno con Rajas
star 4 Tamales
star 4 Shredded Beef Taco
star 4 Chile Verde
star 5 Pan Dulce
star 4 Banana Bread

Tara Thai–El Paso, TX

Tara Thai
2606 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX
(915) 219-9307
Tara Thai

Tara Thai


Tara Thai is located in the Cincinnati Entertainment District, a popular night spot for UTEP students and others throughout the city. When I first visited it in 2009, though, its main customer base seemed to be the university students who came here for lunch. Tara Thai took over the former Golden Buddha restaurant, and transformed this location from what I think was considered a economical restaurant to one which is more upscale. Probably because of the dichotomy between budget minded students at lunch and a more sophisticated crowd at night, Tara Thai has different menus at lunch and dinner (the most well known Thai dishes versus ones that are more innovative and upscale).

The lunch and dinner menus have similar types of sauces and flavors, but dinner has more upscale meat selections as well as some unusual curries (such as chuchee curry for the salmon dish). Meat selections at dinner include salmon, calamari, or rib eye steak while lunch is mostly a choice of chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu. Some substitutions are allowed, and I think you can order from the dinner menu at lunch if you want, but dinner is definitely more upscale.

One thing Tara Thai has accomplished is serving food with a real Thai taste (and this has not always been the case in El Paso). I make this statement comparing the Thai food I have tried in a number of cities. Thai food, like American food, leaves a lot of room for individual cooking styles and interpretations of the traditional cuisine. When I can taste so many spices and flavorings, though, I believe I have found the “real deal,” as at Tara Thai. The owner told me they serve food from Bangkok, and I believe this includes the best dishes from different regions as you would find in most national capitals.

Another important element of Tara Thai is high quality ingredients. I refer to some items at the restaurant as being more upscale than others, and some are ones that I believe have a better flavor, but as far as the food’s quality and faithfulness in executing any dish the way it should be, I have not seen a difference in anything I have tried here.

Lunch Menu

Lunch salad

Complimentary lunch salad

A complementary Lunch Salad is an extra benefit of going at noon time. The greens were very good and the ginger vinaigrette dressing goes very well with Asian food. I do note, though, that many Thai restaurants give you appetizers such as spring rolls or dumplings, while at Tara Thai these cost extra.

Keaw warn

Keaw warn

One good dish from the “curry” menu at lunch is Keaw Warn, a dish of chicken, green beans, bamboo shoots, and sweet basil leaves cooked in this special green coconut curry. I substituted tofu for the chicken, and for an extra charge you can also get beef, pork, or shrimp (I was very happy with the tofu, though). I believe I ordered the medium spice level which turned out to be what I normally consider as spicy (I may be remembering this incorrectly, but I do know that the three spice levels available here are low, medium, and Thai). In any case, they will not serve customers an extremely spicy dish without disclosing this at the time it is ordered.

Some notable characteristics of the keaw warn were that the flavors were complex, very good, and not sweet like Americanized Thai food. There are three other types of curry served on the lunch menu which I expect share these same characteristics.

Spicy basil chicken

Spicy basil chicken

Spicy Basil is a plate I ordered for lunch several years ago (now the menu has a Basil Sauce dish with a Thai chili sweet basil sauce). I do not know if this is still the same dish, although the vegetables are just about the same, and it still comes with the default chicken (but you can get other meats or tofu if you wish). What confuses me is whether there are really two different basil sauces (a sweet one and a spicy one) or whether they use different wording for the same sauce.

The spicy basil sauce was so good I was tempted to keep ordering it on return visits. This would probably not be a good idea at Tara Thai since everything on the menu seems to be worth trying, but nevertheless I was very impressed with the basil sauce.

The dinner menu has two basil dishes, a Street Style Chicken Basil topped with an egg and a Crispy Chicken Basil with lightly battered chicken. The crispy chicken has what they call a spicy basil sauce (the same one I ordered on the lunch plate), but the menu is not really clear about whether they have one basil sauce or two.

My experience with the basil lunch plate was that it turned out spicier than I expected (this was quite a while ago, but I believe I ordered it medium as I did with the keaw warn). In any case, I have no personal plans to order anything here “Thai spicy” just to see how hot it really is.

Dinner Menu

Pad woon sen

Pad woon sen

Pad Woon Sen is listed in the “Fried Rice and Noodles” section of the dinner menu, and came with shrimp when I ordered it (but now is served with chicken). These are glass noodles with egg, garlic, baby corn, carrots, and cabbage in the restaurant’s “home cooking sauce.”

I did not find this as notable as some other dishes in terms of flavor (I was not really able to tell if the home cooking sauce made a big difference). It was good, though, and sometimes Thai noodles are exactly what satisfies a person’s craving for Thai food.

Chuchee salmon

Chuchee salmon

Salmon with Chuchee Sauce was something that really turned out to be better than I expected. The salmon was good quality (although I do not know what kind of salmon was served). The chuchee sauce made this one of the best salmon dishes in El Paso, with a complex flavor worthy of a good Thai dish (chu chee curry in Thailand is made specially for seafood dishes). With Tara Thai’s specialized curries and dishes that cannot be found at most other restaurants, I really see that they have upped the game for Thai food in El Paso (although at higher prices than at most Thai restaurants).

Other Dishes
The menu is somewhat of an odd combination of not having some of my favorite dishes (such as pad prik king), while other dishes are listed that I have not seen anywhere else. There seems to be very little overlap between the lunch and dinner menu, so if you want familiar dishes (pad thai, panang curry, etc.) go at lunch. For dinner you can expect very upscale items that I think will be served at few restaurants anywhere in the country (they do have panang curry at night, but it is with sliced beef and not the normal meats served in this dish).

Other Information
Tara Thai shares a parking lot with the Rib Hut next door, and this sometimes makes finding a parking space, and especially an accessible space, somewhat difficult. I think Tara Thai does not have any control over the parking situation, but this could be a factor if you come at a busy time.

The restaurant, though, is apparently able to handle customers even when the restaurant is full (as it has been certain times that I have gone). With the quality of the food served and the lack of alternatives for similar food, I do not see how it could not be full most of the time.

I believe you can ask for a default spice level that the chef believes will best bring out the flavor. I do not remember if I have ever tried this, though, and I know that on my most recent visit the waiter asked me which of the three spice levels I wanted (low, medium, or Thai). When I find out more information I will report it, but for now I strongly advise the great majority of people not to get anything above the medium level.

The Thai tea here is very good and works well to help quench any heat in your mouth that might result from the chefs being very zealous in adding chiles to the meal.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: There was no marked handicapped parking on my last visit
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jul. 26, 2018
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Keaw Warn, Chuchee Salmon, Spicy Basil

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Thai Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Chuchee Salmon (dinner)
star 5 Pad Woon Sen (dinner)
star 5 Spicy Basil (dinner)
star 5 Keaw Warn (lunch)
star 5 Thai Tea

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