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

D’Lox–El Paso, TX

D’Lox
630 Sunland Park Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 760-4889
D'Lox

D’Lox


It is somewhat hard to categorize D’Lox–the restaurant’s web site describes it as “Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch.” It closes at 3:00 p.m. every day, so these are in fact the meals that are served. Sunday is buffet only (you cannot order a la carte from the menu) so this is the “brunch” day.

I think much of the food is strait-forward American style, but probably “New American” is a better description for the overall menu. The veggie panini I ordered is somewhat Italian style, although it could just be American food with more garlic and some Italian ingredients. Other items I have tried had more of a traditional American flavor (which I think is plenty good enough when done the right way).

I went once on Sunday but decided the buffet they had was a little too much for my pocketbook (you cannot order menu items on Sunday). Reviews I have seen for the Sunday brunch, though, indicate that people enjoy the food and do not mind paying the money (but like me they say you need a pretty good appetite to make it worth the money).

I decided that instead of this I could visit several times and try the items one by one, and at this point I think I have a pretty good sample of the food.

The restaurant is upscale (but casual), and the best part about it is that the service is very good so that I feel that you really can call it an upscale restaurant. They specialize in sandwiches and bagels, though, so this describes the type of “upscale” that you will find.

Eggs Benedict

Benedicts Florentine

Benedicts Florentine

At D’Lox there are so many types of Eggs Benedict served that this really looked like its own section of the menu. The Benedict Florentine I ordered is really the only breakfast item I have tried at the restaurant, and this is a dish I have probably had a handful of times in my lifetime. My focus is not usually on fine dining, but of course when I have a chance to try this type of food I am all too happy to give a review of it.

In the case of D’Lox, though, it confirmed my reasons that I usually do not spend a lot of money on upscale food. There were two egg yolks on my plate, but they were not cooked the same. One was runny and had enough egg yolk to run over the white part of the egg and give me the good flavor I was expecting.

The other egg yolk, though, was cooked into a solid texture with nothing to run over the rest of the egg. I randomly chose the good side first and finished it, not expecting that the other side would be different.

The other flavors were good, though, so I at least now know that I like Benedict Florentine. Perhaps next time, though, I will skip the one at D’Lox.

Vegganini Panini

Vegganini panini

Vegganini panini

The above photo shows one side of the Vegganini Panini open to show the inside contents, and the other side the way it looks when it is served. This was actually a very good vegetarian meal, and one that I wish had been available in El Paso when I had a strictly vegetarian diet. I only mention this to say that I have had a lot of experience with vegetarian food, and I definitely think this sandwich is one of the more upscale versions of it you can find.

The sauce on the sandwich had a tomato flavor, and I liked the way the different flavors came together on this sandwich. The only thing I can say is that Ripe had a better veggie panini (which they no longer have on the menu), so the D’Lox sandwich is now by default the best one in town I have tried.

Cubanito

Cubanito with tomato basil soup

Cubanito with tomato basil soup

The sandwich and soup combination is a good choice at D’Lox, although it is a little more expensive than either the sandwich or the soup by itself (but I think you get more food on the combination). I found from the panini that a sandwich by itself is filling, but getting the larger amount of food on the combination is probably more like my normal lunches.

On the Cubanito sandwich I will start with the part I did not like much, which was the pulled pork. I am used to barbecued pulled pork in Oklahoma City, and also notable is the Cuban sandwich at Cafe 7 in OKC (in comparison the one at D’Lox was a little disappointing). The strengths of the sandwich here were the ham and the cheese, and overall I would say the sandwich is good. I did not know what to make of the sauce because I do not know the ingredients in it, but again I think the one in Oklahoma City was a little better.

The Tomato Soup was a good complement to the sandwich, but I do not know that I would order it on its own (as opposed to the Cubanito, which I think makes a pretty satisfying meal).

3D Lox Bagel

3D lox bagel

3D lox bagel

The 3D Lox Bagel comes on a plate with all its components, and you construct your own sandwich the way you wish. I have had lox many times before and I think I was expecting this one to be a little more flavorful, but the sandwich was fine when I put it all together (which is my way of saying it was better than average but not one of the most memorable sandwiches I have had). Unlike the Cubanito, I do not think I particularly want to order this again.

The one thing I really did not like on the sandwich was the sprouts, although this is just something for which I do not have much of a personal taste.

A Summary
It is somewhat difficult to give a definite rating to this restaurant because I really liked the panini and half of my eggs benedict, but the other items were all over the scale from good to mediocre. Although I was reluctant to try the Sunday buffet, I think this is where people can really get a good taste of the food at D’Lox. On the regular menu I know that they have very good items, if you just know what to order.

A number of the new restaurants in El Paso have the type of upscale food found at D’Lox, and as of this writing there are still a number that I need to visit.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: American
Cost: $$
Hours: Breakfast & Lunch Only (Open Daily)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer and Wine

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 18, 2019
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Vegganini Panini, Benedict Florentine, Cubanito

Special Ratings
star 4 Benedict Florentine
star 5 Vegganini Panini
star 5 Cubanito
star 4 3D Lox Bagel

Sorrento–El Paso, TX

Sorrento Italian Restaurant
5325 Dyer St.
El Paso, TX
(915) 565-3937
Sorrento Italian Restaurant

Sorrento Italian Restaurant


The one thing out-of-town visitors should know about Sorrento is that it is an old style, red checkered tablecloth type of Italian restaurant. I understand that it was started in 1951, and that it is now owned by the original owners’ daughter who carries on the tradition that people in northeast El Paso remember while growing up.

My own relatives used to take my family and I to Sorrento when we would come to visit, and along with Great American on Alabama and Leo’s (which used to be in the northeast), this is one of the few restaurants still operating which I can remember from the first few times I visited El Paso.

Wine bottles on the ceiling

Wine bottles decorate the ceiling at Sorrento

There is a collection of wine bottles hanging from the ceiling that I think was there from the time of my first visits here. To me this is one of the great pieces of restaurant nostalgia that is locked in my memory.

The restaurant continues the tradition people would expect by providing red checkered tablecloths, and by having a menu with all of their favorites, mainly pasta dishes. I have seen reviews on the Internet that indicate that the best dishes are the ones with seafood, but I have to say frankly that I have never tried these. I seem to be like many other people that I am pretty much stuck on the dishes I have always ordered.

I will say a little bit about the old style Italian restaurants such as this one. This is especially important to me since Sorrento is one of the few that I remember from the time I was growing up which is still open today. Based on the new Italian restaurants, which I really enjoy, I do not think the “red sauce, checkered tablecloth” restaurants are authentic. For one thing, many of the dishes at Sorrento and other old style restaurants are made with ground beef, and I do not think this is a staple of Italian cooking (I say this never having visited Italy, but I think this is a pretty safe statement to make).

For every Italian restaurant it seems that the main draw is its sauce which is made from a “family recipe.” This is probably true, even at the old style ones, but the new restaurants seem to have a lighter tasting sauce while ones such as Sorrento seem to be heavy on the herbs and spices. I think the only thing anyone can really judge is how they like the flavor. I like the sauces at the new restaurants better (such as Monteleone), but the one at Sorrento is still pretty good. At least the sauce here tastes home made, unlike the ones at some of the national chains.

Salads and Appetizers
The biggest negative I found on a recent visit was the Salad, which consisted of some iceberg lettuce with a garlic and vinegar sauce. This type of salad can be very good, but I thought the one at Sorrento was a big fail, especially since you have to pay extra for it. This is one area where I think a lot of people would appreciate an update to the restaurant’s traditional menu (I am not sure, but I think they also have some other types of salads on the menu which I have not tried–I am just saying that I think the house salad could be better).

Some people make much the same complaint about the garlic bread, but I think there is no reason to change something that has worked for over half a century, and to stay with nostalgia on this one. These are buns which have been split in half and covered with garlic butter. The trick, though, is that they were cooked just right to make them crispy around the edge but soft in the middle.

Pasta Dishes

Lasagna

Lasagna

If I am able to make more visits to Sorrento I will mainly be working my way through the pasta dishes on the menu. I was able to order the Lasagna at a time when it worked out to make this selection, since the menu includes the warning that it takes 25 minutes to cook.

Probably its key is that it is baked with ricotta cheese, but the sauce is also very good (this is the part that contains the ground beef). I really do not order lasagna very often at any restaurant, but it is always good when I do, as it was here.

Pizza
I remember the Pizza as being very good, but I have not had any in a while. I think I have pretty much decided that this will be on the list for next time.

Dessert

Spumone

Spumone

The Spumone used to be my favorite dessert here as well as the best I have tried anywhere–now it is number two on both counts. Monteleone’s has one that I thought was better, so it is now the best that I have tried (not that I have tried spumone at a lot of restaurants, but it has been a few). What causes the one at Sorrento to still be classified as one of my favorites is that it is house made (as are all of the desserts). I think they are using a traditional recipe, and they have all of the ingredients necessary to make this a special dish. This is like having ice cream at Baskin Robbins or one of the premium ice cream stores, but with a much better flavor combination than I find at many of the stores.

As far as the best dessert at Sorrento–I think it is the Tiramisu. My dining companions ordered it and I tried a sample, leading me to conclude that like the spumone, this is one of the best I have tried anywhere. It did not have the variety of flavors that the spumone had, but its flavor was excellent and was something I will remember for a while.

A Summary
The tried and true formula Sorrento uses is resonating with people, because the restaurant was almost completely full on a recent visit I made. For this to happen, it always has to be a combination of good food, reasonable prices, decent service (the service I got was more than decent), and feeling comfortable to come back.

The recipes here are what I would call old style Italian, but the food is fresh and prepared very well. Unlike some restaurants there was not such a large serving that I had to take some home, yet it was filling and I got a good dinner for the money.

There was a time when I thought the quality of the food at Sorrento went downhill, but this is now many years in the past. It is now like I remember it from the old days.

I do not really have any tips about what to order, because I am re-exploring the menu myself and finding out what I like now as opposed to what I liked in the “old days.” I will probably order the lasagna again, but I would also like to try some other items on the menu.


RATING: 20

Cuisine: Italian
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sat. lunch & Sun. lunch
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer and Wine

Most Recent Visit: Apr. 13, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Lasagna, Spumone, Tiramisu

Special Ratings
star 4 Lasagna
star 5 Spumone
star 5 Tiramisu