El Paso, TX
Carlos & Mickey’s is one of the city’s old-time “classic” restaurants serving El Paso style Mexican food (that combines Chihuahua style cooking with local chiles and other border style twists). There are now two Carlos & Mickey’s in El Paso plus one at the airport (usually I discount the airport locations as being an “express” version of the airport that is not as good as the original with the exception of one experience I had at LAX, so this means that you never really know until you try it).
I have eaten at the “other” Carlos & Mickey’s on Magruder for a number of years, and have largely dismissed it as a tourist trap, but my last visit was over ten years ago. Even as touristy as I thought it to be, it still had good food (I think much better than the ultimate tourist attraction of La Posta in Mesilla, New Mexico). I thought, though, that people went to Carlos & Mickey’s more for the drinks and the mariachis than the food.
The actual name of the Magruder restaurant was Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s (perhaps the “bandidos” part was a reference to the prices they charged?). In any case, for whatever reason the Montwood location is strictly “Carlos & Mickey’s.” I think this is a good thing because this is what everyone calls both restaurants, and the fact that I had to list it on the index under the “L’s” meant that some people may not have found my review.
The Montwood restaurant is relatively new and smaller than the original restaurant (so the Magruder restaurant is probably still better for the ambiance because of the hacienda style building and the outdoor patios, etc.). I frankly liked the food better on Montwood, though. Whether Carlos & Mickey’s has changed their food, whether it is different at the two locations, or whether my tastes have changed over the ten years since my last visit, is yet to be determined. I do make a recommendation, though, to visit the Montwood location.
I am currently developing a list in my mind of the best Mexican restaurants in El Paso. The top category are ones that I think are the very best and which contains about three restaurants (Amigos, Forti’s, and Las Palmas, but is subject to change). The next category includes more restaurants but is still very exclusive, and I think Carlos & Mickey’s Montwood may be a member (but with only one visit there I do not want to say definitively). In any case, this is a very good El Paso style Mexican restaurant.
Chips and Salsa
There are a couple of things I like about the Salsa here: it is spicy (not gringo style) and it does not contain cilantro.
The Chips looked like round tortillas that had been toasted, but otherwise seemed traditional and good.
I liked the fact that they paid a lot of attention to some small things that many restaurants do not, such as as the chips and salsa.
Many restaurants offer a “Mexican Plate” with a combination of items so you can try different things. At Carlos & Mickey’s they have several choices, such as the Chihuahua Plate that I ordered.
The Red Enchilada on this plate had a very good flavored red chile, and was spicy to about the “4 chile” level without being too spicy. The flavor was a little bit different than most, with a somewhat vinegary taste (I don’t know what that is about, but it was good).
The Chile Relleno surprised me by not having sauce on top. although you have a spillover effect of the red sauce from the enchilada. The Mexican cheese inside was very good, as were the green chile inside and the batter around the outside.
I believe the Taco comes with shredded beef, but if not you can order it this way. I really thought the key to this being an excellent taco was the Mexican cheese, so it would not matter much whether you get it with ground or shredded beef.
Out of the rice and beans, probably the beans are better (but both were very good).
I noticed that there were no green enchiladas on the menu, and I asked the waiter about it. I had remembered that at the Magruder restaurant the green enchiladas were Tex-Mex style and not typical of El Paso food, but I wondered why they were not listed on the menu here. The waiter said they were called chile con queso, and that you could order an enchilada with this as a topping (this would be what I called the “green enchilada” at the other restaurant). This cleared up the mystery, although it is probably not something I will order at either restaurant.
There were not any other favorite items from the other restaurant that I did not try here except the tamales, so I would say this would be something worth trying at some point.
When I used to go to the Magruder location they did not serve horchata, and I do not know if they have have now added this to the menu. The iced tea here is good, though, and of course they have alcoholic beverages.
The original and largest restaurant is at 1310 Magruder St. near the airport, and there is one in the terminal of El Paso International Airport.
The “El Paso” style designation of this and other restaurants means that the chile on top of the enchiladas is spicy but not as much so as most New Mexico restaurants. I think this is a good place to try the local cuisine, particularly because they combine it with very good Mexican cheese, and the chile relleno is not smothered with the spicy chile as many restaurants do.
There is no green chile here, but instead it is called chile con queso. My recommendation would be to get this as an appetizer or side dish rather than on an enchilada, because the red enchilada is the one you would really want if you would like to try El Paso style cuisine. The Chihuahua plate I tried (with enchilada, taco, and relleno) had a very good selection of items, and was also about the right amount of food for me.
I cannot think of an item that it better at Carlos & Mickey’s than at any other restaurant in town, but what I tried was certainly as good as I can find at most restaurants.
Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Hours: Open Daily
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full bar
Most Recent Visit: Mar. 10, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Chile Relleno, Shredded Beef Taco