Peter’s–El Paso, TX

Peter’s German Grill & Bakery
255 Shadow Mountain Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 626-6368
Peter's German Grill

Peter’s German Grill


The owner of Peter’s (whose name you can guess) was formerly a baker at Lo Mart Supermarket, a grocery store that had a large selection of German baked goods and other items imported from Europe (and is a store I have missed since it closed). Fortunately, though, Peter’s German Grill and Bakery goes a long way in filling the void, except for the fact that Lo Mart used to be on both the west and east side while there is only one Peter (who is located on the west side on Shadow Mountain Dr.).

Peter operates a German restaurant that mainly serves bratwurst and schnitzel, although I know that some other items are available as well (the web site lists two other types of Wurst). Side dishes are available, and there are lunch specials every day where you can get a main item, potato salad, drink, and dessert for a price that makes it hard to resist (also when you taste the food it is hard to resist as well). Most of what I have tried so far has been because it was the daily special.

The bakery is similar to Marina’s Bakery on the east side, except here there is a greater selection of breads while Marina’s mostly serves pastries. Each of these bakeries gives you a good selection of both, though.

Peter kept telling me that Friday night is the beer special night (I think it is half price) but I have yet to check it out. So far, though, I have found more than enough to keep me interested in coming back.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Bratwurst is one of the specialties of the restaurant, and it is obvious that Peter takes care in finding a good source and in cooking it the right way. The one here is grilled, resulting in an excellent flavor of an already good sausage. Sauerkraut is served on top (unless you want onions), and all around it is excellent (but due to the nature of how it is prepared I would think it should be eaten in the restaurant like I did rather than trying to get an order to go).

A very good Potato Salad was served with mine as part of the daily special deal. The potato salad is served cold. I have been told that it is prepared in house daily (this is evident by how fresh it is, but I just want to get my facts correct).

I tried various mustards which are available for customers to use, but I did not find any that I liked as much as the mustard that Marina’s Bakery puts on their bratwurst. Otherwise, though, I would rate the bratwurst here as probably being the best in El Paso.

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel

Jagerschnitzel is one of the variations of schnitzel served here, and the mushroom gravy covering the meat lived up to my expectations (as did the meat).

The portion of meat on the schnitzels here seems smaller than at other restaurants, and to me this one is about the right size and also the right price. I also think other patrons will be happy with the flavor.

Pretzels

Pretzel

German style pretzel

One feature at Peter’s is that they have German style Pretzels made with rye, covered with rock salt, and served with butter. Like all of the bread it is fresh and baked in house.

Pastries

Cranberry and walnut bread

Cranberry and walnut bread

After trying the Cranberry and Walnut Bread I have made it a point to buy more every time I go back. This is one of my favorite things to eat at home for snacks or as part of breakfast–the sweetness is just right but it is not to the point that you will get a sugar high from it.

For those who like bread with fruit and nuts, I would honestly say I have tried quite a few of them and this one, along with the cranberry and walnut at Whole Foods, are my favorites (Whole Foods usually sells cranberry and pecan which I also like and would rate almost as highly as Peter’s).

Pastries

Black forest

Black forest

The Black Forest has a very nice cherry filling with a liqueur flavor along with a very fresh cake and European style (not too sweet) cream topping. This is definitely one of the best I have tried (I would say probably the best). The price is a little steep, but if you get it with a daily special which includes a dessert it is almost like getting it on the house.

Drinks
There is a large variety of specialty drinks in the cooler (I think most are from Europe) that include some I have tried and would recommend. Most of the drinks are available as part of the daily special although a few are more expensive and would cost extra.

Peter does not have a drink fountain (Coke, etc.) and does not serve iced tea. Beer is available, though.

Other Comments
This is a German deli that mainly serves schnitzel and bratwurst, but it is quite good. I have to look at Ingrid’s in Oklahoma City as a restaurant that is really similar in serving both deli items and baked goods/pastries. Comparing these two restaurants would probably not mean a whole lot to most readers, but it is a way of describing them–Ingrid’s has a lot larger selection of sandwiches and meat plates, but I think for what Peter’s does serve it has a better flavor. Peter’s main drawback is its small menu, but I really think people will enjoy what they get.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 21, 2018
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Jagerschnitzel, Bratwurst, Cranberry and Walnut Bread, Black Forest

Special Ratings
star 5 Bratwurst
star 5 Jagerschnitzel
star 5 Potato Salad
star 5 Pretzel
star 5 Cranberry & Walnut Bread
star 5 Black Forest

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

Sun Garden–El Paso, TX

Sun Garden Chinese Bistro
6600 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX
(915) 585-8898
Sun Garden

Sun Garden


When Sam’s Chinese Restaurant opened on Yandell Drive it was a groundbreaking moment for El Paso, not only because it offered truly authentic Chinese food but also because the people of the city embraced it. Now chef Mike Wu, one of the original owners of Sam’s, has his own restaurant on the west side called Sun Garden Chinese Bistro (another one of the original owners has moved Sam’s Restaurant to Dyer Street and his wife operates Red Lantern in east El Paso). While each of the three current “Sam’s” restaurant has its own menu items and recipes, the original traditional Cantonese style type of food can be found at all three of these restaurants.

I thoroughly enjoy all three of these restaurants, and of course the most obvious reason to choose one of them over the others is geographic. Whether you are in west, northeast, or east El Paso, authentic Cantonese and Hong Kong style food is available at any of them.

Sun Garden has a selection of authentic dishes which is very large for El Paso, and in this regard is very similar to Red Lantern. These are primarily listed in the “Specials by Mike Wu” or “Sun Garden Chinese Menu,” although sometimes when I have asked for authentic dishes I have found that they come from the regular menu. There is also a message board at the front door that lists the daily specials (and many times includes bao buns and other authentic items).

It is somewhat misleading to say any of the food here is not authentic, because all of it is prepared by Chinese people and has Chinese flavors. The food that I categorize as authentic, though, is more traditional, and is what people from China would expect at any restaurant that serves Cantonese style food. Much of it is served in large portions and is probably best served “family style” where it would be shared at a table. Because of this I have not tried a lot of the authentic dishes (another reason, though, is because they do not always have the ingredients available to make them).

What I classify as non-traditional or Americanized dishes are also Chinese at their heart but I find that the presentation is different, particularly in offering a large amount of meat with few vegetables (this is particularly true with the lunch specials). I think the sauces are very true to the Chinese style, although I have not tasted the restaurant’s most Americanized dishes such as sweet and sour or General Tso’s chicken.

If you are looking for either authentic dishes or ones that have a certain flavor the best way is to ask the staff. The menu is not always obvious, but ordering from the “Chinese Menu” does give you the assurance that it will be Hong Kong style.

Specials by Mike Wu

Seafood hot pot

Seafood hot pot with tofu

The Seafood Hot Pot with Tofu is an example of the “Specials by Mike Wu” which tend to be upscale with a generous portion that you will probably want to share. A variety of fish, seafood, meat, and vegetable dinners are available, and unlike the “Sun Garden Chinese Menu,” some of these items are spicy and represent other regions of China besides Guangdong and Hong Kong. The seafood hot pot was large enough that I took some home for another meal, which I enjoyed equally as the one in the restaurant. Although the seafood was not quite like what I had in New Orleans, it was very good. The sauce was excellent, and the few vegetables that it contained were very good. One thing that stood out was the tofu, which was a quality that is hard to find in El Paso (so I have been told by Chinese people).

Sun Garden Chinese Menu

Mapo tofu

Mapo tofu served in a hot pot

The Mapo Tofu from this section of the menu is an item I order regularly, and is definitely one of my favorites. This is the only item from this section marked as spicy on the menu, although I would say it is only mildly spicy and would not be classified as Sichuan food. I ask for it to be served in a hot pot although this is not the way it normally comes (there is no charge for changing the plate it is served in). The sauce is one of the best elements of the dish, being less sweet than at most restaurants but also more flavorful. The pork is very good quality, and I enjoy the large amount of vegetables and tofu that come with the dish. I think it also helps that the dish is a little bit spicy (or very spicy if you eat the jalapenos that are in the dish).

Once I tried to order the stir fried bitter melon with egg, but they did not have any bitter melon. I got a suitable substitute which I really liked, but when it comes to ordering traditional Chinese food in El Paso this is the approach that is frequently necessary (all restaurants in the city have trouble obtaining certain vegetables at certain times).

Regular Menu

Szechuan pork

Szechuan pork

I have sampled several items from the regular menu, and friends have commented on others, but the one I particularly like is Szechuan Pork. The vegetables are particularly notable because they include many of my favorites (wood ear, bamboo shoots, snow peas, etc.), and the fact that there are more vegetables than meat in the dish. The meat is excellent as well. The sauce is a little sweet, but the flavors are balanced to give a traditional yu shiang (fish flavored) taste.

Szechuan pork served in the restaurant

Szechuan pork served in the restaurant

This is another view of the dish served in the restaurant rather than the take-out version which I frequently order. The snow peas are not as visible here but other vegetables can be seen, including several jalapeno slices which are a large part of the dish’s spiciness.

This dish does present a dilemma, though, because the order is large but I do not think it as suitable for two meals as the mapo tofu is. It is not unreasonable to eat the entire portion in one meal but it is usually more than I want.

Lunch Specials
The lunch specials give you a smaller quantity of food at a good price, although the selection of items is fairly limited. There is always a daily special in addition to the regular menu items, though.

Szechuan chicken

Szechuan chicken served as a lunch special

For instance, Szechuan Chicken is available as a lunch special, offering another take on what I think is one of the best sauces here. Unlike the Szechuan pork I have ordered, though, this dish is mostly meat with fewer vegetables (it is still good, though).

Basil chicken

Basil chicken

Basil Chicken was one of the daily specials served for lunch that I tried. Although I liked the flavor of it, though, there was very little in the dish besides meat and basil. For someone like me who usually likes a lot of vegetables in Chinese food, this was not the best choice.

Napa cabbage with chicken

Napa cabbage with chicken

The Napa Cabbage with Chicken was a little bit better lunch choice in my opinion (and was also a daily special). The white sauce did not give it as interesting of a flavor as the basil chicken, but overall I liked it better because of the vegetables.

I did not really care much for the Egg Drop Soup, so to me the main reason to get the lunch specials is because the price is good and you get a portion of food that does not require you to take some home as leftovers (as I have frequently found to be the case with dinner items).

Some of the lunch items look as if they are quite authentic, such as the green bean pork or the roasted duck. Some definitely look Americanized such as General Tso’s chicken, but the important thing is that you get a choice (I do find it odd, though, that they have Szechuan chicken and beef but not pork).

Special Dishes

Tomato and egg

Tomato and egg

Sun Garden can prepare a few items that are not listed on the menu, such as Tomato and Egg. I got this when I tried to order bitter melon with egg but they did not have better melon. Tomatoes were substituted and it had the same sauce, so I was happy with the result.

I do not know what to tell others about what you can request as a special dish, but I believe there is very little that Mike does not know how to cook–it is mainly a matter of whether he has the ingredients. Also many traditional Chinese dishes have a long preparation time, and these would definitely need to be ordered in advance.

BBQ bun

BBQ bun

Sometimes specials are listed on the board at the front door, and a frequent one is the Barbecue Bun. This is not really sweet enough to be a dessert, but goes well with a meal (I would say especially with items such as the dinners that I sometimes try to stretch into two meals).

In A Nutshell
I have not had anything here that did not taste good, but within this framework there is a wide variety of choice–whether you want something with mostly meat or vegetables, whether you want something spicy, whether you want something big enough to share or take home as leftovers, etc. Also you can get dishes that are traditional Cantonese style, although they are mostly meat items.

For my purposes I usually either get the mapo tofu from the Chinese menu which can make two dinners for me, or the Szechuan pork from the regular (dinner) menu which is good for about two lunches (or one rather dinner when I am particularly hungry). The Luncheon Specials are meant to be smaller plates that one person can easily eat, but I have found some of the chicken dishes to have quite a bit of food. I do think there are some good smaller dishes from the dinner menu or the Chinese menu, and I will report them when I find them.

I do not think I have even begun to try a good sample of the different dishes here, and items from the Chinese menu in particular are meant to be served family style meaning that if I try it I should be prepared to take some home.

Most of the people who come with me to Sun Garden do not share my desire to try the “authentic” food, leaving me to try it for myself. It seems, though, that even people with the most limited knowledge of Chinese food like the food here, so it is a good place to come with your friends or picky family members. I am quite impressed that chef Mike has found a way to package a more Chinese tasting style of food to the mass market in El Paso, and the number of customers seems to increase every time I go to the restaurant.

Sun Garden uses MSG and so far I have not had any issues by asking them to omit it. This may be difficult on some of the slow cooked items such as roast duck, but at least with what I have ordered there have not been any problems.


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 7, 2018
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Ma Po Tofu, Szechuan Pork, Szechuan Chicken, Tomato and Egg, Seafood and Tofu Hot Pot

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Mapo Tofu
star 5 Seafood and Tofu Hot Pot
star 5 Szechuan Pork
star 5 Szechuan Chicken
star 5 Tomato and Egg
star 4 Basil Chicken
star 4 Napa Cabbage with Chicken
star 4 Egg Drop Soup