El Paso, TX
Sometimes it is difficult to compare one cuisine to another in terms of giving them a rating because it is quite subjective. It occurred to me, though, that good Mexican food can be quite similar to good Italian cuisine because of the fact that they have bold flavors matched with a starch base (pasta for Italian and rice, beans, tortillas, etc. for Mexican food). My eating satisfaction is quite similar for both of these, both are very much garlic based, and both are usually moderately spicy but occasionally very high on the Scoville Heat Level.
I say this because the very good restaurants in El Paso such as Good Luck Cafe remind me very much of the good Italian restaurants in Oklahoma. People can make their own comparisons between Mexican restaurants and other types of food, but I do think that those who are only familiar with Tex-Mex or American style Mexican food have not fully experienced what Mexican food has to offer, and Good Luck Cafe would certainly be one of my suggestions for a place to find out how more traditional Mexican food can taste.
Good Luck Cafe is a popular diner with somewhat spartan seating (or you can sit at the counter). As such, you get a different ambiance than you would at a good Italian restaurant. Some of the perks of a diner, though, include much lower prices and a varied menu that includes a range of breakfast items.
One drawback of Good Luck Cafe is that it only has one combination dinner, called the Mexican Plate. The upside is that it is very good, and if you particularly like one particular item you can order this one on its own plate. The only choice I had was between a ground beef taco and one with shredded beef (deshebrada). Either way, I would recommend trying this plate.
I thought the best item was the Deshebrada Taco, although all three of the main items were just about equally good. The taco was slightly soft but fried enough to have a good flavor, and the meat was flavored in a way that made it one of the best in the city.
The Enchiladas had a classic flavored red chile sauce, and I liked the fact that they did not taste greasy.
The Chile Relleno had a more obvious oil flavor than the other items, but was by no means swimming in grease as some chile rellenos are, and had a very good flavor. Most of the seeds had been removed so that it was not super spicy.
I did not sample the Hot Dog with Chili so I cannot give a review of it, but it is one of the “diner” options available along with the Mexican food. It is interesting that the custom in El Paso is to serve hot dogs on a round bun.
When I came here for Sunday lunch the restaurant was completely full, and is obviously very popular. I do not understand the popularity of some restaurants, but the flavor of the food and lack of grease made it obvious to me why Good Luck Cafe has so many loyal patrons. It seemed to be particularly popular with families who had come here for one of their special meals of the week.
Spanish is the predominant language here but it is not necessary for ordering or asking questions about the food. I think the restaurant would be totally comfortable for tourists provided that they are OK with diner type seating.
There are so many good Mexican restaurants in El Paso I could not say that this one especially stands out, except for the fact that everything on the plate was uniformly good. Some other restaurants are the same, but really not as great a number as one might think.
They do not serve chips here (I think this is one of the reasons they have such low prices). The salsa was in a bottle as was so spicy I did not find it advantageous to add it to the items on my plate.
I do not think they have horchata or other aguas frescas, but I actually seldom find these drinks in the restaurants located south of Interstate 10.
Good Luck Cafe has been very popular on Yelp and other sites, letting me know that my one good experience was not just a fluke.
Hours: Closed Wed.
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Mar. 18, 2018
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Deshebrada Taco, Chile Relleno