Julio’s (Cimarron Market)–El Paso, TX

Julio’s Mexican Food
7470 Cimarron Market
El Paso, TX
(915) 581-2242
Julio's Mexican Food

Julio’s Mexican Food

Julio’s had its beginning in 1944 in downtown Ciudad Juarez, Mexico when Julio and Guadalupe Ramirez opened an upscale Mexican restaurant (as opposed to the more numerous establishments serving tacos or street food). At that time it was called Julio’s Cafe Corona (I do not think this had anything to do with Corona Beer which is quite popular in Mexico).

When I first encountered Julio’s it had moved to the PRONAF area located across the “free bridge” at the eastern end of Ciudad Juarez. This was a popular commercial center with American style shopping centers as well as stores aimed at American tourists where “genuine” Mexican souvenirs could be purchased. The Sanborns coffee shop was nearby, as well as what I think were the city’s only two Chinese restaurants, the Shangri-La and the Lai Wa Yen (all of these other restaurants are still operating, and Paco Wong’s is the El Paso branch of Shangri-La).

I will have to say, though, that out of all of these restaurants, Julio’s was the one that I thought was the most special experience and which truly gave me a taste of Mexico. Julio’s was a little bit out of the tourist area, and seemed to cater to local tastes. It was definitely upscale, meaning that it had a full menu instead of specializing in tacos or another item that would be considered the restaurant’s specialty. At Julio’s everything was genuinely good, and there was a lot from which to choose.

Today when there is much focus on “elevated” Mexican food with the national cooking and talk shows, Julio’s is more and more satisfying people’s desire for this through specials, certain menu items, and I think through a number of little things where some other restaurants tend to cut corners.

Even items such as the enchiladas are more upscale than most in the sense that they have the complex flavor that rank them among El Paso’s best. In addition they have included “Enchiladas Mineras” on some recent special menus that give a taste of what it is like to have enchiladas covered with vegetables.

Julio’s has had a restaurant on Interstate 10 in east El Paso for a number of years, and sometime after this branch opened the Ciudad Juarez restaurant closed. It was explained to me that the children and grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez own the El Paso restaurants, and there are now three restaurants including one in far east El Paso.

Julio's bar area

Dining room and bar area

This Julio’s restaurant opened in early 2019 and is located in an upscale commercial center called Cimarron Market. The restaurant is located at the intersection of Resler and Paseo del Norte, and is about a half mile from Interstate 10.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Although the Salsa is very flavorful, its heat level varies quite a bit to the point that I have sometimes ordered the Chipotle Salsa at an extra cost.

The Chips are definitely among the top ones in El Paso (and this is saying a lot because El Paso chips in general are better than just about anywhere else).

Corona Mexican Plate

Julio's Mexican plate

Julio’s Mexican plate

Originally called the “Corona Mexican Plate,” the dish now known as “Julio’s Mexican Plate” is one of my favorite menu items. The dish is one of Julio’s “Specialties” meaning that it was one of the original items served at the Ciudad Juarez restaurant.

Probably my favorite part of the plate is the Red Enchilada (the red enchilada is the default on the plate rather than the green and is the way the restaurant has been serving it since 1944). This has the classic taste of an El Paso style enchilada, although I think it was actually developed in Mexico. My explanation of this is that El Paso and Ciudad Juarez used to function as one city with people crossing the border at will (or with minimal red tape as it was when I first came to El Paso). This style of enchilada was probably not common very far south of the border, but it was widely prepared in both El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

I also need to note that the enchilada can be quite spicy (although not to the level of spicy New Mexican red chile). One issue with me is the use of cumin in the El Paso style enchiladas–I like the ones such as Julio’s where if cumin is used at all it is in a very small amount where it would be a very slight flavoring and not an overwhelming presence. To me everything is right about this enchilada, although there are several others in El Paso that are probably equally good.

The Chile Relleno does not come with sauce on top, and I think this is a good thing. I believe that a really good chile relleno lets the green chile, cheese, and batter stand on their own. The one here measures up very well. This one has a very good chile and an even better batter for a very flavorful item. I noticed on the menu, though, that if you order a chile relleno plate it does have sauce on top (either a Spanish sauce or a spicy Mexican sauce).

The Shredded Beef Taco is also very good, although it is probably the weak point of the three main items because of the meat being a little greasy. When that is the worst thing I can say about a combination plate, though, I would rate this as an excellent plate. The Monterey Jack type of cheese on the taco was very good (I do not know, though, the exact type of cheese it had).

The beans and rice were both excellent, but probably I was more impressed with the rice because at most restaurants this is a weak point (but not here). I thought it had an excellent seasoning as well as being well cooked.

The Guacamole has been somewhat bland at times, but was better when I had it on the flautas. As always it was very fresh, and I remember this as being one of the best items at the Interstate 10 location when my office was located nearby.


Flautas oaxaquenas

Flautas Oaxaqueñas

One of the most popular ways to enjoy guacamole is to have it on the Flautas Oaxaqueñas. Julio’s has several types of flautas including some with no guacamole at all (but chile con queso instead). I think the “Oaxaca” version is the one that has been the most popular through the years at Julio’s, and it is a style of flauta that is very familiar in El Paso restaurants (although most probably do not cut them up into small pieces). I am not going to argue about whether Julio’s version is better than the ones elsewhere, but the main ways to judge are with the meat (Julio’s has shredded beef or chicken), the guacamole (this is a very good one), and the crisp rolled tortillas (these were fried to a golden brown without being overcooked). These were actually three flautas cut in third so that there were nine pieces served on the plate (the other flauta with guacamole on the menu is the “long” version which is not cut into thirds). I got both shredded beef and chicken flautas on my order, and I thought the beef was particularly good.

Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita pibil is one of the "specialties"

Cochinita pibil

Cochinita Pibil is one of Julio’s “Specialties” which were served at the original Ciudad Juarez restaurant. This is a Yucatan style pork dish with an achiote and orange juice flavor that I thought gave it a taste somewhat like birria. It was served in a way that you can make tacos out of it with your own condiments or citrus red onions, pico de gallo, and guacamole. This is one of the restaurant’s special treats, although with this much meat I would say you need to come with a good appetite. With all of the special dishes available in El Paso I was unsure if I should put it in my top-twenty “best of the year” list, but I suspect that at some point it will be featured.

Other Items
One of the best features of Julio’s is that it has some of the more upscale items that I like to seek out and which are not on the menus of many restaurants. I have found several of these in the section of the menu called “Julio’s Specialties” (they say these are original recipes that date back to 1944). The Corona Mexican Plate is listed in this section, and I ordered it first for the sake of nostalgia.

Some others, though, include the following:

  • Steak Tampiqueña
  • Chicken Tampiqueña
  • Chicken Mole Poblano

This is not a complete list of everything that looks good, but these are some of the items I seek out in upscale Mexican restaurants across the country when I have a chance to try them and enough of an appetite that I can order them.

Julio’s also has a section on the menu noted as “Our Classics” which include Flautas, Tacos, & Tostadas. One item I noted was the flautas, which I had at the Gateway East (I-10) location and enjoyed very much. In addition, though, they have chile con queso flautas which I do not remember ordering previously, but this was one of my favorite dishes at the now closed Casa Jurado (and I think this is a classic El Paso dish).

Weekend Buffet

Breakfast items from the buffet including pancakes

These are some of the breakfast items that are available

The buffet served on Saturday and Sunday until about 12:15 p.m. is a chance to try many items that are not on the menu as well as a few that are always served, but which can be sampled without having or order an entire plate. It includes a selection of traditional breakfast items (eggs, pancakes, etc.), Mexican lunch items, fruit, and desserts (empanadas, etc.). The first thing I will say about the buffet is that it is the best bargain at the restaurant in terms of value for what you pay, and the second is that it has some of my favorite items at Julio’s (most of which are not available on the regular menu). It does help to have an appetite when you come, though.

"Green side" from the top: green chilaquiles, sope de pollito, rajas de queso; "Red Side" from the bottom: asado de puerco, chilaquiles rojos

Some of the lunch items available on the weekend buffet

The “green side” in this photo has Green Chilaquiles (at the top), Sope de Pollito, and Rajas de Queso. Despite all being a green color, each of these has a distinct flavor. The sope de pollito was my favorite item out of these five that I chose, having a chipotle sauce with an exceptionally good flavor. The corn masa crust, though, was also exceptionally good. Rajas were probably the spiciest item on the plate, so I liked that, but the chilaquiles had a good flavor as well.

My least favorite item here was the Asado de Puerco which used cumin as one of its most prominent seasonings (and there were not enough other flavors to balance it out and make it something for which I would want to get a second helping). The Chilaquiles Rojos (at the top right) will also probably be in my “skip” category for next time. I think, though, that they will probably not have the same exact menu any two times that one would come here.

Fresh fruit ruunds out the selections

Fresh fruit and rice pudding

Fresh fruit is a nice touch although the supply runs low if you come near the closing time of the buffet. I did score the last empanada, though (which was very good).

Other Locations
The Ciudad Juarez restaurant is no longer open, but the other El Paso locations are at 8050 Gateway Blvd. East (Interstate 10) and 3630 Joe Battle Blvd. (Loop 375).

Closing Comments
The restaurant is upscale, but the prices for common dishes (such as the Mexican plate) are not out of line with the more “budget” restaurants. Julio’s does raise the price of most bills, though, because of things like charging somewhat high prices for drinks and having an extra charge for the chipotle salsa. To me it is still not high priced, especially when compared to Mexican food in other cities.

I think this restaurant has a very good concept–it has kept the traditional recipes of Cafe Corona but serves them in a modernized building and setting. It appears that the menu has also been somewhat updated and I think this is fine–all the old Cafe Corona classics seem to be here as well

So far my best experiences here have been with the weekend buffet, the Mexican plate (with an enchilada, chile relleno, and taco), and items from the “Specialties” menu (such as cochinita pibil). The flautas did not match what I remember from the Gateway East restaurant, and most of the other food does not match what I remember from the restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, but I have nevertheless had some excellent items and hope to try many others.


Cuisine: Mexican Chihuahua
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. Evening (breakfast buffet on Sat & Sun)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Has a Bar

Most Recent Visit: Mar. 29, 2024
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Red Enchilada, Chile Relleno, Shredded Beef Taco, Flautas, Cochinita Pibil, Pescado Zarandeado (from special menu), Enchiladas Mineras (from special menu), Sope de Pollito (from buffet)


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 Flautas
star 5 Beans
star 5 Rice
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

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