El Paso, TX
La Malinche is one of El Paso’s “classic” restaurants, having been in operation for as long as I can remember and probably many years before that. There are three restaurants in the city, this one is on the west side at Doniphan and Sunland Park (just a couple of blocks west of La Malinche is the State Line Restaurant which straddles the Texas-New Mexico border). My older reviews state that the food does not vary much between the different locations, but that I liked the west side restaurant because it had a larger dining room that I found more comfortable than the others. Now I honestly do not remember the food at the other restaurants, but I have enough confidence in my earlier memories to say that it is about the same at all three restaurants.
In my early reviews I stated that La Malinche has a homey atmosphere and food that tastes as if someone made it in their own home. Now that I have other resources to consult such as Yelp I find that many other people are making this same type of comment about the home made food. I would say that by definition this is probably simple food–nothing too fancy or that is meant to dazzle people with their innovative recipes. Instead it is more simple food that stands the test of time.
Over the years I have tried a number of items here, but by the time I published the first review my go-to items were narrowed down to red enchiladas, chile rellenos, and entomatadas. I usually went for the entomatadas because I could not find any others in town that were as good. I also really liked the horchata, although these days it is not on my diet very much because of the calories and sugar content.
One thing I do remember vividly from earlier visits was that although they had an 8:00 p.m. closing time, I tried several times to go around 7:30 or so and either it was OK or else they would say they were closed (when there were very few other customers). On a recent visit on a Sunday they ran out of caldo very early (before noon), yet this is what I saw some of the employees eat after the noon rush was over. Over the years I would say that customer service has never been the restaurant’s strong suit, although on the flip side I have had very good service from the wait staff.
Chips and Salsa
Just about every restaurant in town serves good chips and salsa, so it is hard to make note of their differences and to really say which ones are best. I have a habit of taking leftover Salsa home, though, and it is there that I noticed how distinctly fresh and flavorful this one was compared to others. In my recent memory this one is really at the top of my salsa list. Earlier I had also noted that it was jalapeño based rather than puréed, and was spicy as a result of the chiles that were used. I think it is always a good thing for salsa to be genuinely spicy as long as it is not this way because it is full of seeds (and the one at La Malinche does not have a noticeable amount of seeds).
The Chips are good. I used to think they were overly salty but I did not notice this on a recent visit.
Red Enchiladas were one of my favorite items in the past, and although I have not tried them recently I was able to get a photo when my friend ordered them. I said in the previous review that they have a “strong chile flavor” and my friend said they were quite good.
Entomatadas have been my favorite item at La Malinche for a number of years. Nobody else seems to do them as well as here, or at least no one that I have found. These are made the same way as enchiladas but instead of chile sauce they use a tomato sauce. I think the actual sauce is much more complicated than just saying it is made with tomato (the same way enchilada sauce contains a mixture of herbs and spices). The cheese is also excellent, and is also a key factor (but the sauce is also special in its own right).
The entomatadas have a Spanish sauce which is not spicy, but the flavor is quite complex the same way I find with good enchiladas. It comes with some green peppers which give it a little bit of a kick, and I definitely recommend giving it a try.
In the past I thought the Chile Relleno was excellent, but I have not tried it recently. It has the same Spanish sauce they use on the entomatadas, but the chile itself is spicy, making this fall into the category of spicy Mexican food. I have found the Spanish sauce to be the classic way to make El Paso styled chile rellenos, and based on this I would say to try the ones at La Malinche because they really do have the best Spanish sauce I have tried.
Tacos contain potato mixed with ground beef. This is a popular local style, and the potatoes are a way to make the tacos more affordable, but this is not my favorite version of the beef taco.
It is somewhat annoying that they will not make substitutions on the combination plates, but this is balanced by the fact that prices are very cheap. It may be worthwhile ordering more than you think you can eat in order to get all the items you might like to sample.
When I saw the breakfast menu it looked like a little less of a bargain than the lunch and dinner menus, thus I have not tried it. Many reviewers on Yelp, though, seem to enjoy the breakfast as much as I do with the entomatadas, so it may be well worth paying a little more if you have to.
Horchata is excellent, and like everything here is made the classic Mexican way (in the Chihuahua border style).
For a while La Malinche had five locations throughout the city, and now they are down to three. This is still a lot for a restaurant which is competing against numerous others which are serving the same type of food. Most importantly, though, the reviews say the same thing I have thought in the past–all of La Malinche’s locations have good food.
Like most Mexican restaurants, though, there are certain items that stand out and seem to make it worthy of a special trip. For me this has been the entomatadas, and I still find them to be the best I have ever had. The sauce is excellent, but the cheese also plays a large part.
A very popular time of day here seems to be breakfast, but it is not what I would call a breakfast restaurant–the lunch and dinner menu is extensive and is popular as well. Some items sell out quickly, so this is another reason to go early if you can. The food quality is still good at night, but past 7:30 they seem to be subject to closing early if they do not have a lot of customers.
Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Hours: Open Daily except Sun. evening
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Sep. 22, 2019
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Entomatadas, Red Enchiladas, Chiles Rellenos, Salsa