El Paso, TX
Las Palmas is located in a strip mall in east El Paso, and it seemed to be an unlikely candidate for being one of the best Mexican restaurants in El Paso strictly from its location and appearance. It gets packed at lunch time, but many El Paso restaurants are the same. Like most Mexican restaurants in the city it gets good reviews, but everyone has their own taste and everyone has their own opinion about what is the best Mexican food.
In the case of Las Palmas, I make the statement that this is one of the best Mexican restaurants based on my standbys, red enchiladas, chile relleno, rice, beans, chips, and salsa. In addition, though, there are a couple of outstanding items that I do not normally order that I also think are the best in the city or very close to it, namely the guacamole and albondigas (meatballs).
Even though Las Palmas is busy, it has not been “discovered” like some some of the more popular restaurants have been. This is a good thing, because I have seen some of the more popular places go down somewhat in quality because they have to expand, add new cooks, etc. in order to meet the demand of the customers they have. I think Las Palmas is small enough to maintain their quality and consistency (and I have to say that the majority of restaurants in El Paso are like this, but not many have a flavor that I like as well as at Las Palmas).
There are different lunch specials each weekday, but rather than regular menu items served at a lower price, they are items that are only served on that day (and only for lunch). These seem to be items that take longer to prepare than most dishes, and include such items as albondigas and mole (only available on Thursday). These are also items that they are not typically available at El Paso restaurants.
Chips and Salsa
The chips and salsa were a good indication that the food would be very good here, particularly because of the fresh and flavorful salsa. The salsa is not super spicy, but it does have a good kick.
All right, it is a little confusing that the Las Palmas Special is on the regular menu, but every day they have a “special” of the day. Actually the Las Palmas Special is equivalent to what most restaurants call the Mexican Plate, or with some it may be the combination plate.
Ordering the Las Palmas Special allowed me to enjoy what are usually my favorite items, and to even get some bonus items such as guacamole.
If I had to pick a best dish here it would be the Chile Relleno. The flavor of the relleno was probably the biggest factor in convincing me that Las Palmas is at one of the highest levels of Mexican food in the city. It is covered with cheese, and writing this review largely from memory I am not sure that it even had what I would call a sauce on top. It stuck in my mind, though, that the flavor was more than just the traditional chile itself and the cheese. The breading was excellent, and I think this was the source of much of the flavor that I thought was so good.
The Red Enchilada is typically my favorite item on a combination plate. The one here was better than any I had recently tried, and very close to some of my favorites that I had not eaten recently (Forti’s, Su Casa, etc.). It was very much a case that while I was not sure the enchilada was the very best in town, having both an enchilada and chile relleno together that were this good made Las Palmas one of the best restaurants overall in my book.
I put in my notes that the Guacamole was the best that I have tried, but this does not include some that I may have had in Mexico or some from now closed El Paso restaurants (Casa Jurado may have been one of these). In any case, the guacamole was extremely good.
I barely noted the Flauta because this were much the same as I could get anywhere. If you are from any city other than El Paso, though, I think this will probably be one of the best you have tried. The flautas here only come with beef (some restaurant also have ones with chicken).
The Albondigas served Thursdays as a lunch special are a little deceiving because a bowl of soup like this does not look as filling as it actually is. It actually has several beef meatballs that make a very substantial meal, and the broth is so flavorful I could tell the restaurant really knows what it is doing when it comes to Mexican food. Albondigas are not typically one of my favorite Mexican foods, but I always enjoy something that is among the best in its class, as the one here proved to be.
The restaurant is very busy at lunch time, and the service is a little slow by the standards of when I was working in an office and only had an hour for lunch. After the usual wait for a table, though, things go pretty smoothly from that point forward.
So far my favorite dishes here are the ones that are my favorites at almost all Mexican restaurants, but the ones here were definitely better than most.
The prices did not strike me as being high or low–I think they are about normal. I had to wait for a table when I went for the albondigas, but on my other trip there was seating right away.
The Las Palmas Special was the only combination plate they had, and in this respect I would say the menu is fairly limited (I would like to have more choices for a combination plate). Of course if you have the time you can make multiple trips and try different items, but I think the Las Palmas Special gives a good sample of some of their best items.
Cuisine: Mexican El Paso
Hours: Open daily (breakfast Fri-Sun.)
Smoking: No smoking
Most Recent Visit: Mar. 11, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Red Enchiladas, Chile Relleno, Guacamole, Albondigas, Salsa