Restaurant Guide–El Paso

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  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Canutillo

Flautas Tepalca–6994 Doniphan Dr. (Mexican) Open Daily. One of the best flautas in the El Paso area (or really anywhere in the U.S. I have tried them).  However, this and a couple of other items are the entire menu except for “nieves” (ice cream) and aguas frescas. (Now has two locations in El Paso–5198 Doniphan and 500 N. Zaragoza Rd.) (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Little Diner–7209 7th St. (Mexican) Closed Wed.  Has New Mexico style enchiladas (spicy). Chiles rellenos are very good. Gorditas are some of the best anywhere. Another favorite item is Christmas tamales (order a few days ahead of time and pick up on Christmas eve). (Dining room is open 7-19-20)

Lupita’s Tamales–6860 Doniphan Dr. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Take out only. Red chile tamal is excellent. Chile con queso tamal and tamal dulce are very good to go with it. (Takeout only 7-19-20)

Maracas–900 Talbot Ave. (Puerto Rican) Closes at 6 pm (closed Sun & Mon).  OK, it’s a novelty in El Paso to find Latin American food that is not Mexican, but reviewers say this place is really good (especially the Cuban and Philly sandwiches). (Takeout only 8-22-20)

Peppe’s–6761 Doniphan Dr. (New Mexican) Closed Mon; open to 7pm Thu-Sat. This is one of the Griggs family restaurants (the others are La Posta in Mesilla, NM and El Pinto in Albuquerque). Peppe’s is small and not a tourist attraction like the other restaurants, and I believe the food is more true to the Griggs family recipes (and it is spicier). My favorite items include the tostada compuesta, green enchiladas, chile relleno, and cole slaw. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

El Paso

Anson Eleven–303 N. Oregon St. (New American) Closed Sun evening. This is one of several new upscale restaurants located in or near downtown. I am putting it on the list because I tried the brunch so I can vouch for the food. Like Cafe Central it has elements of Mexican food in the menu (although I haven’t seen their regular menu I think they have more Mexican dishes than Cafe Central). The food here is very good and very close to fine dining (I think the main difference is that here you can get in and out fairly quickly if you need to. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Cafe Central–109 N. Oregon St. (Fine Dining) Closed Sun.  More expensive than I usually put on this list, but I think their Mexican dishes are really worth the money (such as the puntas de filete). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Cafe Italia–6705 N. Mesa St. (Pizza) Closed Sun-Mon.  Wood fired pizza (not Neapolitan style though). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Cafe Mayapan–2000 Texas Ave. (Mexican) Lunch only (closed Sun).  Authentic Mexican from different regions of Mexico. I am impressed not only by the variety of food, but also the quality. They have had takeout only during and after the pandemic, and I do not know when or if they will get back to normal dine-in service. This is run by a non-profit organization so they do not always operate like a normal restaurant. (Takeout only 6-14-21)

Carnitas Queretaro–7410 Remcon Cir. (Mexican) Open daily (opens at 8 am). There are four locations in town and this is the one on Mesa (just e. of the I-10 interchange). The restaurant streamlined it menu first because it moved and then because of the pandemic, and now seems to specialize in certain things. It is good for steaks, and a waiter recommended the Arrachera although I have not yet tried it. One thing I especially like here is the mole poblano. The plato mexicano is also one of the best in the city partly because the taco is made with carnitas (the restaurant’s signature dish although I like it best on a taco). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

El Jacalito–2130 Myrtle Ave. (Mexican) Breakfast and lunch only (closed Sun). Probably the definitive place in El Paso for inexpensive, real Mexican style lunches (I like the Mexican plate or the chile verde). El Jacalito is one of the best places in town for Lent specials (Fridays during Lent and the Thursday before Easter). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Forti’s–321 Chelsea St. (Mexican) Closed Sun.  A local favorite, but I find it to be a little inconsistent (my tip is to go during their busiest times because I think these are when their best cooks are on duty). Tampiquena and red enchiladas are my favorites here, but for first time visitors I would recommend the combination plate. The red sauce may be the best in El Paso (and I have tried a lot of them). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Han Il Gwan–9477 Dyer St. (Korean) Closed Sun (open daily according to Yelp).  El Paso has several good Korean restaurants, but this is my favorite. Has a good selection of items, and I don’t have problems with MSG. (Dining room is apparently open 6-14-21)

H&H Car Wash–701 E. Yandell (Mexican) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  Breakfasts are excellent (I like the huevos rancheros). I don’t care for the lunches so much. (I don’t know if dining room is open 8-22-20)

Julio’s Cafe Corona–8050 Gateway Blvd. East (Mexican) Open daily (breakfast on Sat & Sun).  Originated in Ciudad Juarez. I like to order their specialties and items that use their original recipe. Cochinita pibil is very good. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

L&J Cafe–3622 E. Missouri Ave. (Mexican) Closed Sun evening. Open since the 1920’s, it is famous for being located across the street from the graveyard. Some good items include the red enchilada, green enchilada, caldillo, salsa, and lemonade. The combination plate I had here in 2021 is the best I have had in the city. I think the only time you can get a table without waiting is at about 4 in the afternoon-otherwise be prepared for long lines. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Las Palmas–1605 George Dieter Dr. (Mexican) Open daily (breakfast on Sat & Sun).  This is a relatively new discovery for me, but I think the Mexican food here rivals anywhere in town (enchiladas, chiles rellenos, etc.). (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Marina’s German Bakery–2033 Trawood Dr. (Bakery) Closed Sun.  This is my number one spot in town for freshly baked bread. Also serves bratwurst for lunch, and I particularly like the one here. (Dining room is open but it is self service 7-27-20)

Matsuharu–4886 Hercules Ave. (Japanese) Dinner only (Open Tue-Fri only).  All around excellent Japanese food, but I especially like the ramen, tempura udon, salmon teriyaki, and fish specials (the specials change in accordance with what can be flown in). (Takeout only & reviewers say right now they don’t have sushi 7-27-20)

Mi Piaci–5411 N. Mesa St. (Italian) Closed Sun. Upscale Italian with very good food, prepared properly. (Italian and Middle Eastern have traditionally been the two best ethnic foods in El Paso besides Mexican food). (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Peter’s German Grill–255 Shadow Mountain (German) Open 10 am to 8 pm (closed Sun).  The menu is small and it specializes in schnitzel and bratwurst. It also has very good German pastries and bread. My favorites of these are the Black Forest and the cranberry and walnut bread. (Takeout and delivery only 8-22-20)

Pho Tre Bien Express–3737 N. Mesa St. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Smaller menu than Saigon Taste but I think it is equally good. Pork chop is one of the best Asian dishes I have had in the city. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Red Lantern–1841 N. Zaragoza Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  A good proportion of their customers want authentic Cantonese food, so they tend to have more selection than other restaurants. Prices are reasonable also. (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Saigon Taste–6940 N. Mesa St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  This is one of El Paso’s very good authentic Asian restaurants. My favorite items include the banh xeo and the pork chop. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Santa Cecilia–5500 El Paso Dr. (Mexican) Open daily (dinner on Fri & Sat only). To me these are almost unbelievably good tacos al carbon (the ones that should be the pattern for all other restaurants). Located at the intersection of Paisano Dr. & El Paso Dr., just north of Alameda Ave. (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Su Casa–2030 E. Yandell Dr. (Mexican) Lunch only (closed Sun).  These are some of my favorite red enchiladas in town. Also available are several Middle Eastern items (my favorites are the spinach pie and tabouli). (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Sun Garden–6600 N. Mesa St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Authentic Cantonese food is available from the menu. I like the Szechuan pork and green beans and pork (neither of these are Cantonese but they are very good). You can special order some authentic Cantonese dishes such as tomato and scrambled egg. (Takeout only 6-14-21)

Tabla–115 S. Durango (Spanish) Closed Sun.  Tapas. (Temporarily closed 6-14-21)

Tara Thai–2606 N. Mesa St. (Thai) Closed Sun.  This is some of the best Thai food I have had anywhere in terms of flavor (I am very impressed with the way they do Thai food). There are some down sides, though–parking is terrible, the dinner menu is a little too expensive for me, and the lunch menu is a little limited (but the food here is really worth it if you want high quality Thai). Parking is particular bad when UTEP is in session. If parking becomes an issue a good alternative is Pho Tre Bien which is nearby and has some good Asian dishes.  (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Tasty Kabob–6110 N. Mesa St. (Persian) Closed Tue & closed Sun evening.  Very good ghormeh sabzi, and other items are good as well. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Viet–1700 N. Zaragoza Rd. (Vietnamese) Open Daily.  Very good Vietnamese food on the east side. The only problem is that you have to request mint with the vermicelli dishes (they will give it to you, but you have to know to ask for it). Still, though, the food is very good (just ask for it to be Vietnamese style and assume that otherwise it might be somewhat Americanized). (Dining room is open 7-27-20)

Villa del Mar–7988 Gateway Blvd. East (Mexican) Open Daily.  I think it’s the best in town for Mexican style seafood. (Dining room is open 6-18-20)

Zino’s–7040 N. Mesa St. (Greek) Closed Mon.  I have only gone once but it was one of my best experiences for Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern food in El Paso. (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

Fabens

Cattleman’s Steakhouse–Ranch Road 793 about 4 mi. north of IH-10 (Steakhouse) Dinner daily; lunch Sat & Sun.  Nationally famous destination restaurant. I think the steaks were not quite up to par for a while, but many people report that they are now as they were before. (Dining room is open 6-18-20)

Socorro

Sofia’s–11800 Glorietta Rd. (Mexican) Closed Mon.  The address of this restaurant is in San Elizario but it is actually located in Socorro. This is one of the few remaining “old time” Lower Valley restaurants with the traditional flavor I have loved since I have been here. Mexican plate is a good place to start. For enchiladas it goes against the general trend in El Paso in that the green enchiladas are best (at most restaurants it is the red). (Dining room is open 6-14-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

Sources:

Chowhound (El Paso)

Culture Trip (El Paso)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (El Paso)

Zomato (El Paso)

 

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