Steve’s Best Food Experiences of 2023

I think it is worthwhile to publish a year-end summary of a few of my favorite restaurants as well as making some personal comments (as if reading my opinions in the restaurant reviews is not enough). Through the vicissitudes of life I have found myself having difficulty typing because of Parkinson’s Disease. I do not know if or when I will be able to publish updated reviews for all the restaurants I have visited, but I can start with this summary of a few of them.

I shamelessly borrowed the format for this article from Gil’s Thrilling and Filling Blog to include about one restaurant a month–probably enough to include most of the best ones. This year’s list is from El Paso, Texas and the surrounding area.

January 2023

Best of 2023

Porterhouse at West Texas Chophouse

My first visit to West Texas Chophouse gave me one of the bet steak experiences I have had in years from the New York Strip portion of a Porterhouse steak. Along with good sides, good service, and a clean and modern atmosphere, this was an obvious choice for the best restaurant list.

West Texas Chophouse
1317 George Dieter Dr., El Paso, TX


February 2023

Best of 2023

Filete a la diabla from the special Lent menu at Delicias Cafe

February was the beginning of Lent season, and my first Lent meal of the year treated me to possibly the best Filete a la Diabla I have ever eaten courtesy of Delicias Cafe. It was not so spicy I had to ask for extra iced tea, but the spice level made me happy. The flavor was even more noteworthy, including the fish that followed recent trends in the Borderland of being “fishy” in a good way.

Delicias Cafe
865 N. Resler Dr., El Paso, TX


March 2023

Best of 2023

Fish with lemon and gravy from the special Lent menu at San Isidro

It is difficult to pick a favorite Lent dinner in this season, and I think several of them could be called the best, but I might give the award for creativity to San Isidro Mission Cafe for its dish Fish with Lemon and Gravy. I did not really taste the lemon but it probably had an integral part of the gravy being so good. This restaurant always seems to come up with something different for the Lent specials.

San Isidro Mission Cafe
1071 Country Club Rd., El Paso, TX


April 2023

Best of 2023

Chicken fried steak at Luby’s

It was bittersweet to have my last meal at the Luby’s Cafeteria on Mesa Street before it closed for good. I can’t remember the last time I had ordered the Chicken Fried Steak here, but it was about as good as any I have eaten.

Luby’s Cafeteria
3601 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX (now closed)


May 2023

Best of 2023

Red enchiladas at La Nueva Casita

I know that Red Enchiladas are not gourmet, but when I find a very good one I consider it to be a special treat. Such was the case at La Nueva Casita in Las Cruces. This is a very good version of the New Mexico style of the dish. The heat level is high but not off the charts.

La Nueva Casita
195 N. Mesquite St., Las Cruces, NM


June 2023

Best of 2023

Chihuahua combo at Carlos & Mickey’s

After a long absence I returned to Carlos & Mickey’s main restaurant and found the Chihuahua Combo Meal to be one of the best combination plates in the city. I wanted to come back here because I learned that the original owner of this restaurant also opened Pancho’s Mexican Buffet (the original one was in El Paso) and that both used the same recipes. The food at Carlos & Mickey’s provided the desired nostalgia, but I think is much better than the food I remember at any of the Pancho’s franchises.

Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s
1310 Magruder St., El Paso, TX


July 2023

Best of 2023

Plato mexicano at Carnitas Queretaro

One special meal I had this year was the Plato Mexicano at Carnitas Queretaro. The red chile was solid and the chile relleno was good, but I think the taco de carnitas they serve is much better than most of the city’s other tacos. Another special feature of this meal was that I was craving fruit so the waiter served me some oranges and strawberries from the bar (I didn’t think they could give me the fruit but I am a fairly regular customer and it never hurts to ask).

Carnitas Queretaro
7410 Remcon Cir., El Paso, TX


August 2023

Best of 2023

Enchiladas montadas at Ay Caramba

One of my favorite breakfast items is Enchiladas Montadas (enchiladas with an egg on top) and one of the best is at Ay Caramba on El Paso’s west side. The red enchiladas have an excellent flavor and are spicy enough that it catches your attention.

Ay Caramba
8001 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX


September 2023

Best of 2023

Carne asada at Thyme Matters

I cannot stray too far from Mexican food most of the time, even if it is ordering an  item at a mostly American and Mediterranean restaurant such as Thyme Matters. In this case I really enjoyed the Carne Asada Oaxaquena which was a small steak grilled in adobo and served with poblano chile con queso. The meat, seasonings, and price were all good.

Thyme Matters
5857 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX


October 2023

Best of 2023

Green chile cheeseburger at Dave’s Cafe

On a trip to Cloudcroft I was able to try a very good version of the Green Chile Cheeseburger at Dave’s Cafe. In fact, I think this is a very appropriate entry on my ” Best Experience” list. El Paso has some very good gcc but the best ones in New Mexico, including this one, are at a higher level than I have found in Texas.

Dave’s Cafe
300 Burro St., Cloudcroft, NM


November 2023

Best of 2023

Chili chicken vermicelli at Pho Tre Bien

I have become a big fan of the new Pho Tre Bien restaurant at Cimarron Market off of North Resler Drive. So far my favorite dish is the Lemongrass Chili Chicken Vermicelli, which I have found to be the best in the city out of the ones I have tried.

Pho Tre Bien – Noodle Bar
7456 Cimarron Market Ave., El Paso, TX


December 2023

Best of 2023

Lunch portion of almond chicken at Sun Garden

I caught some kind of a wicked bug in December, and my favorite food of the month turned out to be one of my frequent comfort foods, the Almond Chicken from Sun Garden. I think the white sauce (garlic sauce) they use is probably the best in town, and I like the flavor combination of the almond chicken.

Sun Garden
6600 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX


One thought on “Steve’s Best Food Experiences of 2023

  1. Once again, Steve, you’ve selected a number of intriguing “best food experiences.” I’m especially intrigued by the Lenten offerings, especially the Filete a la Diabla. It always amazes me that there aren’t more “James Beard” nominated restaurants in El Paso. Your fair city’s restaurants certainly seem worthy.

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