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.
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 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.
865 N. Resler Dr., El Paso, TX
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
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.
3601 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX (now closed)
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
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
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).
7410 Remcon Cir., El Paso, TX
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.
8001 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX
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.
5857 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX
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.
300 Burro St., Cloudcroft, NM
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
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.
6600 N. Mesa St., El Paso, TX