Steak - Cattleman's @ Indian Cliffs Ranch (Worth the trip EVERY time)
BBQ - Smittys
Fastest Fading Star - State Line Barbecue (Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen)
Mexican BBQ - Carnitas Quetero
Mexican Seafood - Puerta Vallarta
Middle Eastern - Al Zaituna
Always Perfect - The Greenery
Chinese - Paco Wong
Italian - Monteleones (ALL the others will break your heart or truly ammuse you and not in a good way)
Bakery / Cafe - International Bakery
BEST OF THE BEST - CAFE CENTRAL
Hot Dogs NONE
I always head to Cattleman's at the Indian Wells Ranch. The food is great. However, walking around the ranch is equally interesting with the various animals and the the occasional pack of coyotes that you'll see in the desert.
What would be as interessting is a list of the great restaurants across the border in Cuidad Juarez.
I ate there on 12/11/2006, a Monday night. First of all, they are not associated with the chain of the same name. That's good news. Plan on a half-hour drive east of El Paso on I-10, turn north at Fabens. I had a 14 oz ribeye, Medium Rare. It was well seasoned (a bit salty to my taste) and was properly cooked. I would say that it was among the top 5% of steaks that I've had -- very good, but not quite prime. Definitely worth the price.
This is a family style restaurant. Everything arrives at the same time. If you are hungry, ask for your bread immediately. All steaks come with cole slaw (pineapple flavored, good as a desert), and chili beans, (like Denison's Hot canned, but good), and a choice of rice or baked potato. I had the latter. They give you enough butter and sour cream for 3 baked potatoes.
The wine list is the shortest I've ever seen. I had the Texas Merlot, a bit pricey at $4.35/glass. Not bad, though. The alternative was Sebastiani at $4.85/glass.
Prices are reasonable. You will be full when you leave! I would certainly go back, but Cattleman's is not a destination for me.
You are correct ... Smitty's brisket can be sub par an hour after 12 noon or past 6pm. They do not stagger their smoking and if you miss it fresh from the oven it makes a HUGE difference. I mentioned in the hopes of prompting "State Line" to get their s*** together as once they were the standard and now they are just plain sad.
The good news is that "Ardovinos Desert Crossing" is a revelation for Italian Food in El Paso (It is in Sunland Park, NM). Not only romantic, cozy and beautiful, the food is poetic. The wild mushroom lasagna was haunting, as were the meatballs. My one complaint is that their stuffed artichoke hearts is made with canned artichokes which leads me to ask "why bother"? Otherwise the entire experience was lovely! I also would add "Carnitas Quetero" as a don't miss for Mexican Barbecue.
The H & H Car Wash has been one of my longtime favorites on trips through El Paso. In fact, made a several thousand mile detour for breakfast earlier this year and will do it again. Chiles rellenos con salsa verde (not on the menu) is a standout breakfast for Mexican food lovers. Perfection on a plate.