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Feb 24, 2012 07:25 PM

high-end Mexican in El Paso?

Michigan hound here. I'll be in El Paso for a few days next week and am willing to splurge on Mexican food. Good taquerías shouldn't be too hard to find, but I was wondering whether the city had a place with more unusual regional dishes of Mexico, or anything else out of the ordinary. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Hey Jim,

    Unfortunately there are no high end Mexican restaurants in EP, there was one but it is now closed. I would recommend Valentine's Kitchen which has some awesome pork belly and bone marrow tacos; they have other interesting items as well (lengua, barbacoa, colitas de pavo, tripas and buche.).

    If you are looking for some unusual regional dishes try Birrieria Jaramillo which specializes in Birria (mutton or lamb that is slow cooked in its own juices), a dish commonly eaten in the state of Jalisco; they also have tacos with lamb offal (brain, cheeks and eyes).

    Another interesting option is the Lucky Cafe where the pièce de résistance is the Menudo (soup with beef tripe and hominy). The version that they serve here has a red chile base which is the norm in the state of Chihuahua.

    If you are in the mood for burritos try Burritos Crisostomo (they make their own flour tortillas in house) but steer clear from the lengua; their Juarez locations are extremely popular, as well as the ones on this side of the border.

    If you are interested in trying a good torta (traditional Mexican sandwich) check out Rainbow Fountain which in my opinion has the best tortas in EP.

    On a final note, some of these places carry Mexican sodas made with real sugar (Coke, Sidral Mundet, Sprite, etc.) which are a must.

    If you have any additional questions let me know and I'll let you know of any other places that come to mind.

    9 Replies
    1. re: FoodFiendEP

      Thanks so much—these sound great. Some of these dishes are available in Detroit, but not consistently and probably not at their best.

      Anywhere else to suggest in Juarez if I decide to brave the warnings and walk over there?

      1. re: Jim M

        You will find some restaurants along Avenida Juarez after crossing the Santa Fe Bridge but avoid these and go straight to the Mercado Reforma (15 min walk approx.from bridge) which is right next to the Plaza de Armas right by the Cathedral; I haven't been here in a while so I couldn't tell you which stands to check out.

        On your way to the market make sure you make a stop at the Kentucky Club (it's a green building right on Avenida Juarez ) which is supposedly the place where the Margarita was invented and during Prohibition it was a very popular hang out for Hollywood celebs; try their carne seca with clamato.

        There are some really good restaurants in Juarez but you will need a car to get to them (Juarez is a very big city), you could get a cab once you cross the Santa Fe bridge but they are ridiculously expensive. There is this seafood place in Juarez called Los Arcos which is really good (their whole fried fish is amazing) and the cabbie will probably try to charge you over 20 bucks but you can certainly haggle down the price to under 10

        If you are interested in buying cheesy, touristy items you can get a cab to Mercado Juarez (they shouldn't charge you more than 5 bucks from the bridge to get here) which has some restaurants in the front but the food is pretty bad.

        You said you were looking for upscale Mexican so you could also take a cab to the Campestre neighborhood and eat at Maria Chuchena which is as upscale as Mexican cuisine gets in Juarez; they will definitely try to overcharge you to get here, 10 bucks each way is a fair rate.

        Although Juarez is not the war zone that is depicted in TV and drug related violence has gone significantly down you still need to be cautious, so like in any other big city be aware of your surroundings, do not go off into empty side streets and travel by day. Just use your common sense and you should be OK; I know you are from Detroit but Juarez is a whole different animal. You'll find the locals to be very friendly and most of them speak English.

        Enjoy your time in EP!

        1. re: FoodFiendEP

          Thanks again. Puedo hablar español. I'm going to chance it.

          1. re: Jim M

            ¡ Pues suerte amigo! Ahí me platicas como te fue. Y si necesitas alguna otra cosa me avisas.

            I almost forgot:

            Los Arcos:Paseo triunfo de la republica No. 2220Col. Partido Romero

            Maria Chuchena: Blvd.Tomas Fernandez 7818-1

            1. re: FoodFiendEP

              Were you referring to Maria Chuchena when you mentioned an upscale restaurant in EP that had closed? I was never a fan.
              JIm- I will do just about anything for a great meal but going to Juarez is not one of them. With the restaurants moving up from Mexico, stay in EP- you will have plenty of choices!!!

              1. re: carfreeinla

                I was indeed. I was not a fan of the one in EP but the one in Juarez is waaaaay better, did you ever try the one over there?

                As for the restaurants that have moved over to EP from Juarez... well most of them do not compare to the originals; Garufa and Crisostomo are the exception.

                He should be fine going into Juarez as long as he is careful.

                1. re: FoodFiendEP

                  LOL- the mother in me worries...
                  No, have not tried the Juarez outposts of any of these places- quit crossing the border a few years ago ( but you shouldn't be surprised!)... I am actually coming into town tonight and thinking about the Carnitas Queretero barbacoa in my future...

                    1. re: FoodFiendEP

                      Unfortunately lunch at Avilas... better than it has been but still not as good as it was...

    2. So how was your trip? What places did you end up going to?

      4 Replies
      1. re: FoodFiendEP

        I had a delightful time in EP and followed several of your recommendations! As with Middle Eastern in metro Detroit, I found it impossible to get a bad meal. Made it to Valentine's Kitchen on my last night and had bone marrow, pork belly, and barbacoa tacos; was delighted not only by the food but by the presentation too, especially for a place that's basically a lunch counter. A real gem that I would never have found on my own. Burritos Cristósomo was worth it for the fresh quesadilla, which was like a French crepe; I had it filled with chicken mole. Very tasty. Lucky Kitchen (for those reading this thread, Spanish is required at this place but not at the others) said I would have to come earlier for menudo or caldo de res, but I had tacos deshebrados and they were in every respect—meat, cheese, shell—a cut above the ones here. Went to Rainbow Fountain and especially liked the licuado; the carnitas torta was good, but this dish is done equally well by one place in Detroit. Went out to breakfast at La Malinche, and the waitress tried to marry me off. I was delayed getting back from Hueco Tanks State Park (worth it in itself) and thus could not get to Ciudad Juárez during daylight, so decided to forgo it; I was eating well on the U.S. side. Great place to get away from March in the Midwest for a few days!

        1. re: Jim M

          Whew! I was worried when we hadn't heard from you!!! Glad you had such a positive experience- come back soon...

          1. re: Jim M

            I am so glad that you enjoyed your time in EP!! It's just too bad that you did not get to try the menudo at Lucky.

            1. re: Jim M

              I flew in to ELP last night, and headed staright to Burritos Cristósomo. I picked this over Valentine's because it seemed like I could get in and out quicker, and i was pretty tired.
              I had the pork in red sauce, barbacoa, and steak. All were excellent. I was very full!
              Hoping to try some of these other recommendations before I head back to Detroit (but I'll be wit work colleagues, so it might not be possible).