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El Paso - hidden gems? hole in the walls? must haves? anything healthy?

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I'll be in El Paso for a week on business and would love to try local favorites.

I'm coming from Los Angeles, so Mexican food isn't exactly a need, but if it's done well, it's done well and my belly will be happy. I love a good taco and if there are any local specialities, I'd be definitely game.

If there are good BBQ joints, I'm all ears. And, if there are any spots that serve organic anything (veggies, fruit, meats), I'm equally interested.

On my radar (but not attached at all):
L&J Cafe
Tom's Folk Cafe
Texas Roadhouse
Rudy's Country Store or Famous Dave's (for BBQ)
(Thoughts on State Line Restaurant??)
Is H&H Car Wash still a 'hound must?
Julio's Cafe Corona
Magic Pan
Chico's Tacos
Ripe Eatery

I'm staying near the airport and will have a car. Extra thanks for any must have dishes (or things to stay away from).

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I used to go to Julio's when it was in Juarez and particularly remember the refried beans and cabrito, they were great. Cattleman's is a fun place to go if you like huge steaks!

    1. Chico's Tacos is a waste of time and will likely make you feel bad so if you are traveling, not a great choice. Kiki's for Tex-Mex is good (as featured on Food Network). It's near the military base, not far from the airport.

      What is unknown and outstanding in some respects is a hotel restaurant near the airport. It's a favorite breakfast spot for locals. They have a breakfast buffet complete with menudo, but I always order the cheese enchiladas with red sauce. Best ever. You'll just have to trust me on this. It's on Montana.


      Oh, and if you are hungry for some good steak, drive the thirty minutes (nice drive) out to Cattleman's for dinner. Another locals favorite.


      1. I just got back last week from my trip to El Paso and pulled up your post again. I ate at L & J Cafe and it was excellent, a very pleasant, fun, and flavorful experience. I enjoyed their chile con queso which was vaguely reminiscent of the queso at the old Florida club in Juarez circa 1965. I also ate at H & H, and, as usual, found it to be delicious!!! (juevos rancheros are stellar) But here is one must try place and one ought to try place for you. You MUST try the Chicken Marsala at Pasta Avanti. See my review just posted for further information. the ought to try is Dona Lupe on the east side across the street from what is now a police station but was always Sears when I was growing up. I had the green chile con carne with 2 eggs over medium (fyi they overcooked my eggs slightly), rice and beans which was very good. The others had eggs machada (I'm sure I spelled that wrong) which consisted of two eggs cooked to order over flat enchiladas. It was probably better than mine. The place is nice, the service is excellent, the chef is probably the owner's mom! (or the owner herself). I'd put both of these places on my list for sure, but I'd go to Pasta Avanti when it opens at 12 this Sunday, go early and you can probably make it back for dinner!

        1 Reply
        1. re: edberliner

          Thanks for updating!!

          If I ever have to go back - L & J, H & H, and Pasta Avanti are on my 'must try' list.

          On my trip, I didn't have as much flexibility as I thought I would (in choosing dining location)... perhaps next time!

        2. Update:

          I had a phenomenal meal at Ripe Eatery. Definitely worth the drive from downtown El Paso (about 20 minutes north). I had the best salad (poached pears/goat cheese) with added steak. I also splurged on a cherry galette and it was amazing! Best meal of the trip.

          Toros Burger Bar - great burgers close to the airport! Definitely worth a visit.

          Other (to miss!) eats while in town:
          -State Line (BBQ) - The only 'good' thing about this place is you get to visit another state. The food is NOT good. I had their pork ribs & beef ribs ... neither were good. Dry and not work the time to eat! Sides were blah as well. SKIP IT!

          -Also visited a couple Mexican joints - Dominguez and Leo's. At Dominguez I had chicken enchiladas and Leo's Carnitas. Between the two, Dominguez was more enjoyable. At Leo's - the carnitas were hockey pucks - the hardest chunk of pork I've ever tried to consume. The sopapillas for dessert were delicious!

          In salad bar category:
          - a visit to Souper Salad delivered a passable but welcome offering of misc. salad bar and prepared salad options. I couldn't believe how cheap it was (out the door for under $6)! I'd definitely go back here for a quick take-out salad in a pinch.

          -Cattle Baron Steak & Seafood salad bar made me wish for Souper Salad! I was unimpressed by their salad bar offerings (especially after hearing how awesome the salad bar was!). Made me wish I ordered off menu.

          1. I was introduced to The Hoppy Monk, a "Gastropub" on my last trip to El Paso.
            It is well worth the visit ! The Beer List is the best I've seen and the food was wonderful! The Rabbit Tacos paired well!!


            1. Next time your back go to Cattlemans(best steak in the west for the price), Chopes(best chile rellenos in the world), Cafe Italia((suprisingly authentic Napolitano pizza(order uncut)), as for BBQ...Rudys may be a chain but Texas brisket is the best and they do it well(Dont waste your time anywhere else or ordering anything but the moist end), Delicias has really good menudo, Carnitas does a good red pork posole, Chubbys has the best NY style sandwiches in town((i like cold sandwiches so i recommend the Don Corleone((capicola and roasted red pepper), Pho Tes Bien has great Banh Mis, Since youre into H and H you absolutely have to go to the original lucys and order the machaca, Im pro Chicos for life, Papa burger is everything you want in a classic cheeseburger, Toro burger can stand toe to toe with any upscale casual burger, that restaurant inside la quinta on Montana is a gem for hungover EP eastsiders(kudos to lambowner for reminding me), Ripe,Crave, The Garden, G2, and Tom's are doing the upscale casual thing in EP but honestly nothing you cant get better in countless other cities, The Tap as best best chile verde burrito in the world as well as some amazing nachos, Cristosomos has good burritos too. this is going to sound CRAZY to most natives but one of my favorite things to eat here are chile relleno burritos from Taco Cabana(they are only good in EP i swear) with a concoction of half queso half salsa fuego as a dip. If you do anything on this list do that(trust me I'm a chef)haha. cheers!