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Jun 13, 2014 11:46 AM

El Paso, ABQ recs for Mexican as it's known in those areas

Hi from an Austin Hound! I'm going to be passing through El Paso and ABQ in August and was looking for lunch and early dinner recs.

For El Paso, I'm looking for real, El Paso style Mexican food. I hear about it all the time here in Austin but I don't think I've ever had it. The place that keeps popping up in my searches is L&J cafe. Is it the real deal or is this more of a "Food Network" type of stop? I don't do that kind of place as not one has ever lived up to the hype of their PR machines.

For ABQ, I'm looking for "green chile" New Mexico style food. I feel like I read about New Mexican style food a lot but I'm not sure I'm clear on what it is. I do love hatch season here in Austin when we get the tons of chiles from Hatch. Recs for places that serve the best of this style are greatly welcomed.

I'm not picky about hole in the wall, fancy, fast-casual, whatever, just looking for the absolute best food. Thanks!

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  1. Well, you're headed to some great eats.

    I've never though L&J was all that and a bowl of fritos, but it has it's loyalists.

    Personally, I hit Julio's on I-10 near the airport as often as I can. My favorites are:
    Tlalpe├▒o Soup
    Chile Relleno (as you know, this is what I keep lamenting in Austin)
    Machaca with Egg
    Cajeta Crepes with the brandy fambe'

    After that it's the H&H Carwash on Yandell. I know. A carwash?! Is she nuts? No. Seriously a killer chile relleno.

    Get a Blake's green chile Lottaburger when in NM. This is a genuine Hatch Chile burger. They are only in NM and the owner of the franchises won't let them go outside of the state. Your first chance for on will be in Las Cruces.

    Another shouldn't miss place is La Posta in Mesilla (basically in Las Cruces). There you should get a traditional red and green enchilada. Chips and sauce (should have the Hatch chile salsa now) are unique to that area as well.


    1 Reply
    1. re: amysuehere

      I didn't even have to leave the Austin board if I didn't want to :) Thanks for the recs, I can't wait to try them!

    2. I think if you come to New Mexico expecting the food to be like Mexican, you might be disappointed. New Mexican food is even further away from Mexico-Mexican than Tex-Mex. It's a lot simpler, starchier and cheesier, -- homey basic comfort food with lots of chile on it, that you'll probably enjoy a lot more if you're not expecting all the vibrant fresh flavors of real Mexican.

      In Albuquerque, I think one of the best places for New Mexican food, and red chile in particular, is Mary & Tito's. If you want green chile specifically, you might do better at Duran's or Garcia's, and maybe Barelas Coffee House. Most NM places here close pretty early, even as early as 6PM, so be sure to check closing times if you plan on having dinner somewhere.

      As for green chile cheeseburgers, people swear by the fast food version at Blake's Lottaburger that amysuehere mentions, but IMO the more restaurant-style GCCBs at Q-Burger, B2B Bistronomy and ABQ Brew Pub are better. They just don't have the cult following.

      Some other nice things to try while you're here might be the posole with carne adovada and sopapillas at Richard's (open for breakfast and lunch only), the green chile chocolate truffles at Chocolate Cartel, and/or a piece of caramel apple green chile pie at the New Mexico Pie Company.

      Hope you have a great trip.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ninrn

        We are specifically looking for New Mexican style food so these are great recs.

        1. re: foodiegal71

          Didn't mean to sound like I was discouraging you. We've just had several people report back after trips here saying how appalled they were at the poor quality Mexican food in New Mexico, and then everybody tells them it wasn't Mexican, it was New Mexican, etc, etc.

      2. Its very, very rare for me to find a New Mexican restaurant, especially in the southern half of the state where I am, that makes their food from scratch. So many of them buy canned green chile, frozen rellenos, etc. So as was just said, it really is just home cooking at someone else's restaurant.