Tacos of each imaginable variety. Soups wealthy with tomatoes, chiles, and tomatillos. Maíz-targeted tortillas and street food. These are between the mouth watering Mexican food items specialties that await in the west Texas town of El Paso.
Acknowledged as the Mexican Foodstuff Money of America, El Paso has a great deal of attributes to back again up that declare: Not only is it the lone major town in the Lone Star Condition to be positioned instantly on the U.S./Mexico border, but El Paso sits just throughout the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, the premier town in the Mexican condition of Chihuahua (and arguably the birthplace of the margarita cocktail).
With a combined populace of far more than two million, the border towns of El Paso and Juarez have a thriving food scene that combines the cheesy/peppery flavors of Tex-Mex with the salsas, corn masa, and beans of regular Mexican cuisine.
From the stylish downtown eateries to the rapid-food stuff taco places to the community mainstays, I observed stellar Mexican delicacies in El Paso on my current stop by — which includes all the things from artistic corn dishes to pretty much each and every variety of taco identified to male.
Centered on my favorites and the recommendations of nearby professionals, listed here are 9 of the best Mexican specialties to try out in El Paso, and exactly where to find them.
1. Esquites (Road Corn) — ELEMI
Corn is a staple of Mexican delicacies, and the downtown cocina ELEMI plays that up by concentrating on the heirloom versions of native maíz (corn) from sustainable farming communities in Mexico. The cool minimal place located on El Paso’s Kansas Road cooks and grinds maíz day-to-day, “evoking techniques both previous and existing,” claims its web-site.
For a delectable sample of ELEMI’s native maíz, I beloved the esquites, a deconstructed edition of Mexican road corn that capabilities young tender Mexican corn imported weekly and cooked with common herbs, chiles, sweet cream butter, and garnished with lime aioli.
Professional Recommendations: ELEMI was highlighted on Padma Lakshmi’s Taste the Nation television present, which concentrated on the café’s El Campesino tacos, designed with confit portobello mushrooms, grilled eggplant, avocado, queso, and black beans in blue-corn tortillas.
The traditional elotes dish consisting of corn that is roasted on the cob and then slathered in mayonnaise-centered product sauce and covered in chili powder, cheese, and lime, can normally be located in avenue carts around the worldwide border in El Paso and Juarez.
2. Rooster Tortilla Soup — Mamacita’s
As a supporter of flavorful Mexican soups, I frequently get versions of caldo de camarón (shrimp/seafood soup) or hen tortilla soup when it is on a restaurant’s menu — specially through cold climate.
Even though the temperatures were being significantly from chilly when I visited El Paso in late June 2021, I was happy I took the assistance of the friendly server at Mamacita’s and requested the hen tortilla soup as a starter. The prosperous tomato-primarily based broth and plentiful chunks of rooster breast had been tasty, but the soup’s toppings of crispy tortilla strips, sliced tomatillos, radishes, and avocado seriously established the dish aside.
Pro Suggestion: Mamacita’s restaurant is found on the floor ground of the hip Lodge Indigo on Kansas Avenue in downtown El Paso. Along with conventional fare like the tortilla soup, its menu features a assortment of innovative Latin American-encouraged dishes, this kind of as road corn risotto croquettes, mushroom/goat cheese empanadas, and poblano mac n’ cheese.
3. Queso Fundido — Tacos Chinampa
Several dishes say Tex-Mex like melted cheese dip, and for El Paso-style queso fundido, locals head to Tacos Chinampa. A variation of the common queso dip, fundido is regarded to be a little bit extra flavorful, with chile peppers introducing additional zest.
The compact regional Tacos Chinampa chain has several spots all through El Paso, every single giving a full menu that features starters like the queso fundido, alongside with genuine tacos and Tex-Mex specialties like quesadillas, chiles rellenos, flautas (rolled tacos), and grilled fajitas.
Pro Suggestion: Like other regular El Paso/Juarez taquerias, Tacos Chinampa is identified for serving baked potatoes as a side dish with its tacos.
4. Brisket Machaca — Kiki’s Mexican Restaurant
Celeb chef and Food Community star, Aarón Sanchez, got his culinary start out cooking in El Paso, so when he terms a area dish the ideal at any time, foodies hear. KiKi’s Mexican Cafe appears frequently on lists of the greatest Mexican eating places in El Paso, with the beef machaca plate as the star.
The braised-beef dish was Sanchez’s selection on an episode of the Meals Community exhibit, Best Detail I At any time Ate. The specialty dish characteristics a combination of beef, onions, tomato, cheese, chile, and eggs — all smothered in chile con queso (chile with cheese).
5. Green Chile Hen Enchiladas — L&J Café
For an additional local most loved on the El Paso food stuff scene, head to the homey L&J Café for a array of Tex-Mex specialties like beef and hen fajitas, chile con queso, and steak tampiqueña (grilled steak served with green chiles, refried beans, and shredded cheese).
When I dined at L&J, my server recommended the environmentally friendly chile chicken enchiladas, which turned out to be a deliciously decadent dish showcasing stacked corn tortillas, roasted inexperienced chiles, and tender hen, all included in a eco-friendly chile sauce and melted cheese.
Pro Suggestion: Be expecting to wait in line to get seated at the super-popular L&J Café. On my Saturday afternoon check out in late June, I had a hold out of about 40 minutes. I utilised the time to explore the historic Concordia Cemetery — a Texas Condition Historic Internet site that is found just across the road. The cemetery is the resting place for hundreds of early west Texas residents — such as anyone from notorious 1800s-period gunslinger John Wesley Hardin to Buffalo Soldier veterans of the Indian and Spanish-American wars.
6. Barbacoa Tacos — Tacotote
Customarily created from cuts of beef cheek, barbacoa is a southwest Texas custom that is rooted in the farm and ranch culture. The beef is seasoned with daring Mexican spices ahead of staying sluggish cooked — occasionally in an in-ground pit or out of doors oven — and then shredded or chopped.
Tacotote, a regional chain of eating places in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest, originated in Juarez, just throughout the U.S./Mexico border from El Paso. According to its internet site, the chain’s foods is based mostly on household recipes passed down from the matriarch (Abuelita Dora) in Juarez. The initial United States cafe opened in 1994 in El Paso and the chain has because grown to 10 locations in Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Barbacoa is just one particular of the half-dozen meat alternatives available at Tacotote — generally served loved ones-style. Clients pick out from beef fajita, adobado (marinated) pork, adobado rooster, beef sirloin, brisket, and shrimp, which are served on platters for two or 4 together with sides, tortillas, and salsas.
Facet decisions assortment from baked potatoes to charro beans to refried beans to Mexican-style rice. Salsas arrive in a selection of regular kinds, like tatemada (charred chile), jalapeño, cambray (clean tomato and chile), roja (pink), and pico de gallo. Salsas at Tacotote are commonly offered at a effortless salsa bar.
7. Rolled Tacos — Chico’s Tacos
Rolled tacos, also identified as taquitos or flautas, are a specialty of many of the Mexican dining establishments and taco joints in El Paso. The moment once again, celeb chef Aarón Sanchez weighed in on the place to locate the most effective of the best.
Calling Chico’s Tacos “an institution” in El Paso, Sanchez claims the rolled tacos, filled with seasoned ground beef, deep fried, and then doused in a particular tomato-based mostly sauce, make for “the most messy superb dish you’ve ever had.”
8. Margaritas — Los Bandidos De Carlos & Mickey’s
Whilst the origin of the margarita cocktail is open up for discussion, a person of the well known theories is that the tequila-infused beverage was made by bartender Pancho Morales in Tommy’s Put Bar in Juarez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso.
These days, El Paso fans of the tart icy drink head to Los Bandidos de Carlos & Mickey’s for the hometown mainstay’s well-known “Texas-sized” cocktails. The informal cafe is also known for its relaxed Mexican delicacies options like quesadillas, chile con queso, and chiles rellenos.
9. Salsa — El Paso Downtown Artist & Farmers Marketplace
Fans of innovative salsas will discover a good deal to sample at the El Paso Downtown Artist & Farmers Market place in the Union Plaza.
If you are in the industry for anything entirely various, look at out the booth for Salsas Mi Alma, exactly where one particular of the specialties is the Gourmet Seed Salsa featuring a combination of crunchy almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, and sesame seeds preserved in a flavorful oil.
Salsas Mi Alma characteristics nine other freshly-created blends as effectively — various in spiciness from fiery very hot to moderate.
- If a casual lunch or night snack is in purchase, cease by the lovely small La Placita Café in the San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso. For a little something mild on a warm evening, I loved the cucumber sticks dusted with flavorful chili powder and the cucumber lemonade. The stand also features a selection of border tacos, very hot puppies, and sweet crispy churros.
- With its flourishing eating, arts, and historical past scenes, El Paso makes for a excellent place visit, or a quit on a nationwide park road journey. For thoughts on nearby sights, see 10 Fantastic Matters To Do In Historic El Paso, Texas, and for highway trip inspiration, see National Park Street Trip: 7 Ideal Stops From White Sands To Major Bend.