If you grew up in El Paso, there’s a pretty good chance that you were raised on bowls of menudo, some cheesy machaca or rolled tacos drowned in red sauce. And if you’ve moved away or you’re just away for the weekend, you more than likely end up craving one of these El Chuco spots. Here are 11 must-eat joints that shout, El Paso!
Must try: Sirloin Tacos With A Papa. Everyone has done it. Step off a Southwest flight, ignore text from family or friends and head to the nearest Taco Tote for a pound of sirloin, a baked potato and more than your share of salsa. Thank Sweet Holy Moses the salsa’s self-serve and they stock it plenty.
Must try: Chorizo. It’s OK to have soyrizo once in a while; we won’t judge. But you know huevos con chorizo doesn’t have the same gut-bomb glory if the chorizo isn’t from this market just seconds from the downtown bridge. Spicy, salty and oozing with just the right amount of grease is what you get with every bite.
Must try: Double With Fries. To anyone other than an El Pasoan, rolled tacos with mystery meat, shredded cheese and watery red sauce is nothing to crave. But for those native to El Chuco, this is the place for first dates, late-night munchies and to meet friends the first night home.
Must try:Margaritas & Machaca & Queso. Of course, you miss a place where every hour is happy hour so this double-your-pleasure Mesa mainstay stays on top of everyone’s sentimental list. The drill is always the same. Grab a seat at Lucy’s, order the freshest margarita this side of the border from X — the dive conveniently located next door — and chase it with the cheesy machaca plate and a side of chile con queso. Then order another margarita.
Must try: Green Enchiladas, Caldo and Gorditas. The green enchiladas are better than your mother’s. The caldo competes with your abuela’s and the gorditas rival your nana’s. Those are always three good reasons to exit Copia before heading home.
Must try: Huevos Rancheros y Chile Rellenos. Getting back to El Paso by car means driving through desert-like conditions so getting a car wash should be a priority, but it’s really an excuse to get amazing huevos rancheros or chile rellenos as soon as you hit town. It’s authentic food that stretches back generations.
Must try: Subs, Pizza and Spaghetti. You may be coming back to El Chuco after having fancy pizza in San Francisco or New York but nothing will ever satisfy you like a thick crust pie from the joint on Piedras. The massive subs and the “Old Man Italian” spaghetti ain’t Pizzeria Mozza-worthy but they’re home to you.
Must try: Green Chicken Tamales. Everyone has tamales at Christmas but Pepe’s tamales in El Paso are always right and your family knows to stock the fridge with the green chicken variety. And why Pepe’s? Simple, they know how to do tamales right. They don’t go too heavy on the masa and skimp out on the meat. They strike the perfect balance.
Must try: Anything on The Menu. Only El Pasoans can appreciate without any fuss The Lunch Box’s sign with two sleeping beans wearing sombreros. But what they truly appreciate is the restaurant’s command of authentic Mexican food. There’s nothing on the menu that doesn’t say, “I’m home.”
Must try: The Monster and The Heart Breaker. It’s an East El Paso institution where Eastsiders get their burger fix after school. What you crave: the Monster with its 3 patties and 3 cheese slices. What you really crave: the Heart Breaker with its 4 patties and 4 cheese slices.
Absolutely no one does menudo like El Paso joints. Anywhere else and folks feel the need to add something or take something else away. And that wrecks the beautiful balance of tripe, hominy and broth you grew up slurping con gusto. So it’s no wonder when you are in town, you head out with your mother’s olla to bring back Saturday breakfast.
Go ahead, check your miles to see when you can go home again. There’s plenty of good food waiting for you.
Most Latina moms are legendary for their food. They pride themselves on using traditional recipes with authentic spices, so why would we ever in a million years question their methods especially because it tastes so good? Doubting the cooking of any Latina mom will undoubtedly get you slapped and rightly so. However, after seeing this Facebook post, we most certainly will have a sit down with our mom and inform her about this travesty in Latino cooking.
Adina Monet, a foodie on Facebook, told the world some shocking news about Goya Foods, Sazon seasoning. She said it has an ingredient called MSG.
According to Google research, MSG (Monosodium glutamate) “is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids.” It’s also found “naturally in tomatoes, grapes, cheese, mushrooms, and other foods,” but it can also be harmful.
Monet writes, “Monosodium Glutamate is the main ingredient in Sazon spices. It interrupts the intricate system that our bodies have set to properly function. Monosodium glutamate or better known as MSG is a chemical synthesized in a lab by scientists who most likely synthesized the chemical makeup of your favorite perfume. This chemical makes it difficult for the brain to receive messages from the hormone leptin that signals the body when it has had enough energy from food. Therefore, consuming MSG will prevent feeling full and therefore cause excess storage of fat.”
MSG is also used to enhance the flavor of foods, especially Asian and Hispanic dishes. Many restaurants use this flavoring, though some do let patrons know that they include it.
According to the FDA, MSG is technically “safe” to consume.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that MSG is “generally recognized as safe. The watchdog group requires that foods containing added MSG list it on the ingredient panel as monosodium glutamate. If MSG is found naturally in some of the ingredients (hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, and protein isolate), the manufacturer does not have to list MSG on the label. That said, these foods can’t say ‘No MSG’ or ‘No added MSG’ on their packaging. MSG also cannot be listed as generic spices and flavoring.
The Sazon packaging doesn’t say anything about MSG on the front. People have to read the ingredients to see that it is clearly there. Here are some possible symptoms of MSG:
Facial pressure or tightness.
Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas.
Food is the thing that brings people together. Whether or not you agree with someone’s politics or world view, you can usually agree with them on one thing: That food is delicious, and eating delicious food will make all of us happy. And for anyone that’s been living under a rock, you should probably know that Latin food has become increasingly popular in the U.S., whether or not you are Latinx yourself. Whether it’s Cuban food, Mexican food, Peruvian food, and so much more, there are restaurants opening up all across the country that make me proud to be Latina.
And where there’s a great Latin food restaurant, there is a phenomenal Latinx chef behind it. And in fact, some Latinx chefs have more than one while others are actually teaching and spreading our love of Latin food in other ways (such as through the writing of cookbooks or their work on television). From Food Network favorite Aarón Sánchez to PBD darling Pati Jinich, here are the 25 best latinx chefs cooking up and serving great food all across the U.S. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and dig into all of that incredible sabor!
1. José Andrés
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefjoseandres/Instagram
Okay, so José Andrés is technically from Spain and began his career there, but the Spanish-American chef is a great philanthropist (he helped feed hundreds in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria) with restaurants in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He offers creative small plates dining, and has been known for his humanitarian work long before the Hurricane Maria disaster last year.
2. Maricel Presilla
CREDIT: PHOTO: maricelpresilla7/Instagram
Maricel Presilla has quite the resume: She was the first Latin American woman to be invited as a guest chef at the White House, has a James Beard Foundation Award from 2012, and wrote the amazing book Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America (published in 2013, and also won a Janes Beard Foundation Award). Beyond that, she is the chef and co-owner behind Cucharamama and other restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey, along with Ultramarinos, her Latin American marketplace, bakery and chocolate shop.
3. Aarón Sánchez
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_aaronsanchez/Instagram
Aarón Sánchez is an American chef and television personality who can often be seen as a co-star and judge on Food Network’s Chopped, as the host of Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip, and he has appeared on Iron Chef America and as a contestant on The Next Iron Chef. He’s also a judge on Masterchef as of 2017. Oh, and did I mention that he has restaurants all over the U.S., including Johnny Sánchez, which has locations in New Orleans and Baltimore.
4. Lorena Garcia
CREDIT: PHOTO: cheflorena/Instagram
Lorena Garcia is a Venezuelan chef who has several restaurants and is now famous thanks to her multiple television shows and appearances. She’s been on Top Chef Masters, has a cookbook, and a line of kitchenware… She is also seriously making strides in her life to help end the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
5. Jose Garces
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefjosegarces/Instagram
Jose Garces, an Ecuadorian-American chef, is a restaurant owner and is probably best known for being an Iron Chef, an honor he earned in 2009 and debuted in 2010. His restaurants include eight in Philadelphia, including Amada, Rosa Blanca, Volver, and more. He also owns restaurants in Atlantic City, Scottsdale, Arizona, California, and more. He was named Best Chef by James Beard Foundation.
6. Marcela Valladolid
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmarcela/Instagram
You’ve probably seen Marcela Valladolid’s cookbooks, amazing Instagram, or as one of the co-hosts on Food Network’s The Kitchen (though she left the show in October 2017). She’s worked in many capacities, including as an editor and recipe stylist at Bon Appétit, a judge on Food Network’s Best Baker in America, the CBS reality show The American Baking Competition, and more.
7. Angelo Sosa
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefangelososa/Instagram
The Dominican-Italian chef first made national headlines when he appeared on Top Chef, but his career has gone on to great heights since then. He is currently the owner of Añejo Tequileria in New York City, a restaurant that serves unique tequilas and takes on traditional Mexican food. He also released a cookbook with Angie Martinez titled Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed.
8. Ingrid Hoffmann
CREDIT: PHOTO: ingridhoffmannofficial/Instagram
Ingrid Hoffman is a Colombian-American chef, restauranteur, and television personality who hosts Food Network’s Simply Delicious and the Spanish-language Delicious on Galavisión. She’s also got several cookbooks out on Latin cooking, including Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist.
9. Roberto Santibañez
CREDIT: PHOTO: fondanyc/Instagram
The acclaimed Mexican chef has brought fine Mexican dining to New York City, and the world thanks Roberto Santibañez for this accomplishment. He’s a native of Mexico City but currently owns the Fonda restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He also has several cookbooks, including Tacos, Tortas and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Street-Side Kitchens of Mexico.
10. Pati Jinich
CREDIT: PHOTO: patijinich/Instagram
Pati Jinich, an award-winning Mexican chef, TV personality, and cookbook author, is best known for her James Beard Foundation Award-winning and Emmy-nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table. She has a cookbook by the same name, which was published in 2013, and a follow-up called Mexican Today, which was published in 2016.
11. Enrique Olvera
CREDIT: PHOTO: enriqueolveraf/Instagram
If you’ve ever wanted to eat in one of the world’s best restaurants, then head to Pujol — which stands at Number 20 on the list and is Enrique Olvera’s place in Mexico City. However, he’s a celebrity chef to watch as he sets to open a Pujol-Cosme (one of his other restaurants) hybrid in Los Angeles. Although the menu is still in development, it is sure to be… well, one of the best.
12. Michelle Bernstein
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmichy/Instagram
The Argentine-American chef from Miami is a master of Latin cooking, and a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef herself. She has several restaurants in Miami, including Seagrape at the Thompson hotel in Miami Beach. She has also appeared on Iron Chef America and on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode on Miami.
13. José Mendín
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmendin/Instagram
José Mendín of Pubbelly Restaurant group in Miami, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic is a rising star in the culinary world. Although he’s yet to win a James Beard Foundation Award, he was a five-time semifinalist for Best Chef, Southeast. It’s only a matter of time, really.
14. Alejandra Ramos
CREDIT: PHOTO: alwaysalejandra/Instagram
Food and lifestyle expert and television personality Alejandra Ramos is an on-camera host and a Today Show tastemaker who is dedicated to helping people make room for a delicious life. You’ve probably seen her cooking up her delicious, Latin-inspired (and sometimes now) recipes on TV, and we are sure to see more from the Puerto Rican chef.
15. Julian Medina
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefmedinanyc/Instagram
Julian Medina was born in Mexico city and was inspired by his father’s and grandfather’s authentic home cooking to become a chef himself. After training professionally, he eventually opened Toloache, Yerba Buena, and Yerba Buena Perry in New York City. Each restaurant presents refined Mexican cuisine and a Nuevo Latino-inspired take on Latin food.
16. Susie Jimenez
CREDIT: PHOTO: spiceitupsusie/Instagram
Susie Jimenez rose to fame after appearing on Food Network’s 7th season of Next Food Network Star. She is the owner of Spice It Up Catering, hosts several radio and television shows in Aspen, Colorado, and appears regularly as a culinary expert.
17. Ricardo Zarate
CREDIT: PHOTO: ricardomzarate/Instagram
Ricardo Zarate, who was born in Lima, Peru, is known as “the godfather of Peruvian cuisine” and for a good reason. His name is synonymous with indigenous South American cuisine, and he his passion and drive have led him to spread Peruvian cuisine in Los Angeles… to the delight of many.
18. Diana Dávila
CREDIT: PHOTO: dianalachef/Instagram
Chicago-based chef Diana Dávila has served as a chef at several places (including a few in Washington, D.C.) before opening up her own place last year, Mi Tocaya Antojeria. She describes herself as a midwest Mexican, and her cuisine follows. She approaches it with the history of Mexican cuisine with unique touches of her own.
19. Ray Garcia
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefraygarcia/Instagram
Ray Garcia is a Los Angeles-based chef who grew up having a lot of Sunday dinners at his abuela’s house. And, as he puts it, “I didn’t choose food, it chose me.” He learned a restrained technique with a deep respect for the integrity of his ingredients, and used his culinary talents at Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria.
20. Daniela Soto-Innes
CREDIT: PHOTO: danielasotoinnes/Instagram
Two years ago, at just 25 years old, Daniela Soto-Innes won the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, a huge honor for such a young chef. She was the chef de cuisine at Cosme, a Mexican-inspired restaurant from another person on our list (Enrique Olvera).
21. Hugo Ortega
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_hugo65/Instagram
Mexican City-bown Hugo Ortega is now the chef and co-owner at some of Houston’s top restaurants: Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Caracol, and Xochi. He is also the recent winner of a James Beard Foundation Award and was a finalist for six consecutive years before that.
22. Chef Lala
CREDIT: PHOTO: chef_lala/Instagram
Think that Latin food can’t be made healthy? Think again! Chef LaLa is a classically trained chef and certified nutritionist who runs her own high-end catering business, SAVOR!, in Los Angeles while also appearing worldwide on national and international television to promote healthy Latin cooking.
23. Omar Flores
CREDIT: PHOTO: chefomarflores/Instagram
Omas Flores has been in the kitchen from a young age, and remembers helping his father cook in their family-run restaurants. Eventually, though, his talents led him to open restaurants in Dallas, Texas. His latest is Whistle Britches, a chicken, biscuit, and beer concept that opened in 2016. He has also been nominated by the James Beard Foundation, as has been his 2013 restaurant Casa Rubia.
24. Terry Hope Romero
CREDIT: PHOTO: terryhope/Instagram
Terry Hope Romero, also known as the Vegan Latina, is here to prove that Latin food can be healthy and delicious — and vegan! You might think that it’s not possible to avoid meat if you’re Latinx, but she has proven that you totally can with her bestselling vegan cookbooks, Viva Vegan!: Authentic Vegan Latin American Recipes, Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and more.
25. Jose Enrique
CREDIT: PHOTO: joseenriquepr/Instagram
The Puerto Rican-born chef Jose Enrique has worked in New York, Florida, and Louisiana before returning to his homeland. He opened his first restaurant, Jose Enrique, in 2007 and is known to focus on fresh Puerto Rican produce. He has won many accolades for his cuisine, including being a semifinalist for an award from the 2013 James Beard Foundation.
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