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!
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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.
Photo Credit: Silva’s Supermarket
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.
Photo Credit: zachmorrisishot / Flickr
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.
King’s X and Lucy’s
Photo Credit: Norby J. / Yelp
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.
Photo Credit: Wayne L. / Yelp
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.
H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop
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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.
House of Pizza
Photo Credit: House of Pizza / Facebook
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.
Photo Credit: @crazyfootsk8r
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.
The Lunch Box
Photo Credit: Dago M. / Yelp
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.”
Photo Credit: Dago M. / Yelp
Must try: Migas. It’s that hole in the wall on Myrtle that has killer migas. It reminds you of running around the neighborhood up to no good – and all your underage drinking.
Photo Credit: @quintva
Must try: Bolillos. Yeah, the pillowy perfection is good for tortas but its true calling is as menudo’s beloved sidekick. A toasted bolillo with menudo can cure even the worst Juárez cruda.
Frisco Burger Inn
Photo Credit: @aestocardiel
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.
Anywhere in El Paso: Menudo
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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.