Texas is known for its massive size and notable cultural hubs —but tucked away in the western corner, near New Mexico and Mexico proper, is El Paso. A city known for its diverse culture, El Paso also has a melting-pot culinary scene, with everything from traditional Mexican to contemporary American restaurants. Taste this border town with our top 10 favorite restaurant picks.
Ardovino’s may technically be located in New Mexico, but it is a go-to spot for many border Texans. Known for its Italian cuisine and a gorgeous mountain view, Ardovino’s is a fun place to relax on the patio, or sit in the 1950s Mecca Lounge. The vegetables and herbs used in the dishes are mostly grown on site; try the scarlet snapper with artichokes, mushrooms, kalamata olives and orzo pasta. Throughout the year you may also find a Saturday farmers’ market, where shoppers delight in fresh produce, homemade salsas, and local jewelry.
The Avila family prides itself on over 60 years of serving the best Mexican food in El Paso, and welcomes guests in under the bright red archway to Avila’s. Order a queso to split among the table and try the gorditas or huevos rancheros. Save room for complimentary sopapillas, a traditional dessert featuring plenty of sugar. Take the family here and appreciate the polite, attentive service, even on busy weekends. The servers can recommend any of the freshly prepared, spicy dishes, which are full of flavor. With a charming interior and casual seating, visitors will feel like they are going on a picnic rather than out to eat.
Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch is 20 miles outside of El Paso, but is worth the drive for those who want some of the country’s best meat. The house rib eye and two-pound ‘Cowboy’ T-bone are considered signature dishes, cooked to perfection on the char-grill. The Southern ambiance is highlighted by the ancient wagons, herds of grazing cattle, and ranch vibe. The views from this venue are so spectacular that Hollywood producers are said to visit often, seeking out the best angles for their cinematic ventures.
Hamachi Sushi opened its doors in the summer of 2009 to quickly become one of the best sushi fusion restaurants in Texas. Owner and Head Chef Mariano learnt how to make authentic sushi and rolls in California, and brought this knowledge to El Paso. Each roll is fresh and elegantly prepared alongside delicious miso soup; for dessert, try the mochi green tea ice cream, a fun spin on Japanese tradition. The menu changes often as Chef Mariano comes up with new ways to do sushi, so check in regularly for other great menu options.
Mexican culinary traditions are best represented at Julio’s Café Corona, where familial dishes have been crafted with love since 1981. The first Julio’s location was in Juarez, Mexico, but became so popular with the El Paso crowd that Don Julio Ramirez made the move to Texas. Now, this establishment is known for favorite entrées like the filete tampiquena and salpicon – and, of course, don’t forget to try the mole poblano, a dish with a centuries-old history. It may be busy at peak hours, but the wait for a table is worth it. Patrons often discuss the authentic spicy peppers used to craft the salsas and other dishes, like enchiladas and chile con queso.
The Italian Kitchen | Courtesy The Italian Kitchen
The Italian Kitchen has been a local El Paso staple since 1948, and continues to bring homemade Italian recipes to the Texas scene. Sam and Rita Maranto opened with a promise to create quality food, which can be sampled alongside the wines on the recommended list, and eaten outside to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. On weekends, expect live music and food specials to accompany the already amazing homemade meals. From salads to pizzas, this restaurant is great for vegetarians, but also has interesting meat-filled dishes, like the shrimp scallopini.
El Paso is known for a wide array of Tex Mex restaurants, but sometimes a change is refreshing. The Greek food at Zino’s is exactly what to try if you seek variety and vibrancy. Loved by many locals, this restaurant crafts a flavorsome salad, seasoned with herb olive oil and traditional feta. The lentil soups are great to warm up the body as winter approaches, or if you’re in a rush, you can grab a gyro on pita bread to go.