Get us in your inbox

cafe central el paso
Photograph: Courtesy Cafe Central

The 10 best restaurants in El Paso right now

Whether you’re after tacos, steak, or even far-flung flavors, here are the best restaurants in El Paso

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Justine Harrington
Advertising

Once considered nothing more than a border stop, El Paso is now a vacation-worthy destination in its own right — and while its perks are plentiful, the best restaurants in El Paso continue to steal the show. The small city straddles the edges of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico, a trifecta for of flavor you can’t miss in its staple dishes, but El Paso’s culinary finesse also finds influences from all over the world. You’ll taste flavors that recall the likes of Spain, Italy, Lebanon, and a whole lot more, which really just means one thing: eating is one of the best things to do in El Paso, so make sure you arrive with an empty stomach.

Whether you prefer a romantic evening at an upscale restaurant, or comfort food at a hole in the wall, expect the big ‘n tasty at our picks of the best restaurants in El Paso.

RECOMMENDED: the best things to do in Texas

Best restaurants in El Paso

Tacoholics
Photograph: Courtesy Tacoholics

1. Tacoholics

What is it? A former gourmet food truck turned brick-and-mortar that serves sinfully delicious tacos and burritos. 

Why go? This taco joint is a favorite among locals, and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. But if you can only eat one meal at Tacoholics, make it the Flautas Ahogadas, El Paso’s famous rolled tacos. Made with white wheat flour and corn masa, the tortillas for the flautas are stuffed with ground beef, fried and then smothered in queso fresco and tangy salsa verde. During the pandemic they also launched a giant Quarantine Pack, ideal for (socially distanced) parties with enough in there for 120 tacos.

What is it? An El Paso institution dating back to 1927 that’s frequently touted as the best restaurant in the city.

Why go? Steeped in four generations of family tradition, L&J Café is the very soul of El Paso itself. The food is incredible — the chile de arbol salsa, for starters, is so good that it’s bottled and sold on the premises. Then there are signature items like red enchiladas, tostadas, ground beef tacos, and chile rellenos that are the stuff of legend. L&J has been beloved by locals for nearly a century, and the restaurant has won numerous awards and accolades over the years.

Advertising

What is it? An elegant bistro (there’s even valet!) that serves the most upscale food in the city in a lovely setting on Oregon Street.

Why go? Café Central aims to impress: the seasonal cuisine is reliably outstanding with popular menu items like Miso Chilean Sea Bass and Grilled Angus Tenderloin. The ambiance is tres chic, too, making it an especially great spot for date night. Don’t feel like splurging on a meal? It’s also a fabulous place for late-night drinks, thanks to the inviting outdoor terrace and fully-stocked bar.

What is it? A pretty blue and white Greek restaurant (with two locations in town) that transports guests to the islands of Mykonos or Santorini (without the jet lag).

Why go? Because here you’ll find authentic Greek and Mediterranean grub made from scratch by the only trained Greek chef in El Paso. His kabobs (chicken, lamb, and ground beef) are charbroiled and delicious, while other Greek table staples (like Gryos and Moussaka) are top-notch. Ask about the specials for fancier entrees, if you’re feeling extra.

Advertising

What is it? An iconic family-style restaurant situated on Indian Cliffs Ranch, 20 miles east of El Paso.

Why go? Cattleman’s Steakhouse may not technically be in El Paso, but the drive is well worth your time. The hearty T-bone steaks are cut on the premises every day, and the desert scenery is stunning. This is also the perfect place to bring kiddos since, in addition to the restaurant, there’s a lake, a private petting zoo, a movie set, a playground, and more.

What is it? A little slice of Lebanese cuisine in a welcoming El Paso strip-mall restaurant.

Why go? For a taste of the Mediterranean. This is the place to come for authentic falafel sandwiches, fatayer pastries, gyro wraps, sizzling shawarma, hummus, kabobs and even pizza and focaccia sandwiches (for those in your party who aren’t feeling adventurous). In case you can’t see it when you’re driving by, it’s situated behind Singapore Café.

Advertising

What is it? A garden-fresh, scenic Italian restaurant over the border in New Mexico that also hosts a popular farmers’ market most weekends.

Why go? Known as one of the region’s premier spots for fine dining, Ardovino’s is the perfect place to spend a Saturday. The mountainous desert scenery is hard to beat, and most of the veggies and herbs are grown on-site. For almost two decades, the Farmers’ Market at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing has sold high-quality produce, foodstuffs, and cutesy homemade gifts. Plan to spend at least a few hours here.   

What is it? A casual gastropub serving modern American and Tex-Mex alongside a wide selection of cocktails, beer, and wine.

Why go? This family-run eatery is the perfect place to enjoy good food at affordable prices. Sit on the patio with Salsa Macha Brussels sprouts and a Ribeye sandwich for a complete meal that costs less than 30 bucks. Hoping to double-down on the good deal? Arrive in time for Happy Hour (Wednesday through Friday) and your margarita is a bargain $5.

Advertising

What is it? One of those rare places with a huge reputation that's actually well-deserved.

Why go? Though Kiki’s Mexican Restaurant was a well-kept secret among locals for years, this friendly little café has become quite the crowd-pleaser. Both dinner and lunch are usually packed, so you’ll need to arrive early if you want to snag a spot. The house specialty is the “Machaca”, a braised beef dish layered with green chili sauce, onions, and cheese topped with a runny egg. Yum!

What is it? A beloved café and a social initiative (the concept contributes to female empowerment and local community development) that has served traditional, nutritional Mexican fare since 2001.

Why go? The menu changes with the seasons, but visitors can rest assured that their meal at Café Mayapan will be excellent regardless of the time of year. Indulge in hearty, healthy classic dishes with a twist—like roasted cactus and turkey picadillo lettuce wrap tacos—and then shop for artisanal goods at Lum Metik Fair Trade Company, located right behind the café.

 

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising