A Gastronomic Tour of El Paso
By Stephanie Cameron, Caitlin Jenkins, and Amy Tischler
@TravelNewMexico™ documents New Mexico road trips by inviting guest Instagrammers to take over the account to share their unique experiences through imagery and stories. In February 2020, pre-lockdown, and again in May 2021, I set off with Amy Tischler and Caitlin Jenkins, founders of @TravelNewMexico, to discover what has become one of our new favorite destinations. In the past, we have unearthed New Mexico’s unique gems of Silver City, Las Vegas, Sunland Park, and Las Cruces. After visiting Las Cruces and Sunland Park in 2019, I knew we wanted to cross the western Texas border and explore El Paso for a future travel issue. El Paso stands on the Rio Grande, known as the Río Bravo to those on its opposite shore in Ciudad Juárez. Along with Las Cruces, these three cities form an international metropolitan area sometimes referred to as the Paso del Norte or the Borderplex.
El Paso means “the pass,” which felt apt to me as I considered the years I’d spent passing through El Paso on my way to somewhere else, never stopping to see what it had to offer. Word on the street was that a lot of money was being put into revitalizing downtown El Paso, and the city had lots to explore, both new and old. With suggestions from several locals, we got the lowdown on where we should eat, imbibe, shop, and stay. Here, we illustrate our journey down south by sharing photos of all the discoveries we made as we ate and drank our way through Sun City.
Thanks to @TravelNewMexico for a great road trip collaboration! Follow them on Instagram as they post more about our gastronomic tour of El Paso.
1. From the 1880s until the 1960s, downtown El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza featured a pond filled with live alligators. Many people still fondly refer to the plaza as La Plaza de los Lagartos, or Alligator Plaza. Today, a fiberglass sculpture by nationally acclaimed local artist Luis Jiménez honors the original alligators. 114 W Mills Ave
2. ELEMI is a modern, taco-focused Mexican restaurant, with made-to-order corn tortillas as its foundation. We shared a platter of à la carte tacos, brussels sprouts with balsamic agave, and the Aguachile de Callo de Hacha. 313 N Kansas St
3. The Dome Bar is located in Hotel Paso Del Norte. Sip on a curated cocktail, enjoy a light bite and gaze at the iconic twenty-five-foot Tiffany-style stained-glass dome. We enjoyed the Desert Bird, featuring rum, Campari, and prickly pear extract. 10 Sheldon Ct
4. At Hotel Indigo, you can cool off in the fifth-floor outdoor pool and watch desert sunsets from the floor-to-ceiling windows in your room. Hotel Indigo also features Circa 1963, a panoramic bar overlooking the skyline of El Paso. We enjoyed the La Adelita margarita. 325 N Kansas St
5. The Stanton House hotel maintains a collection of original prints, paintings, and sculptures, and includes works from accomplished and up-and-coming Mexican, European, and local artists. Stanton House’s Taft-Díaz restaurant serves haute cuisine innovated by chef/patrón Oscar Herrera that celebrates regional influences. 209 N Stanton St
6. Heritage meets luxury in Hotel Paso del Norte, an icon that has stood more than a century. Atop the tenth-story roof is where guests watched the Border Campaign of the Mexican Revolution play out. 10 Sheldon Ct
7. Grove Brunch Cafe offers traditional and fusion brunch, lunch, and light dinner menu items, along with a full bar. We loved the kimchi fried rice. 7470 Cimarron Market Ave
8. Sabor serves Mexican and southwestern cuisine, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in a beautiful setting with great cocktails. We enjoyed Champiñones Tacos and the Sabor Margarita. 10 Sheldon Ct
9. District Coffee Co. is an industrial-style coffee shop featuring coffee beans from Picacho Coffee Roasters in Las Cruces. They have coffee lovers covered with a variety of lattes and ice-blended options, and their toasts hit the spot before a morning walk. We enjoyed the Seedy Toast and HBE Toast. 222 Texas Ave
10. Salt + Honey is a breakfast and brunch spot in central El Paso with a creative café menu, cold-pressed juices, locally roasted coffee, mimosas, and sangrias. The Tacos Borrachos and Salt + Honey Fries are must-tries. 801 N Piedras St
11. Aurellia’s Bottle Shop & Brewhouse is an ultramodern brew-house, bottle shop, and restaurant serving upscale bar food and pizzas. Their brews are constantly changing, and they curate craft brews from around the US. 1620 N Resler Dr
12. Blazing Tree Brewery awaits beer aficionados from an unassuming locale tucked away in an industrial complex. They rotate a seasonal beer menu, offer classic bar food, and have an amiable and accommodating staff. 11426 Rojas Dr
13. Hope and Anchor is an inviting hangout serving beer, wine, and cocktails, with an expansive, lantern- adorned outdoor patio. Experience delicious food at Sabertooth, located next door, along with your favorite drink. 4012/4006 N Mesa St
14. El Paso Brewing Co. has an inviting atmosphere where you can grab a brew and enjoy a game of giant Jenga. 810 Texas Ave
15. Rosa’s Cantina, of Marty Robbins fame, is the oldest bar in El Paso. It’s the ultimate dive bar, and they make a mean margarita (even if it is served with a maraschino cherry).
3454 Doniphan Dr
16. Noodles & Dumplings offers delicious Chinese food at five different locations in El Paso. They are the real deal! And they make their noodles by hand. We shared many different dishes, but the favorite was the Xiao Long Bao, served up in a steamer basket. Multiple locations.
17. Ámbar Restaurante features wood-fired modern Mexican cuisine and the largest agave spirit collection in North America. Ask for a mezcal luge with the Tuetano (grilled bone marrow) and enjoy the Foie Gras Torchon. 106 W Mills Ave
18. You will feel like you have stepped back in time at the 1700° Steakhouse, Hotel Paso del Norte’s fine dining restaurant. They serve up fine hand-cut steaks such as porterhouse, filet mignon, veal, bison, and Wagyu beef. The restaurant is aptly named for the temperature of the oven. We enjoyed the Roasted Bone Marrow with onion soubise. 10 Sheldon Ct
19. The Berkeley Cocktail Lounge creates a living room–style atmosphere where friends gather and enjoy finely crafted cocktails while classic movies are projected onto the back wall. Lavender Breeze is the most popular item on the menu, and Berkeley on Fire is a great mezcal cocktail. 317 E Mills Ave
20. El Velvet Elvis at the Pershing Inn creates original, modernist cocktails focused on balance, presentation, sustainability, and an unforgettable experience. Don’t be put off by the exterior—or enter the wrong door —and you will be pleasantly surprised with some of the most creative cocktails we have ever tried. Try the Dorada Víbora made with sotol and a mango and tomatillo shrub.
2909 Pershing Dr
21. El Mirador at Hotel Paso del Norte is a sleek and cozy rooftop hangout. Stunning downtown views make this tenth-floor hangout one-of-its-kind. We snacked on spicy wings and enjoyed the Hibiscus Mirage made with rum and hibiscus extract. 10 Sheldon Ct
22. Rocketbuster Handmade Custom Boots is an eclectic brick warehouse building in the historic Union Plaza District of downtown. If you love boots, you will think you have died and gone to heaven when you walk into this place. They are more than happy to give you a tour and show you the endless possibilities when it comes to designing a pair of boots. Be sure to tip your tour guide. 115 Anthony St
23. Known as the best view of the city accessible by car, Scenic Drive wows visitors every time. Featuring fabulous views of El Paso and Juárez, the road traverses the southern tip of the Franklin Mountains. You’ll get the most out of your drive by pulling over at the small park and scenic overlook. The road is closed off to motorists every Sunday, offering visitors a safe haven for walking, running, or biking. 2100 Scenic Dr
24. Burn some calories while strolling the downtown area and taking in the eclectic architecture. The city has commissioned more than thirty-five public art projects that range from murals to abstract sculptures. And many businesses throughout Sun City have added eye-popping murals as an extension of their personality. There is something to be discovered around just about every corner, with infinite Instagrammable moments.