El Pasotiempo
February 28, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Visiting El Paso for a (work)week, seeking interesting and worthwhile activities for the off-hours.

I'll be visiting El Paso, Texas the second week of March, participating in a Spring Break Pro Bono Caravan--law school's answer to Alternative Spring Break--helping a local advocacy center with immigration and asylum cases. I'm flying in Sunday and out Saturday, and will be putting in full 9-5 workdays from Monday through Friday. My question: is there anything culinary, cultural, recreational, educational, engaging or otherwise can't-miss in El Paso that, most importantly, is open/accessible not during normal business hours? I've consulted past questions, but my focus is closer-in smaller-scale attractions---anything remotely interesting, really, that would enliven an evening.

Lodgings are downtowny and I'll be relying on public transportation, although I'm not disinclined to walk long distances. (Also, Ciudad Juarez is not an option due to prudence or perhaps lily-liveredness: as genuine national treasure Rick Perry put it, "it's the most dangerous city in America.") Thanks in advance, ladies and gents!
posted by MimeticHaHa to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
Rudy's BBQ is good Texas BBQ for a chain. I go there whenever I go to El Paso.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:51 PM on February 28, 2012

Former Las Crucen here (about an hour up the road from EP and not worth visiting). Haven't been in the area for about four years. Unfortunately, I don't think there is anything can't miss about the entire area, but I have some food recommendations.

El Paso has some surprisingly good Korean restaurants. Kal Bi House and Seoul Restaurant are two places worth trying. They're not just good Korean for El Paso, they're actually better than most places I've tried in NYC and Toronto. I remember them being very generous with the side dishes - they'll give you around a dozen even if you are only a single diner. There are also some Korean groceries in the area.

For Mexican food, try Pepe's Chicken. It's an El Paso chain with several stores around town. I always thought their taco and burrito offerings are better than their namesake chicken. Try the fish taco special if they have it - I think it's only on offer during Lent, but it is amazing. The horchata is great too.

I also remember a somewhat obscure Japanese restaurant in some random corner of town - very discreet - but it had almost an all Japanese clientele and the food was pretty good. I don't remember the name, but from what I remember it catered to Japanese businessmen visiting the factories across the border.

I know you mentioned you don't want to go to Juarez, but honestly if you stay within walking distance of the border during daylight I think you'll be fine. You drive over to the bridge on the El Paso side, walk over the bridge, and presto you're in Mexico. The area immediately next to the bridge is quite touristy and I can't imagine it would be at all dangerous. You can have some great tacos and eat some Mexican ice cream for a few bucks and less than two hours.
posted by pravit at 7:00 PM on February 28, 2012

Pho Tres Bien has good Vietnamese food and a very nice patio/greenhouse area. It's right on the I-10 service road.

H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop is El Paso's only restaurant with a James Beard Award.

My still mother lives in the area, and everyone there will tell you not to go to Juarez. Just don't. It's far too risky. People - teenagers, even - are getting shot within feet of the border. It's just not worth it.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:19 PM on February 28, 2012

*my mother still...
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:05 PM on February 28, 2012

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