Red? Green? Anything else?
November 27, 2006 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Cool places to eat in or around El Paso, TX/Las Cruces, NM?

Looking for fun places to eat in the area with my parents and little sister. Prefer in the $10-15/person range, no bars, vegetarian options a plus.

sorta previously
posted by 1f2frfbf to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Dunno about the vegetarian, but La Posta de Mesilla in/near Las Cruces is fuckin-A number-1 excellent Mexican food, and easily in your price range. Billy the Kid done et there!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2006

Ditto on La Posta de Mesilla. Their food is excellent. We've also eaten at another mexican restaurant called Chilitos on Valley Drive. It's more of a hole in the wall than La Posta, but the food is good. You might have difficulty finding a vegetarian meal at either of these places, since they use animal fat when cooking most of the dishes.

I assume you already know this by the title, but if your waitron asks if you want "red" or "green", they're referring to the heat in the sauce - red is comparably mild, and green is hot.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:38 PM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: My favorite place to eat in El Paso is Sinbad's, on Mesa St right after University, a fairly cheap middle eastern diner, definitely vegetarian friendly. There's also Kinley's House, a cute coffee house right down the street that serves sandwiches and soups. Further down on Mesa is a decent Thai restaurant whose name I forget. In addition, Lucy's Diner, also on Mesa, serves grade-A Mexican food, real cheap, and it's a totally adorable place.

For pure vegetarian food, there's a place called Veggie Good, it's a big salad bar type place, but if you ask me, it's all really tasteless and gross.
posted by Subcommandante Cheese at 2:35 PM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: Re: Las Cruces--La Posta is the popular favorite. It's the first thing most people will recommend. I really like Lorenzo's (the one on University Avenue) for Italian food. SI Italian Bistro on Idaho is also good, and has excellent desserts. Tiffany's Greek restaurant and pizzeria just off Telshor has delicious gyros. For an interesting authentic Mexican experience, Chope's cantina in La Mesa, NM is famous. Cheap and pretty tasty.

Also not sure about where to go for good vegetarian options, but Boba Cafe is a nifty sandwich/salad/soup/bubble tea place. Tegmeyer's used to have the best salad bar in town, and maybe they still do.

LC isn't exactly the cooling dining capital of the world.

Also, with all respect to SteveInMaine, it's not quite as simple as red=mild, green=hot. I've had some awfully hot red sauce, and some really mild green sauce. Best to ask which is hotter in a particular restaurant on a particular day.

Feel free to email me about Las Cruces if I could help with more specifics.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:59 PM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: The quality of restaurants in Las Cruces is extremely poor. Even worse for vegetarians. There is a new Indian restaurant across the street from the university. I haven't been there, so can't comment. There is also a middle eastern place with decent hummus called International Delights Cafe.
The thai restaurant, Lemongrass Cafe, is inconsisent at best. Don't bother.
posted by allelopath at 6:42 PM on November 27, 2006

oh, also, i disagree with the assessment that "red is comparably mild, and green is hot." Red or green can be mild or hot.
posted by allelopath at 6:45 PM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: I like Gil Garduño's site for restaurant reviews with a New Mexico orientation, but the only Las Cruces one he's reviewed is this one. Still, it sounds pretty good to me as a place to check out.
posted by wanderingmind at 8:45 PM on November 27, 2006

Best answer: My friend Amy Lee (a native El Paso-an) says:

"Tell them that if they like La Posta, they will like Griggs. Griggs is actually in El Paso, unlike La Posta. It was all owned by the same family once upon a time and the recipes are the same. However, the most recent owner of Griggs died a couple months ago and I think the future of the restaurant is questionable - they should call before they head over.

Other good Mexican joints are Julio's (breakfast!), Avila's and Forti's Mexican Elder.

Red vs green has nothing to do with heat index, it has to do with the types of chiles used to make the sauce. Green is made with fresh green anaheim chiles (which, admittedly, can be hot) and red is made with dried red chile pods. Heat index is not determined by color but more often size, and what causes a chile to be hot is not the seeds, but something called Capsaicin which is in the membranes inside the chile that holds the seeds to the sides.

Bella Napoli or Cappetto's for Italian.

If they want chinese, there's a PF Chang's on the west side. Yes, it's a chain but this is El Paso. It gets packed, reservations recommended.

Steak - Cattleman's at Indian Cliffs Ranch or State Line.

There are no strictly vegetarian places in El Paso. It is possible to find something fairly vegetarian on most menus, but good luck trying to find a place that will cater to vegans (I expect we'll be eating at home with my sister a lot)."
posted by hermitosis at 9:38 PM on November 27, 2006

I retract my previous statement about red and green. Shows what a Mainer knows about chiles.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:13 AM on November 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all! My family are not big eat-out types so I was hoping to take them somewhere new when I visit. This gives me a good list.

(...and red or green, it's all good to me.)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:43 AM on November 28, 2006

Finally, a question I am qualified to answer!

La Posta is touristy, overpriced, and not particularly great for "New Mexican" food, but everyone visiting town eats there, so you might as well give it a try. Visitors tend to like Mesilla for some reason, even though it's just an unimpressive church and a few gift shops selling pottery and typical SW-themed tourist junk.

I would suggest Andele restaurant instead - it's also in Mesilla, and their taco platter is pretty good. You get your choice of beef, pork, or chicken(or some combination), a bunch of flour and corn tortillas, and plenty of guacamole and beans. Plus a salsa bar with a dozen different kinds of salsa.

For Mexican-Mexican food(not "New Mexican"), there are a few taco wagons around town - there is one in the parking lot of K-mart on El Paseo. Everything there is delicious, especially the al pastor and barbacoa tacos. If you can't find the taco wagon, try Pepe's Chicken - they're a chain, but a damn good one. They're named after their charbroiled chicken, which is excellent, but their tacos are also really good. If you're lucky enough to go during Lent, they have some kick-ass fish tacos. Don't forget a cup of aguas frescas with your meal.

Another excellent but overlooked place is the Ranchway down on Valley drive. Don't be scared by their name; they make some AMAZING flautas and barbecue. These flautas are nothing like you have eaten before; they are not crispy, huge (two flautas is usually enough if you're a big eater), and filled with DELICIOUS barbecue meat. They're family-owned and have weird hours, so they may be closed sometimes.

There is Chope's which I (embarassingly enough) have never tried, but their chile rellenos are famous among Las Crucens. Chope's is probably the only thing I'd say we're really famous for, and it's not even in Las Cruces. Another family-owned place with weird hours.

If you get tired of Mexican food, Taste of India (across from the university) is actually pretty good - I really like their chicken makhani and lamb curry. The Mix has decent sushi, but is expensive (for our standards). Lemongrass sucks and is expensive. For decent Italian, try SI restaurant behind the El Paseo Albertson's, or that new restaurant way up on Commerce drive where Jaan used to be.

For some reason, Bosa donuts is famous for their brisket burrito. It's not bad, but nothing to write home about. I really enjoy the "super burritos" at the K-mart taco stand I mentioned earlier - real value for your money!

For El Paso:

Don't miss El Paso's Koreatown, which is around Dyer/Hondo Pass. There are a couple of really good Korean restaurants around - my current favorite is Kalbi House. They give you like two dozen side dishes even if you're eating alone. Everything there is really good, but if you're unfamiliar with Korean food, try bibimbap, bulgogi, and kimbap, for starters. If you're feeling brave, try the yukhoe bibimbap (Korean "steak tartare"), despite the official notice on the wall stating that all meat products must be fully cooked. I never thought raw beef could be that tasty and delicious - IMO it's better without any of the chili sauce mixed in. I've eaten it twice without any ill effects, so it's probably fine.

Despite their name, I actually think the kalbi is much better at Seoul Restaurant, a bit further up the street. Their kalbi is seriously the most amazing meat I've eaten in the area - you won't be disappointed! The owner is also a fun guy to talk to. Stop by the Korean grocery next door, buy some candy and the drink with whole grapes in it, and say hi to the owner for me.

There is also a Japanese restaurant, Matsuharu, that isn't too bad - better than the Mix in LC, anyway. You might even spot some Japanese maquiladora owners!
posted by pravit at 3:02 PM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, and don't try looking for any decent Chinese food unless you like soggy glop in sweet sauce. There seriously isn't any real Chinese food for hundreds of miles. If you need Chinese groceries, however, there is a large grocery store near exit 26 called Oriental Imports. The owners are Mexican-born Chinese! They also sell clothes, kitchenware, and furniture, if you need a Chinese-themed bedroom.

Lorenzo's is not particularly good Italian despite their many locations. Dion's has some pretty good pizza and sandwiches.

If you want to try Mexican seafood, you can try El Taco Mexicano Numero Uno - I've eaten there without getting sick, and it's pretty cheap and has friendly waitstaff! El Taco Mexicano Numero Dos only serves tacos (no seafood). There is a mediocre Mexican seafood restaurant on El Paseo whose name I can't remember, but it has "Mar" in the name and is fairly obvious. There's also Estrella del Mar, which is a very seedy-looking Mexican restaurant combined with a carwash. I've never eaten there, but I would imagine they make seafood. There's also fish tacos during Lent at Pepe's and even at Ranchway(the ones at Pepe's are way better though).

Other New Mexican-style places: Las Trancas, Nopalitos, Robertos, plenty of others I can't name off the top of my head. They're all the same, really.
posted by pravit at 3:17 PM on November 3, 2007

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