10 Completely Underrated El Paso Restaurants
After another list was released this week proclaiming the top 10 restaurants in El Paso, I’d had enough. Yes, L&J’s is good, Ardovino’s is great, but none of this is news to anyone. It seems like every ‘Best of’ list and ‘Top 10′ article has the same restaurants in it. Although these restaurants are great places to eat, there’s more to eat, El Paso. There are small restaurants all around the city that deserve some serious recognition.
The list below was compiled by several El Paso foodies with consideration to how delicious a restaurant was versus how well-known it might be. If we considered a restaurant to be ‘well-known’, it was disqualified. Our apologies to the following delicious restaurants: Crave, Mesa Street Grill, Frisco Burger, Avila’s, and many others.
It’s completely unscientific, but we’d raise our forks in protest of anyone who thought these 10 restaurants didn’t deserve to make the list. Do yourself a favor and try them out.
This hole-in-the-wall may not look like much, but the tortas and aguas frescas will have you rethinking the meaning of life. The barbacoa torta is the star of the show in this small restaurant, but you won’t want to miss the frozen, smoothie-like aguas frescas which use real fruit and come in a variety of flavors. Prices are cheap, but get here early for lunch. The restaurant has a sizable group of loyal customers that flock here for lunch.
It’s street tacos at their finest. Pick your meat, pick your tortilla, add some salsa and select a cooking style and you’ve got a seemingly endless variety of delicious tacos to please your palette. They offer four meat options, including tofu, and specialty cooking styles like Korean BBQ, which we HIGHLY recommend. Nab some aguas frescas for only $2 to complete your meal.
One of the newest restaurants on our list, Sabertooth opened with a bang in El Paso. Next to Hope and Anchor, this restaurant offers a variety of food from Mexican to Greek, served in a modern style. Vegetarians take note — the portabella mushroom burger is just one of several fabulous meatless options. We highly recommend the jicama and cucumber in spicy lime sauce for anyone looking for new, local flavors. If that wasn’t enough, it’s open late — until 2:30 a.m. on some nights.
If you’re looking for seafood, The Little Shack is the place for you. The appearance of an old boat shack that belongs on the bayou might be a little off-putting, but the food is well worth a visit. Try the fish or shrimp tacos and you won’t be disappointed. The seafood is very fresh and reasonably-sized. The shrimp in the shrimp cocktail will easily fill a spoon. If you’re looking for a really cheap option, try the tacos on Tuesday for only $2.
Pho Tre Bien almost didn’t make the list because so many people eat there every day, but then we thought, “If even one person in El Paso hasn’t tried this place yet, it’s worth writing about.” So we did. Easily the best pho in town, but also serves up indisputably good fried noodle dishes and spring rolls. If you’re craving fresh Vietnamese cuisine, it’s the greatest place in town. If you haven’t mustered up the courage to delve into Viewnamese food yet, let this place be your first. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it sooner.
Whether you’re an Indian food fan or looking for a way to ease into the cuisine, Chut-ney is the best option. Lunch thalis, or plates made of a selection of various dishes, are the perfect way to discover Indian cuisine without committing to a dish you’ve never tried. Vegetarian thalis are available for $7, meat dishes from $9, with approximately 6 different items on each plate. Full-sized items are also available. The tandoori chicken is a specialty here for good reason.
We’ll start this off by blowing your mind — sweet potato chips with honey and feta. Delicious. All their burgers are more than half a pound of meat and topped with intriguing items like roasted pickled bell pepper, pesto cheese, and cucumber mint yogurt. If you’re looking to take regular burgers and fries to a new level, Tutu’s is the spot. It opened this summer, but we’re betting it’ll be an eastside staple very soon.
Technically this one isn’t a restaurant, it’s a group of food trucks. But, when you’ve got so much good stuff going on, you deserve a nod of approval. Every day a group of up to 4 food trucks gathers downtown to serve some quick, delicious eats in a fun, outdoor setting. The trucks rotate, so you’ll need to like their Facebook page for daily updates on which trucks are hosting that day’s lunch. You’ll find tacos, sushi, cupcakes, crepes, and the most amazing zucchini fries on Earth in this small lot on Mills Ave. Do yourself a favor and stop by for lunch and a fun dining experience.
**UPDATE — Foodville has moved. Follow their Facebook page to find out where each of the trucks are each day.**
Still fairly new, Sushi Zen opened in February 2013. It’s clean, quick, and very fresh, but it makes our list for one, big reason — the lunch special. If you’ve got $10 and a hearty appetite, you can enjoy a bountiful lunch menu that allows you to mix and match three items from several categories. In the last few months, the restaurant has seen increased traffic, so get there soon. We’re betting this place will be one of the busiest in the UTEP area in a few months.
Voted the best Mediterranean food in El Paso by most of the foodies in our office, we vote this El Paso’s most underrated restaurant. With gyros the size of a football and handmade items like grape leaves and fatayer (meat pockets baked in dough), this hidden restaurant is the perfect balance of food made with care and an affordable meal. Tucked away behind Singapore Cafe on North Mesa, you likely won’t spot this small strip-mall restaurant from the street, but it’s well worth seeking out. The hummus is some of the best in town and it provides a quiet, casual atmosphere for any occasion. Meals range from $7 to $12 for lunch and dinner with large portions for every plate.