El Paso, it was love at first bite. After arriving late and missing dinner, having breakfast was our first Texas task. We found deep mugs of coffee and a meal worthy of any hungry traveler at the Downtowner Restaurant. While I opted for a Rancheros Omelette, my sister ordered the Salmon toast. My tummy was jealous!
Food is a big part of any adventure. As I was soon to discover not all is Tex-Mex in El Paso. Here’s some of the best places to bite and sip when you’re in the area.
A relaxing and spacious dining room with just the right touch of elegance, the Downtowner became our go-to spot for meetings and snacks. The nooks and booths were tempting to linger in but we had much to explore in El Paso.
Camino Real Dome Bar
So lucky! We almost missed seeing the Dome Bar inside the historic Camino Real Hotel. Here’s a short video about the experience.
Yes, El Paso has it’s own craft brewery scene! I fell for the smooth, nutty Abuelita Stout that Dead Beach Brewery creates. Infused with Pecaho Coffee, it was spicy and sweet – just like hug from Grandma. The brewery is just a year old and unfortunately for me only open on weekends, but several bars carry their variations.
Ode Brewery is out in the University District. Bags of spent hops sat near the brewery door as we stepped towards the restaurant. The place is comfy, simple and authentic. There’s no doubt that the owners are fanatical about their passion. Loved the ‘Spoliated Barley Water’ Menu featuring seasonal beers and recent releases. La Gringa, their American Blonde Ale, is worth importing (Hear that, San Diego?) Look for the label across the country soon as the distribution ramps up.
No visit to El Paso is complete without seeing the Alligators in San Jacinto Plaza, the historic heart of downtown. The statue rises from a central pool and shifting lights flicker across the behemoths. In the 1950’s seven live Alligators lived in the pond. Shennaigans eventually led to them being moved to the zoo. Rumors continue about the Alligators showing up inside the Tap Room bar across from the plaza and other spots around town. Today the neighborhood hang out hosts live Jazz and a full bar. No Alligators in sight.
Craft and Social
A friendly spot around the corner from Hotel Indigo, Craft and Social hosts local and state wide brews, a tasting menu and live jazz. The happy hour specials are not to be beat.
El Paso has it’s own wine region and we sped out of town to check out Vin Valle Winery. The shop is hosted by the owners and the barrel room is worth seeing with the lengthy, hand painted table in the center. It matches the cheery and cheeky label designs too.
Finding local coffee hangouts is tantamount on my tourist list. Downtown, the Coffee Box rises from the edge of a parking lot. Made out of cantilevered box cars, a nod to the history of the railway in El Paso, the Box is open early to late. There’s WiFi and compact lounge areas indoors and out.
Monticello – Hillside Coffee
The University District has a new development brewing with housing, shops and restaurants. I found the Hillside coffee house a nice spot to cool off and check email for a few minutes. The shops carry local goods.
Best Breakfast in El Paso – Crave
With several locations in the city, we decided to visit the east El Paso location of Crave Kitchen and Bar. Chiliquilles to die for, a playful interior, patio and deeply upolstered bench seating and bottomless coffee – I only wish we were there long enough to dig into a meal at each location. The locations are open for breakfast through to dinner.
Dinner in El Paso
In the central downtown district, this elegant Bistro focuses on the finer things from table to decor. Cooling sprays keep the sidewalk diners comfortable. Wanting a light dinner I focused on the soups and breads. My sister had a salad and we were thorougly satiated. A mighty painting of the restaurant’s namesake, Anson Mills looms over the space. His local roots run deep as a United States Army officer, surveyor, inventor, and entrepreneur who even named and laid out the city of El Paso. There’s nothing stuffy about Anson 11 with it’s trippy artwork juxtaposed with a librarian’s sensibility!
Infused liquors, tapas and regional flavors kicked into high gear – that’s Tabla. Tucked into the warehouse district close to the stadium, generous servings and one of the best meals I had in the area.
Riviera Bar and Cantina
No visit to El Paso would be complete without enjoying Tex-Mex. We had platefuls at the east side restaurant, the Riviera. Satisfying, casual and full of locals.
Even though I’m not a big red meat eater, I couldn’t leave Texas without indulging in a bit of steak. I only wish we had more daylight hours at Cattleman’s Steakhouse. The ranch has had lots of media attention; you’ve seen it in TV shows and movies. There’s a petting zoo and odd animal collections to walk around. The sunset views are some of the best – especially enjoyed over dinner. I had an appetizer of tender ‘beef cubes’ and it was perfect. No salads though on the menu! How Paleo can you go?!
Where to dine and drink in El Paso
Downtowner: Comfort food in a chic decor inside Hotel Indigo
Crave: Three locations open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Anson 11: Bistro and fine dining with regional, American cuisine
Tabla: Tapas, infused liquors from an award-winning team
Riviera Bar and Cantina: Tex Mex and local hangout
Cattleman’s Steakhouse: East of town but well worth the drive. Famous for steaks, movie sets and animals.
Coffee Box: Casual spot with WiFi, patios and lounge seating
Monticello: Shops, restaurants and the Hillside Coffee Cafe
El Paso Beer and Wine
Dome Bar inside the Camino Real Hotel: Historic decor and fine drinks.
Dead Beach Brewery: Promising new brewery in downtown El Paso.
Ode Brewery: Ambitious brewery with first location in the University District
Vin Valle: Family run tasting room in the panhandle vineyard region.
Tap Room: Neighborhood Bar with jazz nights across from San Jacinto Plaza Alligators.
This trip was made possible by the El Paso Visitor’s Office. I thank them for pointing me in the right directions and helping me discover El Paso. All opinions are always my own.