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1976 El Paso Mexican Restaurants

El Paso Supplemental Article (Historical)

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Alejandro's 4532 N. Mesa Exp

Caballero 6400 Montana

Casa Aztlan 3927 Montana Exp
Casa Calderon 8450 Alameda Exp
Casa Jurado 226 Cincinnati Mod

Chico's Tacos 4230 Alameda

Chico's Tacos 5305 Montana Cheap Snacks only
Del Camino 5001 Alameda Exp

El Conquistador 4950 Hondo Pass

Elmer's 6305 Montana Exp

El Nido 6932 Gateway East

El Nopal 2314 Wyoming

El Paseo 1611 Montana

El Popo Cafe 424 S. Mesa

El Rapido 617 S. El Paso

El Taquito Place 3031 Tularosa

El Zarape 819 S. El Paso

Forti's 321 Chelsea Exp
G & R 401 E. Nevada Mod
Griggs 5800 Doniphan Exp Best food in town
Griggs 9007 Montana Exp Best food in town
Hector's N. Mesa Exp

Juanito's Cafe 7803 North Loop

L & W 510 Myrtle Mod Good Chinese food

La Chalupa 317 W. Overland

La Fuente 4606 Alameda

La Fuente 11055 Gateway West

La Hacienda 1720 W. Paisano Cheap Good, well balanced meal
La Paloma 1017 Delta Cheap
La Paloma 9415 Dyer Mod Excel. chile relleno

La Posada 307 E. Overland

La Rondalla 7277 Alameda

Leo's 5315 Hondo Pass Exp
Leo's 6232 N. Mesa Exp
Leo's 315 Mills Exp
Leo's 5103 Montana Exp Excel. enchiladas

Leo's 7872 North Loop

Leo's 2285 Trawood

Leo's 2030 E. Yandell Exp

Lily's 4315 Montana

Lupita's 8929 Alameda

Lupita's 1230 Myrtle Mod

Mario's 1829 Magoffin

Mexican Cottage 904 Texas

Mi Amiga 501 E. 3rd

Michael's 122 S. Mesa

Montezuma Cafe 211 S. Kansas

Nacho's 110 E. Franklin

Ole 412 E. San Antonio Exp

Pablo's 2602 N. Piedras

Palmera 2301 Olive

Pancho's 5908 Alameda Cheap Excel. enchiladas
Pancho's 8739 Dyer Cheap Terrible

Pancho's McRae & Sims

Penjamo Cafe 2905 Alameda

Railroader, The 345 Myrtle Mod Snacks only

Raphael's Missouri & Kansas

Rincon de España
Exp Service is terrible
Riviera 5218 Doniphan Exp

Royal Rest. 2905 Alameda

Ruidoso Cafe 419 S. Mesa

Sierra's 3027 Alameda

Sombra del Pasado Socorro

Taquito House 915 Myrtle

Tony's 706 N. Piedras


New Mexico Tourism & Travel published a list of the state's Culinary Treasures, restaurants which have been in continuous operation for at least 40 years and which remain family owned and operated. Billy Crews in Santa Teresa (just outside the El Paso city limits) made the list, as did several restaurants in the Las Cruces area.

In the same spirit I am submitting my own list of El Paso Mexican restaurants which was compiled in 1976 (my first year of living in the city). This is not quite a 40 year old list, and does not include anything other than Mexican food, but it is somewhat of a start in identifying El Paso's "culinary treasures." Probably the ratings I made of these restaurants are not as important as the fact that many of them are still in operation, showing what I think is a greater than average longevity of eating places in El Paso.

This list includes Mexican Restaurants from the telephone directory, but I do not believe it is a complete list. After this much time I cannot remember the reason some restaurants were not included (but I suspect I saw some names in the phone book which I did not know were Mexican restaurants).

The restaurants I visited and rated are in bold.

Rating System

Ratings are included for restaurants I visited:
Very Good.

Additional Comments

I think this was my first attempt at rating restaurants, and all comments were based on my personal preferences rather than any objective or systematic rating scale.

Some restaurants had higher ratings in 1976 than I would give them today, and this is probably due to my perception that they have declined in quality. Examples of this include Leo's and Elmer's.

Some restaurants had low ratings in 1976 that at this point I really cannot explain based on later experiences. These include Forti's and Riviera.

The price categories were somewhat influenced by my budget, and probably some of the places marked "expensive" were not so in reality.

At the time there was not much variety in the style of Mexican food served-- it was all either Chihuahua style or the closely related El Paso border style (which had more emphasis on enchiladas and the chile relleno). The big difference was in execution and quality of the food, with small places such as Lupita's and larger restaurants such as Griggs and La Hacienda making me think that I could do quite well by eating out most of the time.


For some reason in 1976 I thought Chico's Tacos was good, and this shows how my tastes have changed over the years.

Casa Jurado was more upscale then most restaurants and had better food, but it was casual enough to go during lunch hour.

Del Camino was the closest thing to what I considered to be a "fine dining" experience in El Paso, although usually people went to Ciudad Juarez for the most upscale food (in El Paso they would go to a steakhouse or a private club).

Forti's opened in Dec. 1976, so this rating would have been shortly after they opened (possibly in early 1977).

Griggs is now closed, but one of its cooks opened Peppe's in Canutillo, serving the Griggs family recipes.

The last time I went to G & R it looked as if the same owners were still running it, and I think it is quite a good candidate for a "culinary treasure" designation. The chile con queso also classifies as a culinary treasure to me.

L & W was somewhat different because it served both Mexican and Chinese food. I liked the Chinese food much better.

La Hacienda was somewhat of a "special experience" restaurant because of the historic building in which it was located (literally a "hacienda") and because it had old-style professional waiters just like in Mexico's high end restaurants. The long running La Hacienda closed around 2004 and the owners retired, but one of the cooks still works at Amigos Restaurant near Montana and Cotton (and the "La Hacienda" food is still served there).

Leo's and La Terraza are owned by the same family, thus the restaurant at 315 Mills has been under continuous ownership even though it changed from Leo's to La Terraza, and then back to Leo's.

Lupita's on Myrtle was something of a Mexican version of a "meat plus three" restaurant because the side dishes were usually delicious tasting vegetables rather than the standard rice and beans. Like many restaurants near downtown and probably throughout the city, it was a small restaurant run by one person who made it feel more like a home cooked meal than restaurant food.

Pancho's on Alameda Ave. was the original restaurant which later developed into a chain, and was the only Pancho's which I considered to have a real Mexican flavor.


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