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Julio's Cafe Corona

8050 Gateway Blvd. East
El Paso, TX
(915) 591-7676

Julio's Cafe Corona in El Paso

It has been interesting to watch this stretch of Interstate 10 between Yarbrough and Lomaland develop over the years. Julio's Cafe Corona, one of my favorite restaurants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, opened an El Paso branch on the freeway frontage road a number of years ago. This apparently starting a trend with other well known Ciudad Juarez restaurants opening on Gateway East including Villa del Mar several years ago and Shangri-La in 2007. With the exception of the many mom and pop hole-in-the-wall restaurants that can be found in Ciudad Juarez, this group of restaurants represents some of the best food from El Paso's sister city.

Julio's has not been consistently good over the years, especially when I used to eat in the original restaurant near the Pronaf area in Ciudad Juarez. However, the times it failed to live up to expectations led to a bigger than normal disappointment because the general quality of the food was so good. I have found the El Paso location to provide a more consistent level of flavorful Mexican food than its Mexican counterpart. Whether it has individual dishes that are better than the Ciudad Juarez restaurant is hard to say since I have not tried everything at both restaurants. I do think, though, that the original Julio's gives the El Paso restaurant a lot to live up to.

The number of menu items I can review will be limited since I would not attempt to reach back to past visits and try to describe anything that is not fresh in my memory.

Chips and salsa at Julio's
Chips and salsa at Julio's

On a recent visit, though, one of my biggest surprises was the quality of the Salsa. Restaurants in El Paso are consistently good in serving flavorful and fresh salsa to start off a meal. The one at Julio's, though, was unusually flavorful without being so hot it numbed the mouth before the food arrived. Sometimes good restaurants do not put as much effort into the salsa as the main dishes, so the quality of the salsa is not necessarily a good indicator of the food overall. When the salsa is as good as the one at Julio's, though, an excellent meal is likely to follow.

Chicken flautas at Julio's
Chicken flautas at Julio's

The one dish I have been able to sample recently is Chicken Flautas, an order of about nine rolled crispy tortillas filled with chicken and topped with guacamole. Everything about this plate showed the high quality I used to experience in the Ciudad Juarez Julio's restaurant. The shells were thick enough to provide a tortilla flavor and not just corn oil that had been absorbed while cooking. The chicken was good quality; perhaps not the very best in El Paso, but certainly near the top. The guacamole was fresh, thick, flavorful, and a little bit spicy. This is an example of the type of flavorful Mexican food that almost overwhelms the senses, and is becoming all too scarce with the explosion of Mexican restaurants in the city that are trying to compete by offering cheaper prices. Julio's is not terribly expensive, but they charge enough to put the quality into the food that used to be commonplace in the borderland.

I personally do not always like Ciudad Juarez food better than the style that has developed locally just in El Paso and the immediate area. Some of the Ciudad Juarez cooking is more greasy and the chiles are not as good. In the case of flautas, though, having them prepared the traditional way that is found in the better restaurants in the state of Chihuahua is about as good as it gets. Julio's Cafe Corona certainly seems to live up to this expectation.

I think Julio's is also known for some meat dishes and certain other items in addition to the flautas. No restaurant can be the best in everything, but Julio's seems so be one of the better restaurants for a lot of them.

The atmosphere is mid range to upscale, and this is one of several restaurants in town where I think out of town guests would be satisfied experiencing an El Paso style meal. The fact that the recipes are very close to their Mexican roots may make Julio's an even better experience. Julio's certainly does not seem to be lacking from customers in a city that is very particular about its Mexican food.



Cuisine: Mexican Chihuahua
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Additional Location: Triunfo de la Republica 2230, Ciudad Juarez, Chih.
Smoking: No Smoking

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Nov. 19, 2007

Number of Visits: 7

Best Items
Flautas, Salsa

Special Ratings