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State Line

1222 Sunland Park Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 581-3371

El Paso is not a place known for upscale fine dining, so the popular "special occasion" restaurants tend to be the more casual eateries-- Mexican food, barbecue, etc. One place that does a brisk business is The State Line, the westernmost branch of the County Line "mini-chain" of barbecue restaurants based in Austin.

This restaurant is literally on the state line-- the kitchen is in New Mexico (thus you pay the lower New Mexico sales tax) and the bar is in Texas (thus it is subject to the more liberal Texas liquor laws). Anyway, it's all legal, and you get some excellent food to boot.

Having lived in Austin I know that State Line (it is known as County Line in Austin) does not serve the absolute best Brisket that exists, but it's pretty close. What is really remarkable here is the sauce-- it is just an awesome barbecue sauce. I don't think I've had a better sauce anywhere. There are other places in El Paso, both that I have visited and that others have recommended, that may be better for brisket. State Line is never a bad choice, though, when it comes to anything related to barbecue.

Turkey is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when ordering barbecue, but the one at State Line is about the best I have found. Compared to Smokey's Pit Stop and Rudy's (a couple of local places where I have tried the turkey), I think State Line comes out on top. I know beef is more traditional for Texas, but State Line is one place where I think many people will be satisfied by breaking the tradition.

Beef and pork ribs
Combination order of ribs with beef (on top) and pork (on bottom)

The Beef Ribs are State Line's claim to fame locally, with many people saying they are the best in El Paso. I thought they had a little too much gristle, and while they were slow cooked, were not as tender as ones I have had in other cities. While I cannot tell people these are the best ribs in the United States, I think they are worthwhile, especially since the sauce is so good. They are certainly large enough to be filling.

Pork Ribs can be ordered as a dinner or on a combination plate with the beef ribs. I found these to be less flavorful than the beef, and probably not the restaurant's specialty. Like all the barbecue here, though, it was good.

Side dishes are surprisingly good for a barbecue restaurant-- usually places don't put much effort into them. The beans were the best side dish I tried. This is probably the only potato salad I've ever had made with mayonnaise that I would rate with five stars. The cole slaw was not memorable but was good. All side dishes, along with the bread, are served family style, and customers can get second helpings at no extra charge.

The main problem with State Line is that it's always crowded, and I would also classify it as a little overpriced (although you do have to pay for El Paso's version of "fine dining"). The barbecue is better than most, though, and many people do not mind paying the prices here.

I have heard other opinions that State Line has gone downhill, and I do not think the ribs are as good as I remember in the past. The brisket was good the last time I tried it, but that was several years ago. All of the food here is better than in the majority of barbecue restaurants, but I am not sure that I would call State Line one of Texas' dining "meccas" about which books are written (or that it would ever have been considered as such). It still serves very good meals, though, if you like slow cooked meat.



Cuisine: Barbecue
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Additional Locations: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Garland, Albuquerque
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit
Apr. 17, 2008

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Brisket, Beef Ribs, Beans

Special Ratings
Beef Ribs:
Pork Ribs:
Turkey Breast:
Potato Salad:
Cole Slaw:

Restaurant Web Site
State Line