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Tia's Mexican & Seafood (Closed)

6110 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX

Tia's Mexican Seafood Restaurant

Tia's has gone through some changes: not only in moving to its new location in early 2004 but also in experimenting with different types of fish after its previous supply from South Africa was cut off. The fish is seasonal, thus the type of fish used for the fillets and fish tacos changes about three or four times per year. A mild, white fish is always used for these dishes, and as far as I know they are all ocean varieties. Shrimp and farm raised trout are also available on the menu, but my review is only for the default variety.

This small family-run operation has several tables, and one thing I enjoy is that the tables are far enough apart so that patrons do not feel crowded. The light sound of Latin music is played in the background, and the restaurant is always comfortable and relaxed.

Appetizers come with every meal
Pico de gallo, fish soup, salsa, and chips

Meals start out with chips and salsa, with the chips being good enough that I usually request a second helping. Instead of the salsa, though, I prefer the home made Pico de Gallo that is usually served only on the customer's request (and you might have had to be a long time customer to know that it is available). One of the bonuses of consulting this web site, though, is that I try to alert people to great food, and the pico de gallo here is one of the best.

The old restaurant used to prominently display jars of whatever aguas frescas were available. Lemonade is usually best, especially when eaten with fish, but this freshly made lemon drink could compete with any of the ones served in El Paso. I have found that the Horchata is quite good as well, but I just do not like it as much with fish dinners. The large jars are not as easy to spot at the new restaurant, but the drinks are still available if you ask for them. When Melón (canteloupe) is available, this is quite good as well.

Fish fillet dinners served Mexican style are the main attraction for most people at Tia's. Filete Veracruzano is usually my favorite at Mexican fish restaurants, but the tomato sauce at Tia's is not very flavoful, and it is lacking vegetables--you probably receive the equivalent of one olive with the order. I seldom have a Mexican filete that is not served with some type of potato and french bread except here, and whether that is a good or a bad thing probably depends on how much of a traditionalist you wish to be. If you are on the Atkins diet, though, this is probably a good thing.

Lemon pepper fish fillet
Lemon pepper fish fillet

The Fillet with Lemon Pepper was suggested to me by the owner, and I found it to be much more enjoyable than the Veracruz style fish. The genius of the lemon pepper fish is probably its simplicity, with the fillet lightly cooked and the seasoning on top that seems just right for the white fish. All fillets have the same disappointing side dishes, but the lemon pepper fish seemed quite good and bargain priced for the quality received.

Fish tacos are one of the specialties at Tia's
Fish tacos are one of the specialties at Tia's

Fish Tacos are a less expensive option than the fillets--the same fish is used in both. The Puerto Vallarta Grill, a west side competitor, probably serves twice as much fish, but Tia's has much better flavor. Ceviche costs extra at Tia's (it is free at Puerto Vallarta Grill), there is no french bread, and the side dishes (white rice and vegetables such as carrots) are disappointing. These are all down sides to eating at Tia's, but the tacos themselves are probably the best on the west side. One of the keys to my enjoyment of the tacos, though, is asking for some pico de gallo to pour inside the tortilla shells giving the meal an extra punch. The fish in El Paso is not the same as can be found on the west or Gulf coast, but the owners here serve what seems to be the best that is available.

Fish soup is provided free with dinners, and is fairly typical of all the ones served in El Paso. The one here is quite spicy, with bites of white fish floating in the broth. Between this and the salsas, I usually get all the spicy food I need before the mild entrée arrives.

I did not find it worthwhile ordering the traditional Mexican dishes here, such as Enchiladas (most other seafood restaurants do not even offer these dishes). When Tia's was across the street from Carnitas Queretaro I usually went there instead for anything other than fish.

Tia's sometimes closes early or is not open to the public because of private parties. On the rare occasions that you find it closed, though, you can go next door to El Taconazo, another small and authentic family-run Mexican restaurant.

Tia's closes at 8:00 p.m. most evenings, but is open an hour later on Fridays. I usually do not include a restaurant's hours because they tend to change frequently, but Tia's has been following this schedule for so long I think it is a pretty safe bet to post it.



Cuisine: Mexican Seafood
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: No
Special Features: Lunch Specials

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Apr. 4, 2008

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Lemon Pepper Fish Fillet, Fish Tacos, Fish Soup, Lemonade, Pico de Gallo

Special Ratings
Lemon Pepper Fillet:
Filete Veracruzano:
Fish Tacos:
Fish Soup:
Pico de Gallo: