Down in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with...tacos, burritos y mas! Yes, we did go on the taco hunt, even if we had to make them on the spot (i.e. cut burrito in half, unroll and fold it over). And no, we did not hit up Chico's Tacos. This was the off the beaten path taco hunt. Yes, even El Paso has mainstream taco and burritos joints like H&H and L&J and Lucky's Cafe. Along the way, I was able to connect with El Paso Times food writer & only one of five bloggers (probably) in EPT (#sarcasm), Lucia Dura, aka Dura y Segura! We both hit up the first taquerias on our own (see Cachito's food truck hits the spot) then we joined forces for a taco hunt worthy enough to rub manteca all over your belly!
The first place I tried was The Lunch Box. Sounds very American doesn't it? It was recommend by an old school friend, Susie Favela. The Lunch Box is a very simple place with a few decorations but the main attractions were the chicken tacos, the tortilla in a box lady display and the musico soundtrack singer accompanied by double keyboard. See what I mean??
I ordered the "can I get a heart attaaaack!" queso fundido with chorizo. While it was quite delicious, it was equally hard to swallow. Okay not that much. Now for the chicken tacos. These were true El Paso style tacos; fried corn tortillas (no ready made shells here), pulled chicken, probably boiled in water, condiments - lettuce, tomato and an El Paso staple, Muenster Cheese. Good tacos, although I prefer a few more espices on my chicken or shicken as El Paso likes to pronounce it. I'm also trying to see how many times I can say or type El Paso in one post. El Paso!
The Lunch Box - 3 Stars
667 North Carolina Drive
El Paso, TX
Local rec's only was our motto for the taco hunt. So I got on Faybuk & Tuiter and surveyed my El Chuco conexiones. Our next stop come up as a must go to since 1) it was a doubly credible source - Brie Franco and her pops, 2) it was old school since 1953 and 3) they still use manteca (lard)! The place - Moe's Restaurant. As Lucia and I started to get acquainted and were getting deep into our conversations of community, culture and food, we couldn't resist the "efferfecent exhale of the lard" coming from our mouths as we ate the tostadas/chips and salsa. We knew we were in an old school joint becasue of the manteca and the hair bobby lady at the cash register. We ordered a carnitas plate with rice and beans and a chile relleno burrito. The carnitas came out really crispy, a bit dry but still good. The burrito was good too. You can't go wrong with Hatch or Anaheim that's super stuffed with Muenster cheese. And what's up with the Muenster cheese? Sheese, everybody eats it over here! Anyjuays, what blew us away was the beans. I think we found the holy trinity of beans, cooked with Mexican chorizo, bacon and possibly manteca. We left with an extra fatty layer in our mouths but muy satisfied.
Moe's Restaurant 3.25 Stars
El Paso, TX
Our "off the beaten path" journey took us to the Mission Trail in Socorro aka SocoLoco homes! Part of the deep Lower Valley, past the Wal-Mart and Whataburger on Americas on Socorro Road, you'll find old Mission, taquerias, peluquerias (hair salons) and casas still made out of adobe. We were drawn by fried turkey butts or tails (colitas de pavo) at Doña Chole's and tacos de carne asada at Taco X Cuatro which is also code name to not have to pay la mordida in Mexico; X Cuatro, remember that!
It took us a while to locate this Doña Chole's place but we finally found it and we were almost at capacity since the place only seated 6 people. We made it and ordered the special of the house - one colita de pavo for a whopping $1.00! It comes on a freshly made corn tortilla and red salsa - chile de arbol. While a turkey butt isn't as good looking as a wing or breast, it did please my taste buds. Juicy, crispy and accompanied with the smoothness of the tortilla and salsa, it made me want to go back for more. So yes, we would go back just for the colitas.
Doña Chole - 3.5
605 Fray Vargas Court
Our last stop was at Tacos X Cuatro. The place had a fun and festive feel to it, rancho style. They too had a musico soundtrack singer and he knew all the hits from JuanGa to El Chente. We ordered the mixed taco plate which had carnitas, carne asada, al pastor and tripitas. We requested the tripitas to be prepared extra crispy porque nos da cosa when they're chewy. We were entertained by nuestro musico while our tacos were being prepared but unfortanatley, it was not worth the wait. The meats were very dry and tasted like they've been sitting around since last week. Plus the tripitas tasted like an old mangera or a hard chewy piece of plastico. No bueno!
Tacos X Cuatro - 2 Stars
9618 Socorro Rd.
So there it is, our El Paso Taco Hunt. It was a good time, we laughed, we cried and we said we'd do it again! Big time props to Lucia for coming out and eating tacos like she's never eaten them before! Until next time, stay hungry my friends!
Lucia and Mando eating tacos like there's no tomorrow!
El Mundo de Mando