In West Texas, between the state of New Mexico and Mexico proper, El Paso is a cultural crossroads with a culinary scene to match. From authentic southern steakhouses and Tex-Mex restaurants to inventive new restaurants, get a taste of what this border town offers with our top ten picks.
A fine restaurant and a worthy cause, Café Mayapán is part of a social enterprise that champions regional Mexican cuisine while providing training and employment to women from underprivileged neighbourhoods in El Paso.
The menu changes with the seasons, offering classic dishes like chilesennogada and mole poblano, made with local ingredients. Special events, such as Semana Santa and the September corn festival, are also held. There are regular workshops and exhibitions exploring Mexican culture and cuisine at the on-site mercado (market).
Café Mayapán is also eco-conscious: everything left over from the restaurant is turned into compost for a community garden project.
Elegant Café Central opened its doors in 1918 in Juárez, across the border from Mexico. After a series of transformations and relocations, it was established on El Paso’s Oregon Street and has since become one of the best luxury options in the city.
The perfect place to have a drink until late at night is an outdoor terrace, a well-stocked bar and a careful wine list that has won numerous awards in the restaurant. The menu is equally tempting, with standout dishes including cream of green chilli soup and rack roast of Colorado lamb. Cultivated and refined, it offers live jazz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights between 6.30 and 10 pm.
Zino’s Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine
If you’re tired of Tex-Mex, Zino’s Greek cuisine is a breath of fresh air. One of El Paso’s most beloved restaurants, it’s known for its vibrant salads dressed with herby olive oil and salty feta, lentil soups, and gyros made with fresh pita.
There are also crispy falafels and delicious sauces and appetizers, from hummus to baba ganoush and stuffed grape leaves to calamari. With sticky baklava for dessert, you can tour the Peloponnese in one sitting, just like chef ZinoSouikni did. A great introduction to the culinary culture of Greece, the Zino look will be an El Paso favourite for years to come.
Just 20 miles from town, Cattleman’s Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs Ranch is considered one of the best in the country. From the house rib eye to the ‘Cowboy’ tandem, which weighs in at a respectable two pounds, everything is cooked to perfection, with char marks from the grill.
Seafood options include cold-water lobster and shrimp, with sticky grilled ribs cooked in the restaurant’s old-fashioned mesquite wood smoker, a highlight.
The ranch is spectacular in itself and dotted with old wagons, outhouses, and herds of longhorn cattle. Its expansive views of the desert and rocky plateaus have set the setting for several Hollywood productions.
Texan-style tapas sharing plates are the order of the day in this modern warehouse conversion. There’s a clear nod to Spain with dishes like paella and meatballs with chorizo and Manchego cheese. Still, Tabla offers clever combinations, including chickpea fries with chipotle ketchup, Moroccan spices, and ribs with apricot and almonds.
Desserts are equally inventive, from sweet potato doughnuts with maple syrup to arroz con leche (Spanish rice pudding) accompanied by hazelnuts and raisins. In the heart of downtown El Paso, the restaurant is just a short walk from the city’s many cultural centres, such as the Abraham Chavez Theater and the El Paso Museum of Art.