H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop
Potato and Egg:
Put aside the fact that H&H is a half-century-old restaurant/car wash whose co-owner, Maynard Haddad, is a supreme grouch (if one with a soft heart). Ignore the time-scuffed Formica tabletops and the aging counter stools. Then strip away the dizzying array of memorabilia. Even without those elements, H&H would still remain a pilgrimage-TopTacoworthy destination. Here in West Texas burrito country, it is an oasis for lovers of breakfast tacos. You can’t go wrong with the bacon and egg or the carne picada, but it’s the litmus-test potato and egg that truly wows. Whereas most versions have mushy, bland potatoes that no amount of seasoning can salvage, at H&H the starchy cubes, crisped on the corners and pillowy in the middle, are damn near perfect. The eggs, scrambled and hot off the stove, need no salt, and the flour tortillas are griddle-toasted. Caught up in the moment, you may just forget you came to have your car washed. Instead you’ll likely find yourself bemoaning how far El Paso is from the rest of the state.
At this local chain’s four outposts, chunks of pork slowly cooked in lard come out glistening and sweet in delicate house-made corn tortillas. Smoky chile de árbol salsa adds zing.
Tender as your mama’s pot roast, the shredded brisket comes in a freshly fried tortilla that’s sprinkled with russet-hued seasoning salt. Cabbage ribbons and avocado wedges keep it interesting, while grated Muenster—a local substitute for Tex-Mex’s yellow cheese—gives it an El Paso signature.
Flores Meat Market & Restaurant
Colitas de Pavo:
At this restaurant/butcher/tortilla factory, the options are many, but the taco that stands out is the copper-toned colitas de pavo (fried turkey tails). Crunchy and brightened by lime, cilantro, and onion, it’s a fun choice that’ll stretch your, ahem, wings.
Silky beef with a touch of gaminess sets Tony’s barbacoa apart from the mob of bakeries, mini-marts, tortillerias, and drive-throughs doling out innumerable pounds of the meat. At $6.99 for four tacos, it’s a bargain too.
Sofi's Mexican Restaurant
“Alambre” means “wire,” and this mixed-meat filling is named for the skewer on which it was once traditionally cooked. Sofi’s version combines grilled beef, soft bacon, and sweet bell peppers (red, green, yellow) under a lacy cap of melted Muenster.
You might be put off by the idea of offal in a taco, but at this little hut, the tripitas—fried bovine intestine—are as crisp as pork rinds and just as savory. Trust us.
Avila's Mexican Food
With its ornate Mexican tiles and hand-carved wooden sculptures of saints, Avila’s has been an El Paso institution since 1952, offering border cuisine favorites to multiple generations of local families. (Some servers have been on staff for more than forty years.) What keeps customers coming back? One item is the excellent picadillo taco: spicy ground beef studded with potatoes and chiles in a crisped-to-order hard-shell tortilla. It has snap but doesn’t crumble at the first—or second—bite, and the white cheddar, lettuce, and tomatoes that cap the meat aren’t frigid but served at room temperature (the lettuce is even crisp!). It’s a wonderful take on a Tex-Mex classic.
Flautas in a taco story? Absolutely. In Mexico, tacos come rolled as well as folded. And El Paso’s famed rolled tacos get a new spin at this gourmet food truck gone brick-and-mortar. Corn tortillas are filled with your choice of sirloin, chicken, pork, or tofu, then formed into flutes and fried before being “drowned” in a tomatillo-based salsa verde. Oaxacan crema ups the tartness, while queso fresco and asadero add a salty kick.