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Best Tacos in El Paso

I grew up an Army brat moving every two or three years to a new state or a new country. I don’t remember all the details about every place I lived, but I do have fragments that make for a really great childhood full of fond memories. Given my devout interest in all things food, it would probably not surprise you that a lot of my memories are associated with local cuisines.

When I was around 7, my family moved to El Paso. I remember how different the desert landscapes were compared to the tropical green and wet of Panama where we had lived previously. I remember my first experience with chihuahuas, as our next-door neighbors had a gang of them. I remember learning to write poetry in school and taking a shine to it. I remember cooking bologna in my Easy Bake oven. But most of all I remember crispy tacos and soft, warm sopapillas from Pancho Villas in El Paso.

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There may be other more famous taco cities in the country, but El Paso is OG. Its border location has heavily influenced the taco scene. Tacos are the gateway food for all Mexican cuisine. Generations of mamas, tías, and abuelas have honed their taco recipes in El Paso, adjusting spices, changing ingredients, and experimenting with the form factor, all to the benefit of locals and visitors alike.

Now that I’m living in the Southwest, El Paso is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. I’ve checked out all the best tacos in the city. I’ll be visiting for Taco Tuesday, Taco Wednesday, and probably Taco Thursday, and I’ll staying a few more days El Paso from which I’ll be perfectly situated to try out what I think are the top tacos in Texas. There are a lot of restaurants to choose from, so you’ll need to stay a couple of days to truly experience this great taco town!

El Paso Restaurants - Taco Version
Image via Flickr by SimplyAIM.

Chico’s Tacos

No taco trip to El Paso is complete without a visit to the granddaddy of them all, Chico’s Tacos. You’ve got to start with the classic that has been around since 1953. The much-beloved original spot on Alameda still serves three tacos for cheap with a closely guarded secret sauce and a mound of cheese. Given its tenure in the city, there is an intense debate surrounding this taco legend. You’ll just have to try it out to see for yourself!

[Update: some locals have indicated they aren’t a fan. The quality may have gone down since this post was originally written!]

There are four locations, but the original is at 4230 Alameda Ave.

Tony’s Barbacoa

Barbecue is king in Texas, and when it comes to tacos, that means barbacoa. This delicious taco filling is slow-roasted meat with lots of spices. Traditionally it’s meat from a cow’s head, but nowadays you can also find lamb and pork. One of the best in town is Tony’s Barbacoa served with onions, cilantro, and salsa.

Tony’s Barbacoa is located at 12370 Edgemere Boulevard.

Tacos Chinampa

I’m a big fan of double tacos, meaning tacos served with two shells, either two corn or sometimes one corn and one flour tortilla. The absolute best is when the tortillas are made fresh like they are at Tacos Chinampa. The chicken tacos are fantastic, and there’s a great salsa bar. Don’t mind the strange addition of a baked potato with your order!

Tacos Chinampa is located at 6110 Gateway East Boulevard.

Kiki’s Restaurant

Seafood tacos in Texas do exist, and you can find some of the best in El Paso at Kiki’s Restaurant. It may sound strange, but the imitation crab-stuffed tacos with white and yellow cheeses and housemade spicy salsa is a combination you should definitely not miss.

Kiki’s Restaurant is located at 2719 North Piedras Street.

H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop

Tacos for breakfast? You betcha! Breakfast tacos at a car wash? Right again! The potato and egg breakfast tacos were voted the best overall taco in El Paso by readers in a 2015 poll in Texas Monthly magazine. That says something, considering all the other types of tacos there are in the region. Go for the classic egg and potato, and you won’t mind the fact that you are eating it in a car wash!

H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop is located at 701 East Yandell Drive.

El Paso Restaurants - Taco Version 3
Image via Flickr by stu_spivack.

TacoHolics

You can’t talk about tacos without mentioning taco trucks. There are a lot of them in El Paso. One of them, TacoHolics, is a very popular food truck that serves great tacos with classic meats, but I think you should try the pork adobo with Korean barbecue seasoning, as it’s not to be missed. What happens when you roll a taco? You get a flauta, and TacoHolics serves some of the best in town with queso fresco, Oaxacan crema, and a spicy green sauce.

TacoHolics is usually located at 1613 North Zaragoza Road #201.

More Reader Favorites

As with most food items, everyone has an opinion and a favorite! It’s the same thing when it comes to burgers – my Dad and I will argue until the ends of the Earth about his favorite versus mine! I decided to list some additional recommendations for readers who were kind enough to leave them. I haven’t tried them, but on my next trip, I have to do Taco Tasting Round 2 (and maybe 3, 4…)!

From Dwight who wrote that he was born and raised in EP; I live in Garland, a suburb of Dallas. These are the places I try to get when I visit home:

  • L&J Cafe—good tacos, good gorditas, good authentic Mexican food.
  • Lucy’s—same as above
  • Ernesto’s Cafe—same as above
  • Carlos and Mickey’s—same as above
  • McCorys—don’t know if it’s still open, good tacos

From Dori: Taconeta tacos are the best! Really recommend you try them. The suadero taco is my personal favorite but they are all so good even the vegetarian taco is to die for!
From Peter R: Good Luck Cafe!!!! A definite #1 in my book!!!
From Charles K: chicken tacos at Don Carbon hit the spot. (Kevin also recommended this spot!) He also let me know that I should have had the tacos al pastor at Tacos Chinampa instead of the chicken!
From Sebastien: Try Taconeta.
From Karen: I have only had tacos from Chicos Tacos. Very delicious, however, there are two other places where you can also get delicious rolled tacos Fat Bear & Fat Bun. 
From Joshua: Gorditas from Delicious!

Tacos

How’s that for some top tacos? No visit to El Paso is complete without a visit to at least one of the spots I’ve listed, but you really can’t go wrong anywhere in the taco capital of America. Of course, there are a lot of other things to do in El Paso, too. With sporting events, hiking in the Franklin Mountains, visiting museums, and getting a view of the whole city from the Wyler Aerial Tramway, you won’t be bored between tacos.

How about you? Have you had tacos in El Paso? What was your favorite? Have I inspired you to visit El Paso to check them out?

For a visual summary of this post, check out my El Paso tacos web story!

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64 Comments

  1. These tacos sound so good. I love tacos. I am happy you got to enjoy these there. God Bless

  2. I got called to go to White Sands Missile Range every so often during the developmental tasting phase of something I working on. We would slip down to Texas for dinner after our shift was over. Usually, we would just stop at Anthony’s at exit 1, but occasionally, we would push deeper into El Paso. We weren’t disappointed either. It’s hard to find border towns that are as equally yoked as El Paso and Jaurez. El Paso shared culture and identity from it’s sister city across the river. I imagine that the taco scene there is outstanding and you gave me quite a few options to work with. We have a Car Wash restaurant in TJ that is famous for its tortas. The car wash went out of business thirty years ago but the tortas stand is still going strong.

  3. I live in Houston and do road trips around the state fairly frequently — and I like El Paso. And I LOVE tacos! So when I get out there the next time, I’ll use your list to make the taco rounds. Thanks!

  4. I loved reading of your impressions of El Paso after living in Panama. Two places I haven’t been.

    I’ve never had a taco I didn’t like. Doing a Taco Tour would be delicious!

  5. It’s wonderful when food can elicit a warm memory for you. I love tacos! I went on a taco tour in Mexico, would love to do the same in El Paso and experience all of your recommendations! Yum!

  6. WOW! I’m drooling while reading about all the delicious tacos you described. Baked potato is quite an interesting topping – I gotta try that if I get a chance! Crab-stuffed tacos sound fantastic too!

  7. Your comment about Taco Tuesday, Taco Wednesday, and Taco Thursday made me laugh!! 🙂 Though for me it’s usually Taco Mondays — no idea why, but that seems to be the day we order tacos the most. A great way to start the week! I’ve been to many parts of Texas, but never to El Paso, so I’ll have to rectify that. I had no idea you lived in Panama before — that’s incredible! Will have to see if you have Panama posts too. Looking forward to learning more about El Paso from you!

  8. Tacos at a car wash? Interesting place to eat haha but I’m game as long as the tacos are good! I’ve never been to El Paso but we had tacos in Belize last year. I don’t think they’re the same kind because the tacos there are more like taquitos in the States, but we’ll be going to PVR later this year so hopefully I’ll get to try this kind!

  9. I love tacos, but here in Edmonton, Alberta we get a very mild form ..nothing at all like the true Tex/Mex

  10. I’ve spent a lot of the last two years in Mexico, so I am taco obsessed. But I haven’t spent a lot of time in the north of the country or in Texas, so I’d be really curious to test out the taco differences! The barbacoa sounds amazing as well as the pork adobado with Korean seasoning – how interesting!

  11. This is making me hungry. I love a good taco! I was in El Paso once, but don’t remember any memorable tacos. I will have to visit again!

  12. Chico’s tacos serve the worst example of tacos that I have ever sampled. They are served in a bath of grease and salt. If you want to be a poster child for bad health. Keep eating Chicos tacos.

    For a great tasting taco here in El Paso, that is also healthy. Go to Don Carbon.
    Everything at Don Carbon, is Mesquite grilled. Lots of flavors,
    the tortillas are hand made, and,
    the Salsa is outstanding.

    1. @Kevin, thanks for the review of Chico’s looks like I will need to update this post, based on that info, I am not one for excessive grease! I will check out Don Carbon – sounds delish!

  13. I live in Boston at the moment but my lovely girl lives in texas El Paso and she has taken me into all these places and more with Covid I haven’t gone up there i can’t wait to go agin into these places agin I love El Paso people are very nice .. soon I’ll be living over there .. soon I can say bye bye my home state Boston Ma.

  14. I have some serious questions about this list, but the biggest one has to be about why you would recommend the chicken tacos from Tacos Chinampa instead of the tacos al pastor that they’re famous for???

    1. @Charles, hi there, thanks for taking the time to comment, would love to hear other suggestions. Tacos al pastor is actually my favorite, but I only tried the chicken, however, I will gladly update Tacos Chinampa to include your recommendation!

  15. I have only had tacos from Chicos Tacos. Very delicious, however there are two other places where you can also get delicious rolled tacos Fat Bear & Fat Bun. I frequently go to Fat Bear since it’s basically right down the road from my house. It’s located on Dyer St next to Jack in the box.

    1. @Leo, I wish you had left your real email address so you’d get this, but anyway, food is very subjective and I welcome hearty discussion! As it turns out a little people seem to be unhappy with Chico’s so I am going to update the post with a note – thanks for taking the time to comment!

  16. Taconeta tacos are the best! Really recommend you try them. The suadero taco is my personal favorite but they are all so good even the vegetarian taco is to die for!

  17. L&J Cafe—good tacos, good gorditas, good authentic Mexican food.

    Lucy’s—same as above
    Ernesto’s Cafe—same as above
    Carlos and Mickey’s—same as above
    McCorys—don’t know if it’s still open
    Good tacos
    I was born and raised in EP; I live in Garland, a suburb of Dallas. Those places listed above are where I try to get when I visit home.

  18. Cross the Stanton street bridge into Juarez. Make a right onto Colon street. Go to the end of the block, left corner …. Step in to savor the Best Tacos al pastor Ever !! I don’t know the name of the place. I called it ” the hole in the wall”. They only sell tacos !! And the salsas are to die for !! That is if it is still there! Last time I went was about 25 years ago !! Also downtown El Paso on Stanton st ( across from Sam’s Toys to the left) turkey tails and gorditas !!! I miss El Paso FOOD!🌶️

    1. @Shari, when my family used to go into Juarez from EP we ate in many places like this, but it was SO long ago I don’t remember, I just remember GOOD 😉