Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with InterContinental Hotels Group. As always, all experiences and opinions are my own.
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.
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 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’m making plans to check out all the best tacos in the city. I’ll be visiting for Taco Tuesday, Taco Wednesday, and probably Taco Thursday, and I’ll be booking one of the many fine IHG hotels in 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 places to choose from, so you’ll need to stay a couple of days to truly experience this great taco town!
No taco trip to El Paso is complete without a visit to the grandaddy 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!
There are four locations, but the original is at 4230 Alameda Ave.
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.
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.
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.
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 adobado 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.
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?