Friday, January 10, 2020

El Paso, Texas Guide

A few weeks ago my family and I traveled to El Paso for the Sun Bowl — and because we had never been but have always wanted to visit the far west Texas city. And boy were we not disappointed. Between plenty of history, delicious eats and lots to do this gem of the west is great for a long weekend visit. Read on to find out what to do, where to eat and what day trip you should take — xoxo darling, Hayden.

What To Do:

Downtown El Paso

I don't think visiting a city is complete without doing a thorough walkthrough of it's downtown. You don't even have to stop anywhere, just walk around and see all the different buildings, murals, etc. El Paso has amazing architecture styles from art deco to modern. Start at San Jacinto Plaza and work your way around.
There are lots of pretty murals in downtown.
San Jacinto Plaza is lit up with so many lights during the holiday season.

El Paso Museum of History

Good exhibits and a lot of info on the history of El Paso and its residents, this museum located in downtown is a good jumping off point if you don't know anything about El Paso and are looking to learn about it. 

 Magoffin Home State Historic Site

Maybe my favorite thing we did in El Paso — aside from the incredible food — was the Magoffin home. It's an excellent example of Adobe architecture and just so dang pretty. I would love to live in a modern version of this house. Plus, the family history alone is worth the visit. You do need to take a tour to see the inside of the house, but they do it every hour and half hour at the visitor's center. 

Scenic Drive

Who doesn't like a scenic drive? Especially when it's literally labeled "Scenic Drive" on all maps. But truly, this road is special. On Sunday mornings its closed for walk-only traffic but any other time you can drive the entire thing. From the viewing platform you can see all of El Paso and Juarez, plus further on a clear day. Be forewarned, it's incredibly windy up there! 

El Paso Star

Lit up every night by local El Pasoans, this star can be seen from pretty much anywhere in El Paso. We went to the intersection Texas and Alameda Avenue for the photo above — which, was shot on an iPhone so it is a little blurry.

El Paso Streetcar

One of the main reasons why my dad and I wanted to go to El Paso was because we read an article a while back about these streetcars. Used back in the 1950s, they came out of service, sat in the desert and then were reintroduced recently. They sent them all the way to Pennsylvania to get restored and you would have no idea they were so old, if you stepped inside. We rode the whole loop, it goes downtown and up to UTEP, and it was so fun. They are done up in different colors so each one is perfect for the 'gram. 

 University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Campus

A trip to El Paso would not be complete without taking a walk through UTEP's campus. It's like no other college campus I've been on before because the buildings are done in a Bhutan-style. There's even a temple in the middle. You can read about the history and why they chose this style here. But definitely take a walk for the beauty and the steps. 

Sun Bowl

While I realize my trip to El Paso was based around the Sun Bowl, I do think it's a cool place to visit even if you aren't going for a game. It's one of the oldest college football games in the U.S. (tied for no. 2) and it's in a beautiful setting. If you see the photo above, it sits in-between these mountains, in a bowl form. If you're visiting EP in the fall, try to get to a UTEP game, because it'll just be pure fun. 

Where to eat & drink: 

Crave

Crave was highly recommended by an El Paso-native, there are multiple locations, we went to the one at the Fountains. The wait was a little crazy, so we sat at the bar, which worked out. They served up strong coffee and everything we tried was good. I highly recommend the Big Breakfast Bowl and the No Brainer sandwich. 

Salt + Honey

Okay, so I read about this place and then everyone suggested it and I joked about seeing Beto O'Rourke at one of these places and then who walks in...BETO! I was shook. I didn't ask for a photo because he was eating and having a really serious convo, but still, you might see Beto if you visit Salt + Honey. Aside from that, it's super Instagramable and all of the food looked good. We all had the Mother Clucker — beer-battered chicken, buttermilk biscuits, greens, pickle, red-pepper honey. It was good but SO MUCH, so come hungry. 

 L & J Cafe

An El Paso classic, L & J seems to always be packed...to the point where people with empty lots sell parking to visitors. We got a spot on the street, although we did have to wait about five minutes for someone to leave. The wait when we got in was about one hour — but we grabbed seats at the bar and were immediately served. The salsa and tostadas are perfection, skip the queso. Then have tacos, because they're delightful. Also, the beers are huge and the margaritas looked good too. 

Joe Vinny & Bronsons Bohemian Cafe

This came highly recommended by one of my friends — we ended up meeting up for dinner here — and it didn't disappoint. They have plenty of vegetarian options if you lean that way. I had the ham & cheese, it comes with pickled jalapeños. You must-get the 420 fries, which are topped with feta, tomato, cilantro and mozzarella.

 Cattleman's Steakhouse

I first heard about Cattleman's about a year ago and the only things I heard were good. Then when I asked two friends who lived in El Paso where to go, this made both their lists. And let me tell you, it's worth the approx. 30 minute drive out to the ranch. The place is like any good, kitchy restaurant experience. It's OTT Texas, in the best ways possible. The steaks range from normal to massive — but so freaking delicious — and the sides are family style. Since getting back from our trip, my family and I have talked about our steaks about 30 times...at the time of posting this, we've been home for less than two weeks. Also, the chocolate cake is perfectly moist and a great way to end your trip. The place gets insane, if you can tell by the amount of waiting space but we went on a Sunday night and got a table immediately. If you can, go when it's daylight because you can explore the ranch too. 

District Coffee Co.

I arrived to EP way before my family, so I decided to check out downtown and some local coffee shops in order to get some work done. My first stop was District, and it's that adorable coffee shop we all wish we had growing up. From the tiles that leak from the bar to the floor, to the friendly baristas, it's perfect. I had an eggnog latte — I was there just after Christmas. They had pretty good wifi, and plenty of different seating options. 

Coffee Box

Love this spot because it's so unique! It's made of two shipping containers and while the downstairs is tiny, the wifi is strong and the coffee is good. It was cold when I was in EP so I snagged the last table inside to get my work done but you could also grab the coffee to-go and walk around San Jacinto Plaza and the rest of downtown. 

El Paso Brewing Co.

I love the logo of this one and it feels probably the most traditional. It's on the east side of town and they have plenty of beers so there will be something for everyone in your party. I liked the Sun City Helles Lager and the fam liked the Pa'Chugo Pale Ale. 

DeadBeach Brewery

 DeadBeach is an interesting spot. It's downtown, near the baseball stadium but it doesn't feel like a craft brewery when you walk in. It's not in a warehouse, it honestly feels more like a really clean, cool dive bar. The beer is good — they had a special that was Die Hard-themed that my dad loved. 

Blazing Tree Brewery

Located on the east side of town, Blazing Tree is doing amazing things with a tiny brewing system. The manager was incredibly nice, gave us a tour, had us try things, just overall super friendly. I really liked their fruity beers, which is not normally what I go for but it was great. 

Day Trip:

Las Cruces, New Mexico is only an hour drive from downtown El Paso. It's worth a visit for their craft beer scene, a tour of New Mexico State and a visit to White Sands National Park.

When looking at a map of El Paso, I saw that White Sands was only about an hour-and-a-half away and I kind of forced my parents to go. I just had no idea when we would be back in that part of the country again. And let me tell you, it's totally worth the drive. First of all, it just became a national park — formerly a national monument. Second of all, it's just beautiful. It doesn't make sense when you're there surrounded by desert mountains but it is breathtaking. They also let you climb all over the dunes, so bring a trashcan lid and go crazy. We lucked out on a beautiful day, but I think most days are beautiful.

Caliche's

I'm a sucker for frozen custard, I grew up eating it in Fort Myers, so when I saw there was a local chain of custard places in Las Cruces, I forced my parents to go. We weren't disappointed, these pink-painted buildings serve up some sweet delights. I got a mint caliche (like a blizzard) with oreos, vanilla custard and chocolate chips. Super good! 

Spotted Dog Brewery

Spotted Dog's cheese plate is why you should visit. Truly, it's amazing. It comes with multiple cheeses, cheese dip, pretzel rolls and sausages. We loved it! 

High Desert Brewing Company

BuzzFeed ranked High Desert's nachos in the top 50 in the country, so you can imagine I forced them on my parents. And holy moly!!! They come piled high with jalapeños, a spicy salsa, cheese and tons of sour cream. It comes in multiple sizes but we got the small and couldn't finish with three people. The beer is good too, but truly it's like a side to the nachos.

Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery

Little Toad is in downtown Las Cruces, it has a cool vibe and they have a lot of beer options. I had their version of Blue Moon and I liked it. They also do live music, so if you like that, it's for you!

Bosque Brewing

After driving around New Mexico State's campus we ended up at Bosque, who's beer is good and who has a good taproom. The bartenders are super nice too!

1 comment:

  1. El Paso looks gorgeous and looks like it has a ton of great food!
    Xo, Kelsey
    www.petiteinherheels.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete