El Paso, TX

El Paso foodies are coming back in force

Rick Martinez

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

El Paso is one of the best foodie destinations in Texas.

Especially if you have a hankering for legit Mexican food.

However, this all changed when the pandemic hit and restaurants were forced to close their doors indefinitely. So let's take a look at how the industry is recovering from these challenging times and what measures you can take to ensure your fav restaurant recovers too!

Restaurant-related searches in El Paso were up 87% year over year in March 2021 and up 67% compared to January 2020. The most popular local searches were for Chinese restaurants, followed by Mexican and fast-food joints. Among the chains, McDonald's had the most local searches, followed by Subway, Wingstop, and Whataburger.

Also of particular note, El Paso's newly booming restaurant industry has resulted in a severe labor shortage.

Staff shortages are problematic in El Paso, as in many parts of the country, restaurants are picking up as they return to 100% capacity. There is no simple answer, though a much better problem than lockdowns and lack of customers.

Although still not out of the woods, the restaurant industry finally sees the light at the end of a long tunnel.

Although many restaurants are still closed, with some shuttering for good, March 2021 Google data shows record demand from patrons ready to eat out.

Over 133 million Google searches were made in March 2021, according to Google Adwords data for restaurants near me and related terms such as breakfast places near me, Chinese restaurants near me, Taco Bell near me, etc.


Mexican restaurants had the most searches, but no surprise given El Paso's vast array of Mexican food options.

After Mexican food, the top searches were Chinese food and seafood. Right behind was McDonald's, Wingstop and the Texas classic, Whataburger.

Chefspencil.com looked at and evaluated the sheer number of restaurant related searches in the top 50 U.S. cities. The goal was to see who had the highest (and lowest), demand during the pandemic times.

They compared restaurant-related searches from March 2021 to January 2020 (the last standard-length month before the pandemic started).

While not quite number one, El Paso came in in 4th on the list. Customers have flocked to restaurants in El Paso after Texas reopened in early March.

Of course, folks in El Paso would have guessed these results without Google, being that we love our food!

El Paso has some fantastic eateries with plenty of options for anyone, from budget-conscious foodies to food connoisseurs. El Paso residents can't wait for the restaurant scene to get back on its feet yet again, and we're willing to bet you can't either.

While we will do a more in-depth review, here are the top three places searched for in far west Texas.

Café Mayapan

2000 Texas Ave

Serving a delectable array of traditional Mexican cuisine, Café Mayapn has a particular emphasis on Indigenous fare.

Established in 2001, Café Mayapán makes traditional Mexican and serves as a job and food employment training center. They have undertaken a unique course of study not found in other Mexican restaurants; the food they serve is fresh, based on respect for their heritage, and prepared with care for themselves and customers.

The food here is the real deal with Asadero quesadillas, grilled cactus with mushrooms, and others, to name a few.

Cafe Mayapan website

L&J Cafe

3622 E Missouri Ave.

The L&J Cafe is a uniquely flavorful link between El Paso's past and present. Originally known as "Tony's Place," the restaurant opened on the outskirts of El Paso in 1927

One of El Paso's oldest family-run establishments and well-known cafés, L&J's, serves some very tantalizing Mexican food such as green chile enchiladas and fajitas and tacos. The restaurant is located right across from the historic Concordia Cemetery, which provides a fantastic view as you dine on your favorite meal.

Order the combination plate if you want to try a little bit of everything—it comes with crispy tacos, flautas, refried beans, Spanish rice, and enchiladas. Of course, it's best to start with the queso (made from scratch!), spiked with roasted chile strips and a giant frosted marg!

Courtesy of L & J Instagram page

Chico's Tacos

1365 George Dieter Dr.

A classic. Short and simple.

Chico's Tacos has been a Texas institution since the day it opened its doors in 1963. They honored their 50th year with a special ceremony from the state legislature and heavily featured publications across town (and even nationally). Their signature dish—flour tortillas dipped in tomato salsa then covered in cheese—is popular among locals.

They're delightfully greasy, but they absolutely hit the spot, every time.

Chico's Tacos Instagram page

Now all you have to do is get here!

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I'm a freelance writer and a nurse, exploring the world one beer, donut, and experience at a time. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare, with the occasional emphasis on donuts. #NomNom

San Antonio, TX

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