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Rail Paul

Dining in Ciudad Juarez, El Paso, etc

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The NY Times has an article today about the dining options in Juarez, and nearby El Paso TX or Santa Teresa, NM.


Misión Guadalupe is chic, modern and comfortable. Three alabaster plinths define the space, along with a glowing backlighted bar of the same stone. A cellar beneath the bar holds a fiercely patriotic and reasonably priced array of Mexican wines.


“Mexico always had better wines than Spain,” Sergio Remolina, who was the general manager but has since left, told me. “At independence, the Spaniards burned as many vineyards as they could, to prevent competition on Spanish soil, but over the last 50 years, the wines of Baja California especially have been coming back fast.”


Indeed, the 2002 Santo Tomas barbera we tried was very good and a great value at $30.


We started with a few excellent appetizers: superb smoked marlin in green spinach tortillas, achiote-marinated shrimp panuchos from the Yucatan (tiny deep-fried tacos with mashed black beans) and quesadillas with wonderful huitlacoche (corn fungus). Then came cabrito — succulent kid cooked with wine, lime, jalapeño and avocado, and served on banana leaves — and rare seared salmon with chili, salt and corn relish, and shrimp in adobo (a sauce of dried chili, vinegar, garlic and spices).


But the highlight was the beef tenderloin with chichilo negro (“ashes sauce”), a thick black sauce made with avocado leaves and oja santa, the leaf of the sarsaparilla plant integral to root beer. This is one of the seven moles of Oaxaca, which are in turn just some of Mexico's many different moles.


“Mole is the chief expression of the Baroque epoch in Mexico,” said Alejandro Dimakis, the chef. “The churches of that period are complex and exaggerated — mole, too. Many things go into it.”


Some moles have over 25 ingredients and require that each element be prepared separately before combining (“mole” means something like “blending”). Mr. Dimakis declared that Mexican cuisine had a different language and ingredients from European cooking but is every bit as sophisticated, and his dishes made it hard to disagree.







All prices are for one person, without drinks or tip.


Billy Crews Dining Room, 1200 Country Club Road, Santa Teresa, N.M.; (505) 589-2071; www.billycrews.com. Dinner, $20 to $30. Wines from $15 to $600.


Café Central, 109 North Oregon Street, El Paso; (915) 545-2233; www.cafecentral.com. Lunch, $20 to $35; dinner, $35 to $60. Closed Sunday.


Martino, 643 Avenida Juárez Norte, Ciudad Juárez; (52-656) 612-3370; $15 to $25.


Misión Guadalupe, 445-3 Avenida Jose Reyes Estrada, Pronaf, Juárez; (52-656) 611-2210; $18 to $30.




Choice Tables

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So, my mother was talking about driving down to Juarez while we're in the 'hood. She and my dad used to drive there often, and I guess she wants to relive those times.


Yay or nay? I did a bit of research, and a visit to Juarez would concern me. But I went to Yemen all by myself despite many warnings, and I lived to tell the tale (all pre-ISIS/ISIL, etc.).

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Go to Borderland Beat for up to date info.


My current sense is that staying central in daylight with lots of Federales around is probably ok. But post El-Chapo there has been a bit of a power vacuum....

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I like getting lost in the rain!


We made it to El Paso, but not as far as Juarez because we went to El Paso by accident. We had breakfast at H & H Car Wash and Cafe. Breakfast was delicious! Some of the best food I've had in a while - we had a chile relleno and a breakfast taco with steak.


And the quality of the car wash was also excellent! Except one of the washers stole a whole lot of coins that my mother left in car (which I had told her to remove two days ago. . . ). Well, I guess that washer needed the $5-10 more than we did.


Still I would consider returning for the food. And even for the car wash, although I would empty the car of anything and everything first.


(Deciding to get a car wash was a last minute decision as we were waiting for our breakfast, and we didn't realize it was a full-service car wash, so we were completely unprepared.)

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