Cajun meets the border on the menu at Mac’s Place

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EL PASO — From steaming jambalaya to blackened salmon, Mac’s Place introduced Cajun-inspired cuisine to El Paso’s downtown dining scene.

The Louisiana style restaurant, co-owned by Gregory Wayne and Gelaine Apuan, offers an alternative to the usual Hispanic food, with their collection of homemade spices.

“It’s a different kind of spice that people aren’t used to here, people are used to jalapeno or siracha,” Apuan said. “It’s a lip burning, oh-my-goodness spice where oh, I just can’t stop eating it.”

Like other entrepreneurs in the El Paso area, Apuan and her partner decided to roll the dice and open up Mac’s place on the East side in 2012. After a few years in the business they decided to expand the restaurant to their newest location downtown near San Jacinto Plaza and have now been operating that location for more than a year.

“I have a partner and we’re just two old people that like to eat and we like to cook,” Apuan said. “I worked in corporate America and he worked in corporate America and we said let’s go for it.”

Exterior Mac's Place restaurant

Photo by Danielle Miller, Journalism in July

Their Louisiana style menu ranges from gumbo to blackened salmon and from jambalaya to clam chowder. As you walk in, the first thing your eyes will be drawn to is the rustic menu board. It features the day’s specials written in white chalk.

“We serve different types of food, a lot of the food that we serve is Cajun inspired,” Apuan said.

That Cajun taste is what many customers enjoy. Some employees that work downtown go to Mac’s Place more than once a week to enjoy some of their favorite meals. Bruce Collins, a regular customer at the restaurant, makes his weekly stop during his lunch break.

“They have a Cajun flavor that you normally don’t get in El Paso,” Collins said. “So I just appreciate the chance to step back into a New Orleans Cajun flavor and Mac’s is the place to get that.”

Not only being able to get your Louisiana style seafood fix, Mac’s Place offers healthy options. Their Eat Well El Paso menu includes foods for not only adults but also for children with foods like grilled cod, shrimp and fish soup.

“We just got on board with the city for the kids to Eat Well Program,” Apuan said. “So if you have children, you can bring them in here and I can feed them good food instead of fatty food.”

When living in a large Hispanic community, people tend to shy away from trying foods of different cultures. Mac’s Place adds variety to the predominately Hispanic and Mexican culture.

“Being a border town we should have a lot more culture,” said Apuan. “More ways to be diverse, basically its always fun to try new things.”

This article was produced as part of Borderzine’s Journalism in July 2016 summer workshop for high school students sponsored by the Dow Jones News Fund and the University of Texas at El Paso Department of Communication.

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