Borderland queer youth embrace new film based on bestselling book

It was an historic evening at the screening of Aristotle and Dante, a queer story set in the Borderland. Fans of the YA novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz packed the theater to watch the movie when it opened at the Alamo Draft House in El Paso. “I think our voices are not always heard and especially for queer youth trying to find a place in the world, in their community, in their city,” said Enrique Perea, at the special screening in September. “ I think it’s one of those things where you think about, hey, my story needs to be heard and I matter”

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, published in 2012, tells the story of two boys in El Paso juggling high school, and growing up while learning more about themselves and the love they feel for one another while they defy social and cultural norms.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is the executive producer with Aitch Alberto, a transgender film director. The movie feature several well-known actors including Eva Longoria and Eugenio Derbez, both prominent Hispanic voices in the film industry.

El Paso baker’s whimsical creations showcased in Food Network’s Halloween Cookie Challenge

El Paso baker, Naomi Gil, did not believe it at first when the Food Network invited her to be on one of their seasonal shows. “They reached out on my business profile, and they even went to my personal profile,” Gil said. “I don’t know how they found me.”

Gil, 27, is the owner of Azúcar Morena Bakery in El Paso, a dessert catering service with a following on Instagram. Gil did not respond at first to messages inviting her to try out for the Food Network’s, Halloween Cookie Challenge. She throught it might be a hoax.

Independent venues keep the music scene active in El Paso

El Paso has a couple of unique music venues that share the same goal—bringing more live music to the city. “We know that El Paso has a lot of potential. We have a lot of talented people here and we just wanted to showcase that,” said Mia Grajeda who opened Whole Lotta Denim in October 2022 along with her sisters Sierra and Savannah. Lowbrow Palace also opened its new location last fall at 1006 Texas. The original venue on on Robinson near the UTEP campus was a small, dark hole-in-the-wall with a capacity of 300.

El Paso-inspired comic book company highlights borderland, BIPOC characters

Elvira Carrizal-Dukes and Ronnie Dukes create the world they want to see, literally. Their graphic novel company, Dukes Comics combines Elvira’s writing skills and Ronnie’s art skills to share borderland culture with the world. “We’re trying to portray El Paso more as a metropolis with urban people and urban aesthetics. We’re not a sleepy desert town,” Elvira Carrizal-Dukes said. “Fort Bliss here in El Paso brings a lot of diversity and a lot of different worldviews.

Poet Rubí Orozco Santos, director of storytelling and development at La Semilla Food Center, holds a freshly picked beet from the center’s community farm in Anthony, New Mexico, on June 5, 2023. Photo by Rachele Kanigel/

Food as art in the social justice movement

Since its founding in 2010, the non-profit La Semilla Food Center in Anthony, New Mexico, has been creating a vibrant food system that prioritizes community connections, equitable economic practices and environmental health over profits.

El Paso’s untold stories emerge in new murals

Christin Apodaca believes she and other local artists have much in common.
“We all make things for our community and create spaces where you have something really fun to look at and think about,” she says. “And, you know, a lot of history is on the wall.”
It’s this multilayered history that seems to boost El Paso’s growing reputation as a city of murals.

El Paso tortilla maker, N.M. farmer team up to cultivate appreciation for heirloom maiz in the borderland diet

by Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, El Paso Matters
Mateo Herrera makes each tortilla with methodical care. The West El Paso restaurant where he works is closed on Mondays, so he has the kitchen to himself and his metal tray of bolitas – balls of masa awaiting their turn on the manual tortilla press. The corn tortillas gently puff up on the comal, where Herrera flips and pats them with his deft fingertips. Once cooked, they go into a terracotta container to stay warm. He finds this kind of work relaxing – serenity in the repetition.

Women advance in once male-dominated mariachi scene – preserving tradition with unique style

CIUDAD JUAREZ — When Stephanie Cramer started playing mariachi music in Ciudad Juárez 24 years ago, she didn’t know any other women mariachi musicians in the city. Now a violinist and singer for Mariachi Trio México de Noche, Cramer said she had to earn acceptance from the men because she was breaking a long-standing tradition. “They would make me cry, not only the guys in my group but the clients. They see a girl, and it was something new,” she said. Cramer’s experience is common according to Leonor Xóchitl Pérez, founder and executive director of the Mariachi Women’s Foundation.

How the pan dulce supply chain shortage made me appreciate the art of making sweet bread

Since I was a kid, a special morning for me has included a cup of cafe con leche and Mexican sweet bread known as pan dulce. My favorites are the pillowy conchas or the pig-shaped molasses-flavored marranitos. But in March 2020, the party was over. My mornings were filled with a lonely cup of coffee when my pan dulce supply was suddenly cut off.Due to the pandemic, every non-essential business in El Paso had to close. You would be surprised how many people think bakeries and its pan dulce are not essential.

The uniqueness of the K-Pop fan experience

I was first introduced to K-Pop at the end of 2019, when Grammy nominated artist Halsey and Korean band BTS collaborated on Boy With Luv. At the time, I was going through a rough patch to say the least, unmotivated and unhappy with life. Something about the bright, colorful music video and catchy lyrics that had me humming “oh my, my, my” to myself for days felt like a refreshing new turn in my life. Before that, I was into alternative and punk rock. I still am, but there is a uniqueness to being a K-Pop fan that is unlike any fan experience I have ever had.Days, weeks and a few music videos later, I found myself interacting with fans both in person and on the internet.

Why do Mexican snacks taste better than their U.S. versions?

Although many snack brands offer the same products worldwide, it seems when they are consumed in different locations they taste different. That’s something you hear a lot from people who live on the border here in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I made a questionnaire on Instagram to ask my friends and followers which products they felt tasted better in Mexico, I got an overwhelming amount of responses. Most of the people who responded claimed that Coca-Cola soda and chips by Frito Lay, such as Cheetos, Doritos, and Ruffles taste better when made in Mexico. Others went with Mexican sweets such as Ganzitos, and spicy candies such as Pulparindos and Rockaletas.

El Paso’s Mission Trail sees surge of growth and economic development 

El Paso’s historic Mission Trail may be quiet on a Monday, but as the weekend approaches, traffic and visitors begin to stream into the small communities of San Elizario, Socorro and Ysleta. The trail is a 9-mile stretch of the Camino Real, the Spanish Royal Road built in 1598. Shops, museums and businesses once again teem with visitors along  this section of the oldest European trade route in North America, which is once again seeing a resurgence in economic development.

Nonprofit food box service expands sustainable, organic options for households in El Paso and Southern New Mexico

For eight years the Desert Spoon Food Hub has been focused on making it easier to bring locally sourced organic food to family tables El Paso and Las Cruces. The nonprofit organization delivers weekly farm boxes with 100% organic produce that is grown by local farmers. “Our main purpose why we made this non-profit was to support local farmers and give the community access to healthy organic foods,” said Patsy Terrazas-Stallworth, Co-founder of Desert Food Spoon Hub. Terrazas-Stallworth and her daughters Adriana Clowe and Vanessa Brady started Desert Spoon Food Hub in 2014. The family-run nonprofit’s founders believe it’s crucial to recognize the range of food experiences from how it’s grown to how it gets to consumers’s kitchens and tables.

avocados in store

How to bring avocados across the border legally for the big game and other special occasions

EL PASO – Avocados are not cheap in the United States. Holidays and celebrations increase the demand for this versatile fruit, especially in the Borderland. Super Bowl Sunday in the U.S. is one of the highest days for avocado consumption, and in the border many holidays and celebrations consist of avocado in many forms.

But around here there’s an easy way to pay less for avocados. Ciudad Juárez, across the border in Mexico. I have been bringing avocados from across the border for a few years now on my own following what my mom has been doing for decades.

El Paso y Ciudad Juárez ofrece comida vegana y vegetariana a los fronterizos

En la frontera de Ciudad Juárez y El Paso, se ha visto un crecimiento del veganismo y vegetarianismo y se ve reflejado en la variedad de productos a base de plantas que se encuentran en diferentes tiendas y supermercados. Pero también se ve en la variedad de restaurantes que incluyen este tipo de comida.El Paso cuenta con alrededor de 10 restaurantes completamente veganas y más de 30 restaurantes que incluyen opciones veganas o vegetarianas en sus menús, así lo muestra una página web “Happy Cow.”“Cuando nosotros iniciamos, la gente no sabía realmente mucho pero ya había un grupo de personas, una comunidad,” dijo Jacqueline Cordova, dueña de The Green Ingredient. Fue uno de los primeros restaurantes 100% veganas establecidos en El Paso en el año 2013. Cerró sus puertas en el año 2018, pero ella y su esposo Ulises Cordova continuaron vendiendo productos a base de plantas.Cordova, la dueña de este lugar, cuenta según su experiencia después de más de ocho años, como ha visto el crecimiento del veganismo en la frontera desde que abrieron sus puertas por primera vez, hasta el día de hoy.”Ya muchos restaurantes han introducido lo que es tener opciones para las personas que no comen producto animal y cuando decimos producto animal, decimos, no lácteo, no huevo, porque muchas personas no saben la diferencia,” Cordova dijo. Aun con el cierre del restaurante, Cordova y su esposo continuaron con el negocio como proveedores de productos como quesos libre de lácteo y maltrato animal pero con el mismo propósito de que se siga incrementando este estilo de vida “plant-based.”“Nuestros quesos son quesos cultivados, y cuando decimos cultivados es el mismo proceso para hacer el queso que se hace con leche, nada mas lo hacemos sin leche con nueces o semillas,” explicó.

The newcomers guide to a borderland Christmas

Holidays around the country are celebrated with unique traditions, special to their region. And the holidays in the borderland also have their own festive recipe. Sharing a border with Mexico, El Paso is a melting pot of cultura with a dash of America and a dash of Mexico.In a city where the population is predominantly Mexican-American, the spices of two different cultures make the borderland holidays a celebration like no other. If you are new to El Paso, here’s all you need to know to celebrate borderland style. The Holiday prep

The festivities of the holiday season kick off early in the borderland.

Fans returning to El Paso concerts with some pandemic precautions

The pandemic shut down the concert scene in the borderland last year, but now fans are eager to see their favorite performers back on the stage. “I traveled all the way from St. Louis, Missouri, 16-hour drive, left at 4 o’clock yesterday, just to be here,” said Jovan Tucker. She drove from St. Louis to see rapper Kevin Gates in September at the El Paso County Coliseum.

Restaurants in Ciudad Juarez every foodie should know

Ciudad Juárez has long been a destination for people from El Paso to visit family members or a place for fun-seekers to travel without going too far. During my visits from over the last couple years I’ve noticed that the city has also turned into a serious eating destination. From tacos and enchiladas to duck breast with a side of couscous, the city’s culinary options are diverse. Although it would take me many visits to get to know all of the restaurants and street stands in the city, here is a list of some of my favorite spots I’ve discovered in my visits. Catalina Bakery & Bistro


Former Borderzine editor David Smith-Soto’s novel wins International Latino Book Award

Borderland writer David Smith-Soto’s novel Havana Hallelujah was named the first place winner in Adventure/Drama category in the 2021 International Latino Book Awards this weekend. Smith-Soto was a professor of multimedia journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso from 2004 until his retirement in 2016. He served as editor for The International Latino Book Awards is the largest Latino literary recognition program in the U.S.  Presenters for the online awards ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 17 included luminaries like Isabel Allende and Edward James Olmos.

Juarez nightlife trying to adapt to changing pandemic conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic affected a wide range of businesses during the past year, especially nightclubs in Ciudad Juárez but some businesses found ways to reopen and adapt. Now, they’re faced with a new health order limiting hours and capacity and forcing some to close their doors once again as cases and hospitalizations spike. Nightclubs and restaurants have looked for ways to stay in business. “We had to turn everything into e-commerce we tried to sell remotely and reach the customer ourselves, said Pepe Hernandez, a founder of “Punto Unión,” an upscale property with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The months when businesses were forced to close under a health mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19 were difficult.

“The entertainment business ended, so we did it through other brands; we launched a sushi brand, mixology courses, food, and some businesses we turned completely into something new, ” Hernandez said.

What you need to know about El Paso zoo’s limited reopening and pandemic safety protocols

Visitors to El Paso’s recently reopened zoo are getting to meet some new animals that settled in while the zoo was closed for the pandemic. “The cougars came in as cubs, two little bitty cubs. Now they are full grown cats,” said Zoo Director Joe Montisano. The popular destination for El Paso families reopened at 50 percent capacity in February. That’s 2,500 visitors a day.

Artists reflect Segundo Barrio pride in south El Paso mural

EL PASO — Three artists who grew up in the Segundo Barrio collaborated to create the mural “Quinto Sol- The Rebirth,” in south El Paso. Francisco Delgado, Francisco Camacho, and Bobby Lerma united to paint the mural to inspire children from the neighborhood with memorable artwork. “I believe that it was destined to be on that wall. Everything felt in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, with people who have a good heart, with people that care about the community, and with people who have a strong incomparable love to the neighborhood,” Lerma said. Delgado calls himself a “bordeño,” an artist whose artwork is a mashup of being a Chicano and a “fronterizo.”

Lockdown was a drag; An interview with Borderland queen Rumor

El Paso — Bar shutdowns, curfews and stay home orders to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the borderland affected the way many El Pasoans worked. That includes performers such as drag queens who had steady gigs prior to the pandemic, but lost income when they could no longer perform in person.”It’s affected me in a way where I do not have that extra income anymore,” said Alexander Wright, who performs in bars and nightclubs as “Rumor.” She, like many drag queens, performs as a second job rather than as a primary source of income. “Fortunately, I do have a full-time job so I do not rely on drag to go ahead and pay for my stuff, per se.” Wright works as a customer service representative for a staffing agency during the day and does drag as Rumor as a side venture.