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.

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.

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.

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.

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


What makes pozole so irresistible?

EL PASO — As chilly weather sets in and fall finally arrives in the borderland, so does the beloved tradition of making pozole. https://youtu.be/gx1y6wnZmkc

Elva “Raquel” Salas, 60, sells the slow-cooked red chile and hominy stew from home on weekends to earn extra money. The mother of three and grandmother of eight works full-time at a power plant, but on Sundays she sells her homemade pozole to friends, family and others who don’t have time to make their own. Salas uses a recipe from her grandmother’s kitchen. She says it’s all about the seasoning.

A symbol of perseverance in El Paso, Café Mayapán struggles during the pandemic

Since its opening in 2001, Café Mayapán is known for more than it’s traditional take on authentic Mexican food. It also serves as a center for celebrating Mexican heritage, building community and supporting economic development for working class women. But now it’s struggling to survive, due to the pandemic. “I think it would be a shame if Café Mayapán ends up closing up, because it would be a loss not only for these women, but also for the community” said Aimée Carrillo, a longtime customer. The cafe at 2000 Texas is one of three enterprises run by La Mujer Obrera, an organization dedicated to helping marginalized women.

Retirees cultivate Jardin de Milagros to get fresh, healthy vegetables to El Paso food pantries

When Jerry Hobson retired in 2010, he and his wife, Susan, got to work on a plan to turn some old family farmland into a garden of fresh produce for people in need. “We were here with land, water, time, and some nickels and dimes and it was like someone was saying: ‘You kind of have it pretty good, maybe it’s time to share that and give back,’ ” said Jerry Hobson, 74, who retired after a career as a chemical engineer with El Paso’s Chevron Refinery and El Paso Natural Gas. The farm, located south of La Union, NM, near Canutillo, Texas, has been part of his family for a hundred years. Over time it was divided among Hobson’s family members. The three acres that belong to Jerry and Susan Hobson is now known as Jardin de Milagros and provides truckloads of fresh vegetables to area food pantries.

Kiki’s – How a little neighborhood restaurant grew to be a community tradition

El Paso is a city packed with mom-and-pop Mexican restaurants – humble spots tucked in amid neighborhood shops that many non-locals might not even notice as they drive by. Places, like Kiki’s at 2719 N. Piedras. It is off the beaten path, but after more than 40 years, this Central El Paso eatery has grown into a local institution that attracts fans from across the city. Kiki’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar was established by Paula Yardeni in 1976. The name Kiki’s comes from Yardeni’s daughter who was just a toddler at the time.

Vegan merchants sharing their bounty with community shelters

An El Paso couple are providing homeless people and others in need with meals and educational services to promote plant-based living. Roman and Adriana Wilcox, owners and operators of One Grub Community, are following a mission centered on giving back to their community where five percent of their sales and 100 percent of their tips go toward the purchase of healthy food for meals for people at non-federally funded shelters like Annunciation House, Villa Maria, The Opportunity Center and others. “We needed to make sure that we are able to cook together and eat together,” Adriana Wilcox said. “I think that’s when you get the community involved and you’re able to get personal with them.”

Through various “pay it forward” events and demonstrations of plant-based meals, the Wilcoxes keep the community involved. Mayela Duran, housing coordinator for Rapid Rehousing for chronically homeless residents at The Opportunity Center said, last year’s holiday event featured a vegan pozole for the 25 participants who lived in the housing center.

Ramen restaurants win over the Borderland with fresh, spicy style

EL PASO – Ramen restaurants are trending in the Sun City, and some are changing the way people see the brothy noodle dish. When you say ramen, many people think of the dry squiggly pasta that comes in cellophane-wrapped blocks or Styrofoam cups most popular among budget-strapped college student. Now restaurants, such as Nishi Ramen in Downtown El Paso, Kaedama near the University of Texas at El Paso and, the newest addition, El Cuartito Ramen on the West Side, are serving up their spin on this traditional Japanese fare. El Cuartito is a small 20-seat restaurant located at TI:ME at Montecillo, in the up-and-coming entertainment district on Mesa Street. Owned by Pan Y Agua Restaurant Group, Octavio Gomez, Nick Salgado and Chef Rudy Valdez, who are behind the successful Crave concepts, Hillside Coffee and Donuts, Malolam, and Independent Burger, decided to give their Mexican flair to their ramen.

La Cocina De Martha: Food like abuela’s

Martha Flores, 57, says she began her food business seven years ago selling snacks out of a small room in Central El Paso from 5 to 10 at night. “It was corn in a cup, chilindrinas, papa locas, just the good stuff,” says Flores who two years ago expanded the business into a full-fledged restaurant on Montana Avenue named La Cocina de Martha. “I had a dream–my dream was to have my own place, my own restaurant,” said Flores, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to the United states with her family when she was a child. She graduated from Bel Air High School in 1978 and graduated with her bachelors degree in history from UTEP in 2000. She then accepted a full time day job as a property manager for a local business and ran her mom-and-pop food business at night.

Vendors shop health foods to El Pasoans browsing farmers market

Farmer’s market vendors said they set up booths in El Paso in response to efforts trying to stem preventable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease – the leading causes of death in the county. “We cater to a lot of people that have diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure,” said Ulises Cordova, owner of The Green Ingredient, a business that sells health food at a local gym. “We teach them how to eat right and give them different alternatives.”

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in El Paso County, according to the 2013 El Paso Community Health Assessment. Cordova and his wife started The Green Ingredient after several family members contracted cancer. They have been vendors at the Saturday El Paso Downtown Art and Farmers Market for the past 5 years.

Nueva era, nueva idea en Craft Café

El entusiasmo por productos y comidas orgánicas y mas saludables ha tomado raiz en esta zona fronteriza con una variedades de cafes y restaurantes que sirven selecciones vegetarianas o veganas. Recientemente dos emprendedores locales se han incorporado al movimiento orgánico con una idea inovadora, una carretilla de café instalada en one:one, unas oficinas ultra modernas en el centro de la cuidad. Rosa Tenorio, egresada de mercadotecnia, y Abel Baca, estudiante de administración de empresas, ambos en la Universidad de Texas en el Paso, fundaron en Septiembre su nuevo negocio, Craft Café, o “carrito de café” que sirve café, tés, y postres, todos hechos con ingredientes orgánicos. “El Paso por el momento no tiene ningún restaurante cien por ciento vegano pero tiene bastante opciones veganas”, dijo Tenorio. Actualmente, existen varios restaurantes que ofrecen alguna comida vegana o vegetariana en El Paso tales como Ripe, ubicado en Redd Road, Nour Mediterranean e India Place, ambos ubicados en Mesa Street.

Meatless merchant offers ‘pay it forward’ plan

What began as a food truck in the fall of 2016, One Grub Community provides access to healthy, plant-based foods through the vegan meals and grocery items it sells at the Downtown Art and Farmers Market every Saturday. By providing access to healthy and tasty foods, “El Paso’s first pay-it-forward meatless merchant” is joining some other local vegan eateries in winning over El Pasoans’ hearts – one vegan delicacy at a time. “I think the community knows that some authentic, good stuff is happening,” owner Roman Wilcox, 36, says. “We get really positive feedback on all our stuff; we’re really blessed.”

According to Wilcox, the company’s most highly-requested menu items are its “Natcho Queso”, a cashew-based chile con “queso”, and seitan jerky, protein made of wheat gluten and red lentils. One Grub also offers prepared meals, including breakfast tofu scrambles and seitan-stuffed peppers.

Latino entrepreneurs make their mark through microbrewing

El Paso, TX – Carlos Guzmán opened his first bar while he was stationed in Iraq. Well, it was sort of a bar. And it sort of just happened. Guzmán was having a hard time buying liquor in Iraq, so he asked his friends and family to stash some little bottles in their care packages. “Little did I know that within a month we’d have over 50 bottles,” said Guzmán who was in the U.S. Army.

Borderland Facebook foodies having fun rating restaurants with Juarez celebrity scale

Garnachas y restaurantes Juárez y El Paso is a Facebook group that has been gaining popularity among border residents. It began as a hobby two years ago and now is an online community with more than 50,000 members. The driving motivation for the group is to stimulate Juarez business and entertainment activity following a half decade of a declining economy and business closings sparked by high crime and violence. Group members rate Juarez restaurants and cafes on a scale of one to 10, using colloquial Juarez personalities such as superstar “divo” Juan Gabriel and the well-known clown Niko Lico, and others. For example, ten “Juangas” means the establishment is super good and one Niko Lico, means it is awful.

These 4 treats are worth tracking down at El Paso’s Mexican snack shacks

When I first moved to El Paso from Arkansas, my definition of Mexican food was tacos, guacamole and quesadillas. After living here for 10 years now, I have expanded my palette and grown to enjoy even more Mexican foods and snacks than I knew existed. I’ve come to enjoy authentic Mexican plates at restaurants like tacos al pastor, tampiquena, and aguachiles. But, I have also grown fond of some more unusual culinary treats available at local snack shacks anchored in parking lots around town. Not the newer trend of gourmet food trucks, which come replete with chefs from California and Las Vegas, but the simple mom-and-pop snack spots closer to El Paso border style.

Cook off settles title of El Paso’s top taco

As El Paso native Monica Maldonado sipped a refreshing aqua de horchato and sampled crispy chicken flautas at the 2015 Mexican Food Cook Off in Union Plaza, she admitted being a little embarrassed that this was only her first time attending the event. “While I was standing at the food truck I was talking to two ladies who came all the way from California to El Paso. It’s their third time coming here and I live in the North East and had never heard of the event up to this year,” Maldonado said. But many El Pasoans did turn out Sept. 18 to enjoy the festival atmosphere and sample the tastes of local restaurants like Desert Rustic Kitchen, Delicious, Molalam and Taquizas.

Latin American restaurants that go beyond Mexican in the Borderland

In the neighboring cities of El Paso and Juarez, a border region where Mexican and U.S. cultures intertwine, divided and connected by the Rio Grande, you can find a great number of authentic cuisines, from the typical U.S. burger and fries to homestyle Mexican tacos and enchiladas. Although this variety is satisfying for Borderlanders, it often leaves me craving “pupusas” and “tamales de hoja de platano,” two dishes common to one-half of my ethnic background which is Mexican and Salvadoran. This means I usually need to wait for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to satisfy my Salvadoran taste buds, when my Mexican-born mom cooks up traditional Salvadoran dishes she’s mastered since she married my Salvadoran dad 25 years ago. Hopefully, one day someone will open a Salvadoran restaurant on the East side close to home. Related story: Popular Latin American foods show common characteristics, diverse accents

I know I am not alone.

Mas que artesanías, piezas de historia

Barro negro, textiles, árboles de la vida, cuchillería, cestería, platería, orfebrería, barro bruñido, comida típica y antojitos mexicanos forman parte del extensor surtido de historia y cultura Mexicana aparente en sus artes plásticas. “Un viaje por nuestra republica, una travesía por la cultura mexicana” dijo Araceli Gómez. 35, quien es la organizadora de la exposición Arte Mexicana actualmente en recorrido por todo México. Las tradiciones y la cultura Mexicana tienen una larga historia, orgullosa de sus orígenes y lazos ancestrales la exhibición recorre el país cada año exhibiendo su fascinante arte. La exposición de artesanía, tiene como objetivo promover y comercializar productos fabricados por artesanos de toda la republica.

Popular Latin American foods show common characteristics, diverse accents

Food is often called a universal language that brings people together. There is much diversity among Hispanic cultures, but we can find some familiar experiences in the foods that we eat, and how we eat them. Living on the U.S., Mexican border I see the similarities between many popular Mexican dishes and the Puerto Rican staples my mother would prepare. Here is a look at three standard Puerto Rican dishes and their counterparts found in traditional Mexican, Cuban, and Dominican cuisine. 1.

5 pizza combos worth trying in El Paso

EL PASO—My love for pizza is undeniable. I find it fascinating that you could eat pizza every single day of your life and never repeat the same combination. Delectable, creamy cheese that melts in your mouth is the one layer that’s a constant among many variations. Usually, it is the endless toppings that range from spicy meats to fresh vegetables on top of a delectable crust make pizza unique. I decided to take my infatuation of pizza eating to the next level by driving to several of El Paso’s locally owned restaurants to try a diverse range of pizzas.

Food truck trend continues to grow as profits roll in

EL PASO — A hungry motorist driving on the desert highway on the east side of this border city could suddenly come up on Jesus Ramos’ El Vaquero food truck, stop and enjoy an “elotes,” a corn concoction that has its origins in old Mexico. “I have been in the food truck business for 30 years,” said Ramos, who specializes in serving the elotes, a mix of corn, butter, cheese and chile in a styrofoam cup. “I began in Mexico, and have only recently been in El Paso for three years. I sell 300 elotes a day at $3 to $5 each and to me it’s well worth the work of owning a food truck.” Opening a mobile restaurant or food truck is not an easy task.

Videos capture a taste of autumn on the border

As the scorching heat of the summer gives way to afternoon rains and cooler temperatures in the low 80s, residents along the Texas, Mexico border begin to prepare for rituals of autumn.  Some of the staff of Borderzine for the fall 2014 semester practiced their multimedia skills by capturing signs of the season in our community. 1. Abuela’s Chicken Soup

This is the time of year when stock pots on stoves across the nation simmer with the comforting goodness of chicken soup. Here, reporter Marilyn Aleman presents a typical El Paso version prepared by her mother using big chunks of vegetables and corn still on the cob. The wine for the cook is optional.

Few local restaurants offer menus in braille for the vision-impaired

EL PASO – Trying to pick from the vast number of dishes on a restaurant menu can be challenging, but imagine not being able to see the menu. Blind or vision-impaired persons must deal with that anomaly. Only a few restaurants in El Paso offer braille menus to their blind or vision-impaired customers, according to phone interviews with 21 local restaurants. The only ones were the national chains Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Applebee’s, and BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. Some 21 million adults – about 9 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18, reported having vision problems, according to the 2011 National Health Interview Survey prepared by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.