If there is an iconic restaurant that best represents El Paso, it’s L & J Cafe. The restaurant and bar, which has operated since 1927 (first as Tony’s Place) is steeped in four generations of family tradition. Throughout the decades, L & J has received national recognition, a roster of celebrity clientele and countless awards, including four-time Best of the Best Mexican Restaurant winner.

They’ve kept the same recipes and menu, but have gone through a couple of renovations. Their most recent renovation has included an expansion with new dining areas, one of which replaced a kitchen area. Now, with plenty of room there is less of a wait, but the place still bustles at capacity. Friendly staff welcomes you, along with crunchy, flaky tostadas and a soupy chile de arbol salsa that is so popular that it’s bottled and sold there.

Customer favorites continue to be the red enchiladas (regulars recommend paying extra for half green, half red), chile rellenos and the ground beef tacos with potatoes. Caldillo is their signature dish, a stew made with tender chunks of beef, potato and green chile strips. Their sandwiches and burgers, served with either soup or fries, are popular during lunch. Setting them apart from other Mexican restaurants are their low carb options and healthier versions offered with less cheese, steamed tortillas and frijoles de la olla (whole beans) rather than refried beans in lard. New to the bar menu is a craft beer lineup from Texas brewers.

Don’t forget about their daily lunch specials, menudo on the weekends and small plate options available after 4 p.m. Small plates are mini versions of their tacos, flautas, enchiladas, burgers and more. “The old place by the graveyard” is still the place to frequent whether to take visitors to sample El Paso cuisine or grab an ice cold drink after work.

3622 E. Missouri Ave. 915-566-8418, Sunday-Wednesday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. $4.50-14.95, Vegetarian friendly, landjcafe.com

 

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