Food wise, Lenten season in El Paso means seafood specials galore and capirotada, a bread pudding studded with cheese, dried fruit, spices and sometimes candy sprinkles. No Mexican restaurant in town would dare not offer some type of meatless or seafood option on Cuaresma Fridays. While not everyone in El Paso is Christian/Catholic, many seafood lovers and vegetarians can also enjoy seasonal meatless promotions. Shrimp cocktail, enchiladas, camaron and lentil soup are local restaurant standbys, while grocery stores stock their shelves with chacales, habas (dried fava beans) and rainbow sprinkles. Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster may be your go-to Lent spots. Who could resist those cheddar biscuits? But then you’re missing out on local favorites Pelican’s, Mac’s Place, Little Shack, The Catfish Man, Tugboat Fish & Chips, King Crab, Pier 86, Crawdaddy’s and Delicias del Mar.
Lent may already be halfway through, but these five local spots are featuring special items you need to check out before they’re gone. They also happen to have plenty of delicious and filling meatless options if your Lent season includes abstaining from meat for the full 40 days.
1. Café Mayapan
With so many Mexican options in town, we had to include this under-the-radar nonprofit operation. Café Mayapan serves traditional specialties that are hard to find in El Paso, like nopales in chile colorado or as a salad. Friday’s menu during Lent includes fish tacos served on a jicama “tortilla” with mango salsa, tortitas de camaron and chacales, a soup made from dried corn. Unfortunately, this is solely a lunch option with weekday hours of 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: 2000 Texas Ave.
A place known for massive burgers and decadent brunches is offering a special Lent menu every Friday: pepita and parmesan-crusted salmon, a fried fish sandwich and seared Mediterranean sea bass served with ancient grains. Their everyday menu has plenty of meatless options that includes other seafood options, salads and a veggie burger. With the recently opened Fountains location and three other spots, they’ve almost got all corners of the city covered.
Locations: 300 Cincinnati Ave., 631 N Resler Dr., 11990 Rojas Dr., 8889 Gateway Blvd W.
It’s Mardi Gras in the Southwest all the time at this restaurant in the Northeast side of town, which started off as an award-winning food truck. You may not be able to indulge in the barbecue or the jambalaya on Fridays, but the seafood and vegetarian options are just as good. Po’boys topped with pineapple-habanero slaw, fried catfish, shrimp and grits, puffy tacos – and even tofu as an option – are always good. Now that the restaurant is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays, it’s a great dinner option, especially during the weekly crawfish boil, which begins at 5 pm. Don’t forget to order a side of fried okra.
Location: 9402 Stonewall
This is where you can get your car washed while scarfing down a gourmet burger. During Lent, they’re featuring fish tacos with adobo sauce, veggie tacos and a new lentil burger. Their original veggie burger has a falafel-like patty with hummus, tahini sauce and house-pickled cucumbers. Be sure to add an order of their sweet chips. Thinly sliced sweet potatoes are fried to perfection and topped with hunks of feta and a drizzle of honey.
Location: 1641 N. Zaragoza Rd.
One of downtown’s newest hot spots has a weekly chalkboard full of chef features that has included fish and chips, fish soup Veracruz (tomatoes, potatoes, celery, onion) and a sandwich with a blackened, Cajun-style seared haddock slathered with remoulade. Their regular menu has plenty of options from appetizers of hummus and calamari, to salads, a salmon burger and falafel. The bean and cheese pupusas are an unexpected surprise that are authentic and served with curtido (cabbage relish).
Location: 502 N. Oregon St.