El Paso is a city in West Texas bordering New Mexico and Mexico. Notorious for authentic Mexican cuisine, I was ecstatic to visit this vibrant city in early September. As I am not a local, most of my college friends grew up in El Paso, and were nice enough to show me their favorite foods. Even though I only visited for a weekend, I was able to try a plethora of dishes in this large city. Here are my recommendations for 5 dishes to try in El Paso, Texas! 

1. Steak Tacos from La Malinche

Steak tacos are a classic Mexican dish, usually served with salsa and lettuce. While I am not generally a taco fan, I have to say I was blown away by this restaurant. La Malinche is a casual Mexican restaurant, known as the 'Mexican version of Applebees'. The steak tacos here are one of their more popular menu options, and it comes with rice, beans, and garden items. Unlike most restaurants, you are served four nicely sized tacos topped with cilantro and chopped onions. La Malinche is a perfect place to go for lunch, as they have very affordable lunch specials. Be sure to check out this restaurant if you are ever in the area! 

2. Menudo from Good Luck Cafe

This is an essential Mexican dish in many households and known as the best hangover cure. Menudo is a traditional red chili pepper soup made with beef stomach. Good Luck Cafe is described as a "veteran cafe with homemade Mexican cuisine." The menudo is definitely a fan favorite, voted "the best menudo in the world" by its satisfied customers. Not only are the portions large, but the meat is tender and filled with flavor. Make sure to check this unique soup the next time you stop by this restaurant. 

3. Gorditas from Jj's

A gordita is basically a pastry filled with meat, cheese, and occasionally lettuce. Most of the time, It is served with tomatoes, rice, and beans to complement the flavor. Jj's Mexican Restaurant is a laid-back diner that is primarily known for their brunch and lunch options. Unlike the conventional scrambled eggs and pancakes, Mexican breakfast consists of hearty soups and savory gorditas.  One of their must-have options on the menu is their gorditas. Petite, simple, yet flavorful, JJ's gorditas always keep customers coming back for more. 

4. Tamales from Gussie's Bakery

Tamales are probably one of my favorite Mexican 'snacks' or meals. You can easily store them in your fridge, take them on the go, and eat them as a snack. Mixed with different vegetables and meats, there is an assortment of the different flavors of tamales. At Gussie's bakery, you can order freshly made tamales every day. My personal recommendation is the green chile chicken tamale. The green chile sauce complements the tamale very nicely, and I am always left with some spice in my mouth. Make sure to visit this place if you're hungry, but you seem to be in a rush! This is so much better than a drive-thru restaurant. 

5. Paletas de Crema from Paleteria Tepalca

For those who have never seen these vibrant desserts before, you are in for a real treat! Paleteria Tepalca is a local favorite, known for their Mexican ice cream desserts. Not only does this food stop have corn in a cup and flautas, but also their paletas de crema are to die for! These creamy popsicles have the consistency of an ice cream, and the flavors are incorporated with real fruit. They are super affordable and can be pretty filling as well. Next time you're thinking of where to go on a casual date, don't forget to check out this place! 

Not convinced yet? I already dying to return to these restaurants. While El Paso is only a four and a half hour drive from Tucson, the food is much much authentic and diverse.  This is definitely a hidden gem when it comes to rich cuisine.