Before we get to the many El Paso suggestions readers sent in for out-of-towners, I thought it was important to settle one important debate first: To Chico's or not to Chico's?
Several readers put Chico's Tacos on their suggestion list for Sun Bowl tourists from Oklahoma and California. But just as many wrote in to specifically warn visitors away. A sampling:
I say the best thing for visitors who come to the Sun City to do is enjoy some Chico's.
-- Tammy Rodriguez
Chico’s is good every once in a while (especially if you need to flush your stomach) but that is not Mexican food.
-- Danny Assad
As far as eating, I'd say eat at ANY Mexican restaurant, other than Chico's Tacos. I dislike the fact that Chico's is an out-of-towner's idea of "El Paso style Mexican food." We house some of the most amazing authentic Mexican food joints, so try that. Not Chico's.
-- Rene Trejo Jr.
We can't forget to stop at Chico's for a nice double and a hot dog after your long night of partying on Cincinnati street.
-- Amy Benavides
Well, I definitely think that any one who comes in to El Paso needs to have the Chico's Tacos experience. You can't find those anywhere but here!
-- Patty Noriega
OK, allow me to settle the debate. But, first, my Chico's Tacos story (every El Pasoan has one, right?)
When I moved to El Paso, one of the first recommendations I received was to eat at Chico's. So, I went one weekend, making the mistake of not taking a spiritual adviser.
Without an adviser to guide me in the way of Chico's, I took one look at those tacos floating in red liquid and decided the cooks were having a little fun with this Kansas boy. Without taking even one bite, I threw them in the trash and went to McDonalds.
When I got back to work on Monday, co-workers were appalled that I would throw away precious Chico's Tacos: "They are SUPPOSED to be in that liquid! They are delicious! You didn't even try them?!"
For years after, whenever I ended up at Chico's (which was quite often; my in-laws love it), I would refuse to try the tacos, always ordering a grilled cheese or a bean burrito, instead.
But after living in El Paso long enough, the siren song of Chico's got to me. I made a single order and fell in love. I now need a Chico's Tacos fix at least once a month, just like a native.
Which leads me to my ruling in this case:
Chico's Tacos are for El Pasoans. They are not for tourists. You shouldn't even be allowed in the doors of Chico's until you have lived in El Paso for at least three years.
Sooner and Cardinal fans, heed my warning: El Pasoans who steer you to Chico's Tacos mean well, but, trust me, stay away. This young lady agrees: