Local hotspot tantalizes the taste buds

Proposed parish pipeline provides promise
May 3, 2011
Rebecca Cheramie
May 5, 2011

When restaurateurs adventure out in search of bold and exciting flavors, Mexican restaurants offer not only a great meal, but an escape from the ordinary. From sizzling plates to festive music, there are so many things that make Mexican restaurants unique.

El Paso Mexican Grill on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Houma is no exception.

As I walked from the side parking lot to the front entrance, I could smell the unmistakable aroma of sizzling fajita plates being delivered to diners in the outside seating area.

El Paso is an impressive looking restaurant, donning earth-colored stonework around the front courtyard. In the lobby, my friend and I were warmly greeted and offered the option of eating in the courtyard dining area among the fountains and wash of sunset. We decided to dine inside to take in the artwork, cultural-themed color scheme and Mexican music.

Moments after settling in, a server delivered a large basket of chips with three types of dip: a traditional hot Mexican salsa, a cold salsa and a refried bean dip. The chips tasted very fresh, and each dip provided a different taste.

Within a minute, a different server promptly delivered menus and took our drink orders. The large, bound multi-page menu has more than 100 – yes, I counted – different meal combos, many of which are accompanied by two side items.

Looking around, it’s hard not to notice the large margaritas being delivered to tables all around us. Served frozen or on the rocks, El Paso’s margaritas sport the sour bite of tequila with the sweet undertone of lemon, lime and salt. It was as delicious as it was strong.

With chips and drinks in hand, I asked the server to recommend a few popular items; the task of choosing from the menu can be daunting. She recommended the fajitas and a combo plate; I also ordered the queso ($4.99) – another popular choice.

At first glance, the queso doesn’t look too special, a simple cream-colored cheese melted to a soupy consistency. What it lacks in color, the queso makes up for in taste. This dip is delicious! The mild taste of cheese, cream and spice make this dip tasty, but mild enough for all to enjoy.

Absolutely delicious, too, were the Shrimp Fajitas ($14.99). Jumbo shrimp mixed with sliced onions and peppers, grilled with oil and spices and served atop a sizzling hot platter: the presentation is awesome.

The fajitas are served with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce and sour cream. When you combine all of the ingredients on a steamed tortilla, the flavors explode and make Mexican magic.

A “Combinationes el Paso Plate E” – a chili rellino, beef taco, beef enchilada, refried beans and rice ($10.25) – accompanied my sizzling fajitas. The chili rellino is the crown jewel of this dish. It is a large, breaded and lightly fried chili stuffed with El Paso’s signature queso and served fork-tender alongside a taco and hearty enchilada. Everything on the plate looked and smelled delicious.

The bold, meaty flavors in the taco and enchilada, along with a healthy amount of fresh shredded cheese to offset the boldness of the meat, make these Mexican standards a delight at El Paso. And when you mix the rice, beans and melted queso, you’ve got home-style comfort food just like that served south-of-the-border.

As my guest and I dined, I reflected on how different El Paso’s atmosphere is compared to a typical establishment. Besides complimentary chips and salsa, patrons never have to wait for service thanks to the multiple servers moving about the dining room.

When people venture out to restaurants these days, they’re looking for more than just good food; they want an experience, or maybe even a getaway. No matter what your desire, El Paso has a multitude of flavors, dishes and drinks to satisfy even the most adventurous tastes.

El Paso Mexican Grill 1055 W. Tunnel Blvd., Houma (985) 262-0542 Restaurant Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun., 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.