September 4, 2013

Guide to Fort Bliss: Best (and Worst) Restaurants, Part 3

"Since this post is so close to the last, can you tell I'm trying hard? Seriously, I promise to finish this restaurant guide before our upcoming move if it's the last thing I do. Hopefully I'll not only finish the restaurant guide, but I will also have time for grocery stores, entertainment... and a few other things."

This is how the post originally started, when I began writing it several months ago. Obviously, none of these things happened on schedule. I didn't even finish one post, much less all of them. Moving has certainly played havoc with my timeline. But, today is a new day! Let's get this show on the road, people.

Oh wait... I'm already on the road. Hubs and I are in the middle of our cross-country jaunt as we count down the days for our flight to Germany. I'll try to actually finish this time, but I'm not making any more promises.

If worst comes to worst, I'm going to tap one of you as a guest blogger for the rest of this guide! Volunteers? Anyone?

Well, you can get back to me on that.

So today, I'm going to talk about the best and worst of our local bakeries and breakfast eateries. Those two feel like they should go together. If you missed out on Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, check them out!

As usual, keep my disclaimer in mind: Depending on when you view this guide, times may have changed. Some of these restaurants may have closed, and newer ones may be open. Your favorite place could very well be on the "bad" list, and I'm sorry for that. Truly. If possible, I will update when I can, but the Hubs and I won't be living here then, so I wouldn't be able to speak from personal experience. Please comment below if you've had different experiences, or if you know other restaurants you want included. I welcome your input, always.

Best and Worst Restaurants (Fort Bliss and Surrounding areas), Part 3: 


I love me an excellent bakery! Though we had a hard time finding bakeries when we first moved here, I did eventually find a few that I like. These are established businesses, with a storefront. However, I also suggest you look for at-home bakeries. These are often extremely talented people (many of them fellow spouses!), who simply cannot afford a storefront. Their pricing may be better, even. Because these people will constantly change, I won't be including them here. Search community Facebook pages, however, and you are sure to find them!

1. Bake Me Happy - This is, by far, my favorite bakery to date in El Paso. Go forth and eat cupcakes, peeps! Not only is the shop tastefully decorated, the cupcakes themselves are divine. Specialty flavors abound, I've never been disappointed. My only note is this - If you arrive promptly at opening time, not all cupcakes may be available yet. If you're looking for something specific, I suggest calling in advance to ensure your cupcakes will be ready. The owner here is fantastic, extremely friendly, and willing to work with you to suit your needs. Visit at least once and see what you think.

2. Marina's German Bakery - The bread, the bread, the bread! Also, did I mention the bread? While this bakery sells pastry, sandwiches, and other assorted items, the bread is (in my opinion) what they are known for. Many friends have mentioned this to me over the years, and they are right. In fact, some of Marina's products are used to stock the commissary on post. Urbanspoon gives them a huge 92% positive rating as well... this many people can't be wrong!

Photo from Marina's website

3. Belle Sucre Bakery - I haven't tested this particular bakery, but I wish I had. Their online ratings are high and I've had several recommendations that I go and try them. The 'menu' promises delicate French pastries, breads, cookies, and candies. If you've been, I'd love to hear about your personal experience. Pictures would also be excellent, if you've a mind to snap a few. As most of El Paso bakeries are either American or Mexican in style, I think Belle Sucre offers a nice change of pace.

4. Valentine's Bakery & Kitchen - Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a web address for this particular bakery. I have extremely mixed reviews, but I'm including them on the "good" list because Valentine's is a local El Paso favorite. Personally, I didn't much care for the cakes I've tasted here. However, they serve more than sweets. Also on the menu are local favorites, such as burritos, tamales, and menudo. If you enter expecting typical American flavors, you are doomed to disappointment. If you keep an open mind, though, you might find yourself surprised. My tip is this: don't drop by during mealtimes and expect to be served quickly. Instead, try to go a little before or after lunchtime.

Now for the bad news... the following places just didn't make my cut. 

1. International Bakery and Deli - This is another bakery where there is no website reference, sorry folks. I've been to this bakery once or twice, but after a while they shut down and moved to a new location. While online reviews are mixed, I think this bakery has good points and bad points. Their cakes and sweets are average, their sandwiches somewhat better. The local reviews took a small nosedive when the new location opened. If you happen to visit the new spot, let us know how your experience is.

2. Dirty Mouth Cupcakes -  I'm sure a lot of you will disagree with me, but I don't care for the cupcakes at Dirty Mouth (don't judge me!). Local reviews are mostly positive, but I find myself agreeing with those who think the cupcakes have dropped in quality over the last bit of time. I find them overly sweet and artificial for my tastes, especially for the price. However, I do appreciate that they offer a military discount. Also, they bake 'Pupcakes' for your dog if you want to buy 1/2 dozen with one shot. Try this place for yourself and see which side of the line you fall on.


Many of the bakeries above would qualify for breakfast, especially if you're talking pastries. But there are a few places I'd like to add who serve more traditional fare. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day. Sometimes I even eat it for dinner! The Hubs, on the other hand, could take it or leave it. When eating out, we try to compromise on brunch so we each get a taste of what we love most.

1. Ripe Eatery - This is my favorite place for brunch, you MUST try it at least once. Seriously. Although they are open every day of the week, brunch is only served on Saturday and Sundays. The staff is friendly, the food is fantastic, and the online reviews reflect this. You'll be seeing Ripe Eatery again when I talk about local American restaurants and gastropubs. If you're having breakfast, don't forget to try the fresh biscuits. They come to the table with house-made strawberry preserves, yum!

Goat cheese, caramelized onion, and ham quiche
2. Crave Kitchen and Bar - This is another restaurant you'll be seeing on my list again, for their lunch and dinner items. However, their breakfast takes the cake! Unlike other places, Crave serves breakfast every day of the week. I've eaten at the Eastside location more times than I can count, and will personally testify for their blueberry pancakes and Croque Madam. We've moved before I could try all the breakfast items I wished, and I'm dying to know what their Nutella waffle is like. If you visit, please snap a pic and tell us your story.

My mom and sister join me for a meal at Crave
during one of their visits

3. Lucy's Coffee Shop - A tiny, local cafe, Lucy's is a popular spot for both breakfast and lunch. Though I haven't eaten here myself, I know several people who visit often. It's their favorite spot! Urbanspoon and other reviewers rate Lucy's positive as well, so I'll be stopping in here on my next pass through El Paso. Closed on Sundays, the cafe is open the rest of the week, serving great breakfasts in the morning and popular Mexican dishes at lunch. Email me or post your pictures of Lucy's on my Facebook page and show everyone what all the fuss is about.

4. The Lunch Box - Open for breakfast 7 days a week, the Lunch Box is always ready to serve you breakfast. Their menu offers many Mexican specialties (both for breakfast and lunch), is competitively priced (a.k.a. inexpensive), portions are large, and reviews are great. Why wouldn't you try them at least once?? If I'd known about them sooner, I have a feeling I would have gone back more than once. Here's a quick view of their breakfast menu (click on image to enlarge):

5. Ardovino's - Another hot spot which serves weekend brunch. I missed an opportunity to eat here, and I wish we'd taken the time one weekend to enjoy it. An Italian restaurant for lunch and dinner, I hear the weekend brunch is delicious. To top it off, a farmer's market runs here every Saturday during the season. I would completely enjoy a relaxing breakfast followed by some browsing, and likely purchase, of fresh fruits and veggies at the market.

As for the not-so-great places to eat, the news is good for local places. Most of the negatives are chain locations. I won't even bother to review most of them, just know that they are not up to snuff. When it comes to breakfast, eat local and be happy!

1. IHOP - I shouldn't have to say anything else... I mean, it's IHOP. You get what you expect, which is mediocre food and long lines to be seated.

2. Village Inn - Though well-known for their pies, the rest of the menu leaves a lot to be desired.

3. Denny's - Here, I'd like to be a bit more specific. I know that many of you reading are affiliated with the military in some shape or form. Because there is a Denny's on post at Freedom Crossing, I know there will be those of you which eat here. In my experience (and those of several good friends), this is not a good bet. Service is poor, and the food is questionable. Do yourself a favor and try one of the other places I've listed here. I doubt you'll go back to Denny's.

So, that's all for now folks! Get out this week and try something new. Have a quiet breakfast with your spouse or your kids, or heck, have a quiet meal to yourself. I hope you enjoy some of these great local spots while you can.

Happy eating, my friends.

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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1 comment:

  1. Bake Me Happy > Dirty Mouth, thank you for also sharing that opinion. Cox's Bakery on Dyer is pretty good, too.