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“Festive and Fun”
Review of El Paso Cafe

El Paso Cafe
Ranked #156 of 878 Restaurants in Arlington
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Mexican
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
186 reviews
170 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Festive and Fun”
Reviewed December 7, 2013

Colorful decorations and atmosphere with wait staff laughing and joking among themselves and enjoying glimpses of football on the flat screen. All this without dropping a beat regarding service. They look like they love their jobs and they are an asset to this restaurant. We came for an earlyish dinner thinking the parking lot may not accommodate us later. No worries, as there is additional parking in the back. The place was hopping, but we were able to easily converse during our meal. I’m giving the highest rating for the overall experience (atmosphere / food / service), but may be influenced by the fact that Don Pablo’s was the last Mexican restaurant I tried. So my memory of fast and processed was now contrasted with El Paso’s slower and fresh.
We ordered the Salmon dinner and the Pershing Plate. Here’s the food rundown:

* Warm tortilla chips tasted made in-house—not sure if they are / aren’t--and smoky salsa is addictive.

* Salmon was cooked perfectly – tequila lime sauce was fine, but the melt-in-your-mouth fish was a stand out.

* Side salad that comes with Salmon dish couldn’t have fresher iceberg, cukes, and tomatoes– ranch dressing tasted homemade but was bland. Stirring some salsa into the dressing livened up the salad.

* Chile relleno was bursting with flavor! The meat in the taco was seasoned (marinated?) perfectly and was the perfect cut of steak for a taco.

* Side dishes of rice and beans were hot and tasted on par with those of other decent Mexican restaurants.

* Lots of interesting bar drinks on the menu, but we did not try any.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mary G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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79 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
57 reviews
42 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Good, but not great”
Reviewed October 19, 2013

The El Paso Cafe bills itself as a Mexican restaurant; it's not. The food is actually Central American. Having said that, the service is always good; the food is always fresh and well-prepared and the portions are fair-sized. Dining here is a nice, predictable experience; not stellar, but always good, for what it is.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Eric S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
171 reviews
65 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“Great fajitas, but the music/band is too loud”
Reviewed July 7, 2013

This used to be a sleepy tanqueria with a reasonable priced menu with the standards for Mexican fare. Mariachis used to play one night a week. I guess they are trying to expand their market and so the menu is much larger now, prices have gone up, and they have tequilia tastings weekly. We were sad (for us, but happy for them) to see our neighborhood local go kind of corporate. They have live music most nights (at least the times we were there), but it is WAY too loud and detracts from the dining experience. The Fajitas are what to go here for. They used to be more generous in the past (before the reinvigoration) and one order could easily serve two. Now one person can handily consume an entire fajita order. We joke that this used to be George Bush's favorite Mexican (W's) because he actually came and ate here when he was president. The fajitas are great and the meat is tasty and comes on a sizzling metal plate.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank barbara r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Derby, Kansas
Level Contributor
80 reviews
43 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Down home Mexican Fare”
Reviewed May 28, 2013

El Paso Cafe is an institution in the Buckingham neighborhood. Just south of the Glebe/Pershing intersection, it is known for its authentic food and atmosphere. The wait staff is attentive and efficient, weaving between tables packed close together to accommodate the large parties that frequent the cafe, especially on weekends. I always get one of the soups, beef or chicken, full of corn on the cob, lettuce, yucca, other vegetables and whole pieces of chicken or large slabs of beef. Others prefer the fish tacos, or other excellent renditions of traditional Mexican fare. Although another reviewer complained about the music, I thoroughly enjoyed the great Mariachi band. They, too, are the real thing. Although they sound loud--trumpets, etc in a very small space--they are terrific and there is plenty of time between numbers to get in some normal-level conversation, and talk is not impossible even when they are playing. Another reviewer complained about the service, but our large group of 14 children and adults had excellent service on a very busy night on our recent visit. And I agree with "Soren Trips:" the margaritas are delicious.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank 3DQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palm Springs, California
Level Contributor
222 reviews
127 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Decent food and service”
Reviewed May 26, 2013 via mobile

We went on a weeknight, wasn't very crowded. Our food came out quickly and it was hot. Our waiter was okay, we had to ask for refills, silverware, etc. I prefer to go elsewhere.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank adventurerplus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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