8050 Gateway East
El Paso, TX, 79907
(915) 592-1294
Mexican cuisine
I Ate:  Flautas Oaxaquenas, Salpicon, pecan pie a la mode
Price:  ~$16.25 + tax/tip

(Five stars at its best; four-and-a-half at its worst)

Julio's Cafe Corona sits on the side of Interstate 10, a short distance East of the Yarborough exit.  Julio's specializes mainly in Mexican dishes, with a few dabs of American and Spanish and other influences.


I was seated in the back of the restaurant, allowed to order a beverage, and served chips and salsa in rapid, practiced sequence.  It was a green salsa, not something I encounter often, and was very good.  It made me wish I'd been brought my beverage with the same promptness I started, with, however; I was sweating up a storm by the time it arrived.

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to get for the meal.  For the appetizer I settled on a plate of flautas, but for the main course I wanted to try something new.  Silly me.  I was recommended various dishes, but finally chose something called "salpicon".

While waiting for the appetizer, the lights went out, and I feared we'd just experienced a power failure.  Turned out someone had just dimmed them way, way down, and a group of waiters began to sing "Happy Birthday".  I could tell from how off-key most of the staff was singing this wasn't something they did often.  You've got to love independently owned restaurants...

The appetizer arrived anon, and wow!  What a presentation.  A "rack" of flautas, reminiscent of baby-back ribs, covered with fresh guacamole.  They were filled with beef, crispy crusted, and quite wonderful.  Sour cream was supposed to have been included on the side, but I didn't miss it.  What did appear on the side was some salad and refried beans, what I'd expect with the main course.  I believe they were moved there deliberately, for what was to come took up the entire plate.


What a surprise it was when the main course was placed in front of me.  Along with a plate of hot fajitas, I was given a platter full of -- meat.  Yes, meat; shredded beef, seasoned, with some onions and a few cheese cubes.  And it was cold, too!  I'd pictured something with more veggies, a little extra variety; but while there were a few items on the side, like a few avocado slices, for the most part it was just meat.  I ate most, but couldn't bring myself to finish the platter, especially when the tortillas started cooling down to the same temperature as the meat.

Not having finished the main course, I decided to spring for dessert.  I received a rather small slice of pecan pie, completely overwhelmed by a large ball of vanilla ice cream.  It wasn't bad, and checking my bill afterwards, $2.25 wasn't going to buy me a significant slice of pie.  But wait!  They charged me 50 cents for drink refills?  The cheapskates!  Good thing I didn't get more chips and salsa, too; seems they charge you extra after the first bowl.

Well, that'll learn me to try something new without getting all the nitty-gritty details about what I'm planning to order.  I'll definitely be returning to Julio's to try some of the other items on the menu...  But no more salpicon for me.


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