9639 Dyer Street
El Paso, TX  79924
(915) 757-7988
Chinese cuisine
I Ate:  the dinner buffet
Price:  ~$5 + tax/tip

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

The Sunflower Chinese Restaurant is about 2/3 of the way up Dyer Avenue, from its intersection with Highway 54 to where most of the business ends at Loop 375.  "Across from the Northeast Police Station", Sunflower serves a buffet, along with Chinese dishes a la carte.


I was cruising the town for a place to eat, driving up Dyer, not knowing what sort of food I craved but only wanting to avoid Mexican food that evening.  The Sunflower Restaurant caught my eye, not because of a flashy display, nor because I had an overwhelming desire for fried rice, but instead because of its neighbor.  This Chinese restaurant was positioned right next to -- a Chinese restaurant.

Now, in SF's or NY's Chinatown, you can find Chinese restaurants on top of one another all the time; but this is EL PASO.  How could two Chinese restaurants survive in such close proximity?  I decided to find out.  I dropped into what seemed to be the newest restaurant, intending to visit the other later.

It looked pretty friendly, with a few customers busily eating; not bad for so late at night.  The place was centered around an inexpensive buffet, with large dessert and salad tables, and a fair selection of entrees.  The waitress told me I could grab a plate and go right to the buffet; that's exactly what I did.

$5 Chinese buffets aren't amazingly difficult to find; but for 99 cents additional I received a very large (24 oz or so) soda.  I've found most buffet restaurants tend to overcharge on beverages.


As I said, the selection of entrees was fair; it was also more than a little overcooked, and fairly bland.  Some of the dishes, like the barbecued chicken and pork, had some taste remaining, but most were close to flavorless.  Many restaurants serving beef with broccoli will tend to be sparing with the beef, but try as I could, I found no beef at all in the serving platter here.

Not good; but not bad either.  None of the food was inedible, and I went back for seconds.  A few of the dishes were good, like the angel-hair lo-mein variant they served.  The fried rice wasn't bad at all, and I also liked the sweet-and-sour chicken.  I finally paid for the meal, grabbed a banana from the dessert bar, and left.

As MacArthur stated, "I shall return!" -- But not to the Sunflower.  Sometime in the next few weeks I'll be dropping in on its neighbor, the other Chinese restaurant.  I'm still curious how both restaurants survive, and I'll let you folks know.


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