LA Times traveling writer: ‘Some of you warned me about El Paso’
Hey folks, how about some responses to this piece? Here’s one to get you started:
Hey jerk, do a little REPORTING (since you work for an alleged newspaper) and TALK to a few locals before you get here. Good cheap Mexican food in Fort Stockton?
The piece (which can be found here):
Some of you warned me about El Paso, the latest stop on my two-week, reader-driven road trip. Reader Daniel Anaya e-mailed to say that the city “has little to redeem it in general.” Based on what I saw, I wouldn’t come to that harsh a judgment, but it’s certainly not the most lively city on a weeknight.
El Paso is very rich in its culture collision. Since it’s right on the border with Mexico, many immigrants find themselves in the city either temporarily or permanently. For some perspective on how densely populated the area is with Spanish-speaking people, 11 of its 26 FM radio stations are broadcast in Spanish.
Readers offered few picks for El Paso, and most of them were restaurants. Anaya mentioned two bars:King’s X and the Garage Tequila Bar, which I had trouble finding. Eventually giving up, I stopped at Club Dedo, where a few patrons were congregating outside for a smoke.
The punk-inspired hangout was fairly empty. It was dark, with red lights that ran across parts of the ceiling. “The Shining” played on a TV above the bar. The music being spun by DJs was a good mix of modern hits including MGMT, underground classics such as Morrissey and a smattering of punk roots songs.
When I asked the bartender whether any live shows were happening that night, she shrugged, turned to a newspaper and flipped it open to a page of “What’s Up.” It listed a few events, none of which looked appealing.
Even online social media offered little help. The people on Twitter who had said they’d been to the city didn’t remember much about it or have any advice. Crowd-sourced review site Yelp didn’t seem to have reliable suggestions. And Upcoming straight up said there was nothing happening in El Paso that night. Tonight, however, there’s a downtown street festival.
I wandered farther down Mesa Street. There was a small block of bars, and I landed briefly at a place called Zeppelin’s Underground. The area was packed with students from the University of Texas, whose El Paso campus was just down the road. The overcrowded patio and modern club music were a huge turnoff. The scene, including the few other bars nearby, lacked any personality.
College bars often seem to have this identity crisis: They want to be hip dance clubs every night and play music that caters to the least common denominator while keeping a physically small profile. So check out El Paso’s Mesa bar block if you want to celebrate every night like it’s MTV Spring Break.
Disappointed, I called it a night. Hey, at least I had good, authentic, cheap Mexican food in Fort Stockton, Texas, on my way over, in a restaurant called Mi Casita. Good call, Pecos 45! Soon, I’ll be on my way toAlbuquerque, and Las Vegas the next day.
To provide travel tips for my reader-driven road trip, inspired by music, send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave comments on the Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal Blog or, for those on Twitter, send tweets to @mmilian. To follow my road trip status live, visit http://twitter.com/mmilian. For the trip schedule and cities, check out earlier posts.
—Mark Milian, Los Angeles Times staff writer
[Photo: Zeppelin’s Underground in El Paso. Credit: Mark Milian / Los Angeles Times]