El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

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, 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 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]

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

15 Responses

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  1. Well, it really depends on why you came to EP, to party or to see the historical sights or just passingt thru.

    The area has a lot in history and there are things to do beside clubbing.

    What you as an outside persepctive have pointed out what I have been stating for months. The town is in massive debt because of a failed policy by the mayor to pour millions into the downtown area and voila. NOTHING to show for it. Yet, there are those that proclaim he is a success because of a few skyscapers.
    In this town, some see that as a definition of what greatness is.

    Maybe, now after reading an outside perspective and no ties to the town, the people will open their eyes and ears or at least stop looking up at the skyscapers and see the failed policy.

    The town is very unique and beautiful, with the right mayor and policies, it can become a great city.


    July 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  2. I get it – this guy came to El Paso hoping to find something that resembled LA and was disappointed that he didn’t find it.

    Somebody tell him that the best place to find a place that is just like LA – is LA.

    Not David K

    July 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

  3. Less clubs less reason to congregate less violence. El Paso is beautiful. Except for downtown…yukky..the biggest outdoor flea market in Tejas.


    July 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm

  4. VAya con Dios, and good riddance!

    Bill in el Paso

    July 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

  5. C’mon, certainly it is obvious the kind of nightlife this gent was looking for, but no matter what he looked for, he certainly would not find it in this dung heap.

    You all should know by now, and stop ‘protecting’ the city because you live here, but El Paso has nothing, absolutely nothing, to offer anyone except for rare moments of lucidity. For a city of 700k, it is the most boring and ugly place (yes, it has a nice history, just ask Asarco), from here to Phoenix.

    What’s true is true.


    July 6, 2009 at 2:25 pm

  6. A reporter and can’t even google King’s X or the Garage Tequila Bar???? And your newspaper has you traveling to different spots???? Hmmmmm,

    Seems to me as if your own newspaper is hoping you’ll get lost and will not return.

    Perhaps Ft. Stockton needs an “Ace Reporter”….


    July 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm

  7. This guy comes to El Paso and can’t find a bar to which he’s been referred, and, thus, El Paso is a nothing city? Come on, LA guy, give me a break. I’ve lived in LA myself, and it’s certainly nothing to write home about. El Paso is my home, I live here. I went through the bar scene in my younger days, and we never lacked for action. If LA guy would spend more than a couple of days here, and if he weren’t so set on his agenda of locating cantinas, he might find El Paso to be a truly warm, inviting, and welcoming community. See, we are color blind, we welcome anybody and everybody to our beautiful city. This LA guy walks into a nightclub, with his nose in the air, and is turned off because it’s not his kind of music? Orale pues, vato, portate bien. If you don’t like El Paso, you needn’t denigrate it. Just leave. Simon que yesca! Oh, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

    El Sin Fin

    Joe Olvera

    July 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

  8. El Paso does not attract the “Big City” types so that it will remain safe.

    Nobody here WANTS this to be an LA or Houston or Dallas or Atlanta or New Orleans or New York. We don’t EVEN want to attract those A- h o l e s, or the type of crime and pick-pockets that comes with them.

    And CERTAINLY we don’t want to advertise by/to a reporter that THIS is the place to be.
    We see the bad news and crime from all these big cities. We don’t want THAT. Already, home prices are driven up by out-of-towner/buyers and the property taxes rise along with it.


    July 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm

  9. where did this guy get his club/bar leads from, the hotel lobby manager? so he visited the typical west side strip. sure we don’t have much of a live music scene but plenty to do in other parts of town.


    July 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm

  10. At first, I wanted to write back an infuriating message but Marty said it best. LA, NY, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Vegas… we don’t want or need any of those scenes. It’s what makes El Paso, El Paso. If your idea of culture is the nightlife and bars, hey, by all means, stick to LA. Our culture consists of our people, our food, outdoor events, 300+ days of sun and so on. Yes, I love this city and I’ll be the first to advocate for it but some of the other comments are correct and we do have a long way to go… but bashing the H-E-double hockey sticks out of it doesn’t help, either. Anyway, kudos to you Mr. Milian, for writing such a disparaging piece about Chucotown. It’ll keep all the hipster, wannabe, trend-following types out of our little oasis in the desert. ; )


    July 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm

  11. Marty, you got it. Let EP be EP.

    This town is very unique. Want it to be like some other city, then perhaps you are living in the wrong place. Imagine if cities were all the same. What would be the point in going to another place to visit.
    The only plus would be, no map required.


    July 6, 2009 at 4:27 pm

  12. Okay so I was born in El Paso and lived in LA for about eight years. I have to agree that the night life in El Paso is not very attractive but you have to understand that this is not California. The young scene goes to bigger cities and all we are left with is just… well the ‘calm’. El Paso has its charms depending on what you like. If you like a crowd that sleeps at 10 pm and a gentle, cheap, quiet place, this is your city. If you want to see gorgeous people and the most unique scene of music and design, you won’t find it here. There’s not enough ‘creative’ people for it. Besides, the night scene here changes. When a nightclub opens and advertises you see a lot of attractive people and great music, then a few months pass by and it changes because that ‘it’ crowd moves somewhere else. But the city is calm and quiet. People are overall friendly and even if everything is ‘in inglish’ most of us flip back and forth from español to inglés. It’s just like LA in that sense. People here like their lives to be like that: calm, quiet and low in crime. In terms of History? Please, El Paso has no history. A couple centenaries is not history. If you want history, move to Europe. And yes our downtown is sadly falling apart. I mean buildings with the most amazing details and structures have signs and stickers from the 70’s… it’s embarrassing.


    July 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm

  13. El Paso is a best kept secret and if locals don’t warm up to you they don’t invite you to our cool local spots! We don’t want to be San Antonio where early in the morning City streets dept. is power washing tourist vomit from the sidewalks! River walk is nothing but a gross mall!


    July 6, 2009 at 9:29 pm

  14. El Paso is a best kept secret and if locals don’t warm up to you they don’t invite you to our cool local spots! We don’t want to be San Antonio where early in the morning City streets dept. is power washing tourist vomit from the sidewalks just like venice beach!


    July 6, 2009 at 9:30 pm

  15. I like Mi Casita in Fort Stockton. I eat there all of the time when I travel the approximately 250 miles from El Paso to get there during my work travel. I guess the “writer/hater” was so disgruntled to find so much open space between El Paso and its “Suburban” communities that he actually thought he was justified in comparing my old home town of LA with my home town of El Paso. If cheap was what you were looking for then you got what you deserved! However, El Paso does not merit your poor attempt of a cheap shot that you are confusing with journalism. My LA family loves the ambiance of El Paso. Maybe you should plan your next trip here with them. Go Lakers!!!

    Chester L. Bryant

    July 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

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