Dining Out For Life, a national annual fundraising event, will take place on Thursday, April 24. Twelve local restaurants will donate 25% of their proceeds to El Paso’s International AIDS Empowerment organization. This nonprofit’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS and to reduce the incidence of new infections through education, outreach and testing. For more info and how you can help, visit internationalaids.org.
I’ll be posting a three part series of mini reviews of the participating restaurants here on the blog. These reviews originally appeared in What’s Up Weekly.
Visit diningoutforlife.com to find out if your city is participating.
Rulis’ International Kitchen, Unrulis’, and El Parque will be donating dinner proceeds.
Rulis’ International Kitchen
Touting itself as a little great gourmet dive, Rulis’ International Kitchen started out in downtown El Paso before making its way to the UTEP area, across from the Don Haskins Center. Chef Raul “Rulis’’ Gonzalez has created a diverse menu with a variety of familiar dishes with mostly Mediterranean and Mexican influences. It’s also probably the only place in town where bangers and mash (bratwurst cooked in beer served with cheesy mashed potatoes) and shrimp tacos coexist.
A cup of potato poblano or seasonal squash soup and some tapas will buy you some time deciding between nine salads, an assortment of sliders and panino sandwiches, pastas and other entrees. The tapas menu has grilled lamb lollipops with mango sauce and rice, edamame hummus, fries tossed in basil-cilantro-almond pesto with parmesan, crab wonton nachos and more. There are also cheese shareables, like baked brie with balsamic cranberries and pistachios and goat cheese with roasted peppers and cashews, both served with crostini.
Heartier options include the ribeye dinner, moules frites (New Zealand steamed mussels with fries), burgers and pasta dishes. Chihuahua linguine has a chunky tomato sauce simmered with chorizo, peppers and Mexican spices tossed with grilled steak and chipotle sausage with a sprinkling of queso fresco. If there’s room, the house call chocolate dessert is not to be missed; Sous Chef Haydee (aka Mom) will surprise you with a chocolate treat. Other dessert options are panna cotta and a caramel apple crepe.
New to Rulis’ is the Sunday Supper, featuring a different dish each week, Past Sundays have featured shepherd’s pie, gumbo and taco salad. Also new are six additional beer taps bringing the count up to twelve. Visit the restaurant for Ribeye Mondays, Tapas Tuesdays and Wino Wednesdays.
Bonus Veg Snob Notes: Yet another place that I think is overrated, but I have only tried a sandwich and tapas. I don’t like it when places sell sides separately from sandwiches/burgers. When I went for my birthday a couple of years ago, my panini was good, but small. We paid extra for fries and were given a scanty few. The edamame hummus and patatas bravas were pretty good and seasoned well.
Price range: $4-24
It’s a relief to know that Sunset Pizzeria’s brick oven won’t go to waste with the opening of Unrulis. Chef Raul (Rulis) Gonzalez of Rulis’ International Kitchen has applied his signature fusion cooking to salads, pizzas and sandwiches at his new, additional venture. The “Pints” part of the name showcases our region’s breweries with a combination of bottled and canned drinks, as well as 18 taps solely consisting of Texas and New Mexico beers.
The combo called Woodfired Goodness refers to “beercan chicken” (half-chicken roasted with Lone Star beer), which comes with avocado and tortillas. Sandwiches served on bolillo rolls come with roasted veggies, coleslaw or chips. The Chuco cheesesteak salutes El Paso with sliced sirloin tossed with onions and torreado sauce, smothered in jalapeño queso.
10-inch pizzas (gluten-free crust available) are inspired by the southwest, NOLA, Asia and of course, Italy. Don’t confuse the Mexican pizza with Taco Bell; this pizza is topped with refried beans, cheese, steak, jalapeños and avocados. The quirkiest has to be the Green Curry, which gets topped with white sauce and purple-and-yellow cauliflower, broccoli and paneer cheese, tossed in green coconut curry.
Don’t worry if these pizzas are too crazy for you; a make-your-own option is available. Follow them on Facebook to find out about occasional secret menu items.
Bonus Veg Snob Notes: The craft beer concept was a bold move since Unrulis is very close to The Hoppy Monk and Block Table & Tap. This said, I think it’s a genius idea to stand apart by serving a niche selection of beers that are regional. This is a really cool place, so I hate to rag on Chef Rulis twice in one post, but I gotta do it. I’ll need to revisit; maybe these kinks have been resolved. The Green Curry pizza is so creative, but it fell short for me. First off, the server looked at me like I was an alien when I asked if there was fish sauce in the green curry. When my pizza arrived, it was beautiful, but missing something flavorwise, and I didn’t like the texture of the paneer cheese. I think a pan-searing of the paneer or use of tofu instead would have helped immensely. I thought molletes on the menu was a fun concept, but the refried beans tasted canned; a huge offense for a chef and a restaurant in El Paso.
Price Range: $6-16
El Parque Flautas y Antojitos
Beyond the row of chain restaurants in Las Palmas Marketplace lies a small Mexican restaurant. El Parque (The Park) brings the outdoors inside with an abundance of fake foliage and street lamps. The atmosphere is conducive to relaxing over a beer and an appetizer like wings, nachos or Mexican egg rolls (cheese and green chile strips enveloped in an eggroll wrapper).
Typical Mexican fare like enchiladas, tacos and gorditas populate the menu, but you’ll want to skip to their namesake items. Flautas Nortenas comes with six thin and crispy flautas (choice of filling: shredded or ground beef, chicken or potato), sour cream and avocado sauce alongside beans and rice. Flautas Ahogada comes with six ground beef flautas “drowned” in a tomato sauce, topped with cheddar cheese and a side of fries.
A bowl of soup makes the perfect accompaniment to flautas. Sopa Azteca is a hearty bowl of vegetables and hominy in a chicken broth topped with cheese and tortilla strips. Other soup options are caldo de res (beef soup served with rice and corn tortillas) and a creamy Oaxaca potato soup with green chile, cheese and tortilla strips.
Be sure to check out their happy hour Monday through Friday and weekend breakfast buffet with omelet and fruit stations.
Bonus Veg Snob Notes: Typical Mexican restaurant with a Juarez feel. Not very veg friendly; they have potato flautas, but staff says they use lard in beans. Cool place to have a beer and appetizers though.
Price range: $5-11
Children’s menu available.