Some of the most memorable vacation moments happen when you feel like you’re just one of the locals. Enjoying those quirky shops, delicious neighborhood restaurants and surprising experiences always makes your trip unforgettable.
As you plan your getaway to the most historic area of El Paso, the Mission Trail, consider visiting some great local places for an authentic travel experience. Be sure your plans coincide with each mission’s hours of operation. A good idea is to start at the San Elizario Presidio Chapel (7 a.m.–11 a.m.) then visit the Socorro Mission (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) and, lastly, the Ysleta Mission (10 a.m.–4 p.m.). The perfect time to start your tour in San Elizario may be 10 a.m. The chapel will still be open, and the galleries are coming to life. (Most open at 10 a.m. and are closed only on Monday and Tuesday.)
Here is a break down of local favorites surrounding the area of each mission. Enjoy!
Start your day with a peaceful almuerzo (breakfast) or a early lunch at the only patio restaurant on the Mission Trail, El Bandido Cantina & Restaurant, 1591 Main St. Enjoy patio dining as you bask in the wonderful Southwest weather and admire the view of 400 years of history.
A few steps away from El Bandido and the historic San Elizario Presidio Chapel thrives an amazing local artist presence with a variety of different art galleries featuring local and regional artists. Get a glimpse of artists painting their next masterpiece, giving art talks, or if you call in advance, you can sign up for your very own art lesson. Special Note: An El Paso Mission Trail Art Market is held on every third Sunday of the month and features over 50 artisans from around the region, displaying art, photography, pottery, jewelry and home accents.
With so much history and art, San Elizario (San Eli to locals) has transformed into a half-day adventure. As you leave the heart of this little town and head west toward the other missions, check out the Licon Dairy and Petting Zoo, 11951 Glorietta Rd. Famous for its fresh azaderos cheese and FREE petting zoo, this is your chance to get up close and personal with ponies, donkeys, goats, llamas and even a camel. After petting a few animals and taking some fun photos, it’s time to get back on the road. But, don’t forget the asaderos!
As you travel towards the Socorro Mission on one of the oldest roads in the country, aim to drive slowly so that you won’t miss the entrances to some of the most charming shops and restaurants on the trail.
Las Misiones Arts and Crafts, 10520 Socorro Road, is a small boutique where you can find authentic treasures brought from Mexico. From home décor to jewelry, paintings to trinkets, there is something for everyone. A little closer to the Socorro Mission you will find one of the only independent bookstores in the region, The Bookery, 10167 Socorro Road. Housed in one of the oldest buildings in the area, the interior is filled with hundreds of books, fun postcards and a wide selection of children’s toys and puppets. Perfect mementos for you or your family!
Are you feeling thirsty? For the coldest beers and margaritas on the trail, stop at El Meson de Oñate, 9993 Socorro Road. Pair that cold drink with a traditional dish like chile rellenos, batter-dipped, golden fried, cheese stuffed green chiles. No matter which dish you pick, all entrees are made from scratch. Special Note: If you fall in love with the furniture at El Meson de Oñate, ask to talk to Blanca.
She and her husband own the Mission Cabinet Shop (next door to the restaurant), and he can custom make whatever you can dream up. They ship all over the US.
With some local souvenirs in hand, thirst quenched, craving for Mexican food satiated and a camera filled with beautiful pictures, its time to head to the oldest mission in Texas, the Ysleta Mission.
You did save room for dessert, didn’t you? Bowie Bakery, 9757 Socorro Road, is a dessert lover’s paradise. A long display case of traditional Mexican pastries from Pan Dulce (sweet bread topped with sugar), Empanadas (Mexican turnovers) and oversized Mexican cookies awaits you! With so many choices, it’s really hard to pick just one.
When you need to kick back and relax for a while, stop at Tacos X Cuatro, 9618 Socorro Road. The specialty here is Mexican food with a twist, and it’s the only place on the Mission Trail to offer Chocoflan, a chocolate twist to a classic Mexican custard dessert.
For a better understanding of the Ysleta Mission and the strong cultural ties with the Tigua Indians, the Tigua Cultural
Center, 305 Yaya Lane, is a fantastic stop for any history buff.
With five centuries of Pueblo history and tradition, the Tigua Cultural Center educates and entertains visitors and locals alike. It houses several gift shops as well as an interesting Tigua museum. Come experience the magic of traditional Pueblo dance as the Tigua youth dancers give special performances every Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
At the end of the day, we’ll bet that your visit to the historic Mission Trail was filled with a little education, experimentation and a whole lot of local fun.