Coming home to El Paso for the holidays? If you are from the West Side, going to Avilas is like checking in on Facebook. It is something that has to be done. You are guaranteed to run into at least one person you know. Whatever size your group they will get you a table quick. If you go at lunch time, you will see some first dates, pre-date lunchtime romances from the Coronado kids. If it is before a holiday it is an ad hoc class reunion. Service is good and speedy. Everyone in my family has their thing that they order.
They quickly bring some fresh made tortillas chips and house made salsa. One is hot and the other is not. You be the judge. I always order #8. Cheese chile rellenos. I love the sopaillas I don’t need a menu. Krista gets crispy beef tacos because that is what she always has. Cameron gets crunchy tacos too, Maddie likes soup & rice and their Momma Amy gets a 1/2 order of chicken fajitas. Andy also likes the fajitas or the combo-Enchiladas, taco, chile rellenos, guacamole. All of the above with beans and rice. Don’t forget to save room for the Sopapillas. Fresh and hot with honey. If you didn’t leave room, make some!
For more than 50 years, Avila’s Restaurant has been dishing out quality Mexican food and consistent good service. Andy Avila, who runs the Avila’s at 6232 N. Mesa, with his sister Annette Avila Chavez, said not much has changed — either in food or service — since his grandfather Evaristo Avila and his father, Guillermo Avila, opened the business in 1952 in the Toltec Building Downtown.
Devoted diners may be surprised to find that the owners of Avila’s are related to the owners of another popular Mexican restaurant and Best of the Border nominee — Leo’s. Evaristo Avila married Carmen Terrazas — the sister of Leo’s co-founder Willie Terrazas Sr.
In fact, the Avila elders opened their restaurant under the name Leo’s. It wasn’t until a few locations later, when Andy Avila’s brother Bill Avila and his wife, Carol, opened his restaurant on the East Side in 1983, that the two restaurants became Avila’s.
After decades of running their restaurants, the Avilas are sure they have seen generations of families at their restaurants.
“We’re probably on the fifth generation … and half of our customers don’t even open their menus. They just order the same thing,” Bill Avila said. I don’t know that we are 5 generations deep but we are at least three. It is a family tradition.