Downtown El Paso

And Kern Place too! Visit chic salons, an indie press, and a cool old theater in this city on the Rio Grande.
Downtown El Paso
Crave Kitchen and Bar
Photograph by Erin Trieb

1. Crave Kitchen and Bar

Smack in the middle of El Paso’s Cincinnati Entertainment District is this industrial-cool restaurant that attracts everyone from college kids to suits. Inexpensive yet chic design solutions generate a big impact: Outside, a marquee-style arrow glows with yellow bulbs to amp up the drab facade, while inside several thousand utensils hang by butcher’s string from the ceiling. Four-top tables and communal dining areas make chowing down a cozy affair. For breakfast try the pumpkin fritters and peppered bacon. Lunch and dinner menus satisfy with lager-and-sharp-cheddar soup and buttermilk-fried chicken and waffles. 300 Cincinnati Ave., 915-351-3677, cravekitchenandbar.com

2. WestEnd Hair Company and Day Spa

Exposed brick walls, handsome rattan-and-wood seating, and drum-shade pendant lighting keep this full-service Aveda concept salon and spa from being too girlie. For an afternoon pick-me-up, stop in at this Kern Place oasis for the Westend Signature pedicure and soak your tired tootsies in a green-glass-tiled tub. Feet and legs are massaged with soothing essential oils that can be bought in-house. Chamomile teas and cucumber water are refreshing during day visits, but beer and wine are on the house in the evenings, when the spa is open until seven. 2626 N. Stanton, 915-833-4050, estendhaircompany.com

3. Hommework

It may look as if your abuelita lives in this traditional adobe-style, clay-roof house, but open the door to this men’s clothing store and the thumping dance music will set you straight. Style-conscious guys will love Creative Recreation footwear, sparsely displayed on vintage school desks; modern Cassius sunglasses that look out from tall, sleek cabinets; and no-frills, pleasantly economical button-downs and pullovers by Shades of Greige that hang among a small but well-curated selection of menswear. Assorted tomes dedicated to product designers Marc Newson and Karim Rashid offer a cerebral counterpoint to the clublike atmosphere. 2419 N. Stanton, 915-533-8377, hommeworkshop.com

4. The Dome Bar

Tucked inside the gold-trimmed marble lobby of the Camino Real Hotel, this lounge—named for the stained glass dome designed for the hotel in 1912 by Louis Comfort Tiffany—manages to be full of nostalgic charm without any of the stuffiness. Young couples mingle with the old guard around the circular bar, creating a come-one, come-all vibe. Venture here for a nightcap after a show at the Plaza Theatre or a screening at the El Paso Museum of Art, both across the street. 101 S. El Paso, 915-534-3000, caminoreal.com

5. El Paso Museum of Art

It’s hard to miss the modern electric-blue entrance on this end of downtown. Take a quiet stroll through the galleries for peeks at works by Diego Rivera, Edgar Degas, Donald Judd, and, through June 21, the portraiture of Manuel G. Acosta. And while centuries-old paintings and more-contemporary pieces are standard here, it’s the high-energy evening events that reel in culture vultures. On 3rd Thursdays the museum teems with locals who want live entertainment, food, and drinks with their art. One Arts Festival Plaza, 915-532-1707, elpasoartmuseum.org

6. The Plaza Theatre

Originally opened in 1930, the Plaza Theatre was once billed as the largest facility for stage and screen between Dallas and Los Angeles. But after television took hold in the fifties, attendance faded and so did the Plaza’s glory days. Recently restored to its rococo splendor, it now attracts everyone from Tony Bennett and the Jonas Brothers to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and Broadway shows. Tours of the building are offered once a week and picture taking is encouraged. 125 Pioneer Plaza, 915-231-1100, theplazatheatre.org

7. Cinco Puntos Press

Since 1985, this family-owned and -operated indie publishing house has been churning out fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books on social justice issues around the world. The crayon-bright storefront is small, but the shop has a stellar selection of hardbacks and paperbacks that were created from start to finish on the premises. Kiddos can learn the alphabet with ABeCedarios, a bilingual look at the ABC’s through Mexican folk art, and adults can brush up on U.S.Mexico relations with David Dorado Romo’s Ringside Seat to a Revolution . 701 Texas Ave., 915-838-1625, cincopuntos.com

Tags: EL PASO,

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