POSTED: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 5:44pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 5:32pm
A new cookbook that's out today highlights 75 of the best dives across the nation. And an El Paso restaurant has what it takes to have been chosen by a "Southern Living" magazine food critic.
H & H car wash is putting El Paso on the culinary map with two delicious recipes featured in a new cookbook: "Southern Living Off the Eaten Path".
"I traveled approximately 10,000 miles last summer in an old 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, going around to the restaurants and revisiting the ones I know I loved," said author Morgan Murphy.
Murphy is a travel editor and food critic for "Southern Living" magazine. After writing "Off the Eaten Path", the Navy reservist was called up to serve in Afghanistan and he's a couple of days shy of finishing his tour of duty. "I get to come home and go on a book tour and go to fancy restaurants," said Murphy.
Murphy says there were three criteria he was looking for when choosing which 75 restaurants across the nation would get in the book: "Food first, then the ambiance, then the service," said Murphy. "A great restaurant is more than just about the food. It's also about the theater that goes in there that's an experience."
Murphy wound up choosing only five restaurants in the entire state of Texas for the honors. "H & H was my favorite out of all of West Texas. What a fun little place. You get your car washed and get a great meal," said Murphy.
"It fires us up," said H & H Car Wash owner Maynard Haddad. "We're blessed with all this stuff and we're grateful for it and of course, we don't take it serious, because if you don't take care of business, this stuff doesn't mean anything."
And Haddad, who runs the restaurant with his brother Kenny, knows about taking care of business. He opened H & H in 1958, along with his dad and his brother, Johnny. Later, his brother, Kenny, joined the family business. H & H welcomes between 150 to 200 customers every day.
"I've been coming here for 30 years," said Francisco Elias. "Get my car washed, get a good meal, hand wash on my car, shoe shines, I mean this is the place to be at."
And although Francisco can't decide what his favorite item on the menu is, Murphy prefers the chile relleno and he also chose the carne picada burrito to be featured in his cookbook.
Maynard says he is humbled that his small family business has thrived for more than half a century and become such a beloved part of El Paso.
"Thank you and thank El Paso and thank you UTEP. We love you all," said Haddad.
How do you get your hands on the book? You can get it online at barnesandnoble.com. The price: a bargain at $14.47.