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Riviera Restaurant

5218 Doniphan Dr.
El Paso, TX
(915) 584-1542

Riviera Restaurant has operated since 1948

Riviera is rather hard to categorize. In operation since 1948, new management took over several years ago and the food changed along with it. While it was originally a New Mexico style restaurant, the food became more like the typical El Paso style, although I still classify it as "New Mexico" because of the way the red enchiladas are prepared. The spiciness level varies between "New Mexico hot" and "El Paso semi-spicy," and this is probably consistent with using New Mexico chiles which vary in heat according to the time of year and where the chiles originated.

Under the old management Riviera served Red Enchiladas that I considered to be the best in El Paso. They are still good and are still made with New Mexico style chile, but the quality is not as consistent as before, and they sometimes have too strong of a corn oil taste.

Chips and salsa
Chips and salsa are consistently good

While the Salsa has become somewhat inconsistent, it has been excellent recently. Along with the thick and flavorful Chips, this is probably one of the better pre-meal set-ups in El Paso.

Riviera probably has the best Slaw in town other than at Griggs (and now served at Peppe's in Canutillo since Griggs closed). The one here is usually a bit too sour, but tastes very good.

The Rice has a little too much garlic, but is still good. The Pot Beans are a little too salty, but very enjoyable.

I never thought the Green Enchiladas were as good as the red, even at the "old" Riviera.

Flautas
Riviera's flautas are good with chicken

An order of Flautas comes with three large rolled tacos with either beef or chicken. The guacamole and sour cream that come with it are rather standard, and Riviera uses too much corn oil to cook the tortilla shells. The chicken flautas have better than average meat, however, which goes a long way to offset the negative features.

Burritos and other menu items I have tried have been less than impressive.

One of the best deals at Riviera is Monday night "taco night," with a choice of several very good Tacos available at a very good price-- currently $1.25 (this was raised from the original price of 99 cents). Beef, chicken, avocado, guacamole, and bean tacos are all available at this price-- the only one I think is unavailable is the deshebrada (shredded beef) taco. My main complaint about the tacos is that the shells have a "corn oil" flavor, similar to my complaint about several other dishes.

Other specials are available on other days, and are mostly regular menu items served in reduced quantities. I find these specials to be just the right size for dinner, with most of the regular dinners coming in portions that I think are much too large.

Riviera is open for breakfast every day and serves enchiladas montadas, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, Mexican omelettes, etc. I enjoy the breakfasts, but I find many of the items to be too expensive (but good).

Riviera's policy of not making substitutions on the combination plates is very annoying.

The vegetable oil used for cooking might be a good thing except for the fact that I think far too much is used so that the oil flavor permeates just about all the food that is served. I do not remember this being the case at the "old" Riviera.

Paintings by local artists
Paintings by local artists adorn the walls, and are for sale

The service is usually excellent. Even though the restaurant has a "no substitution" policy, the servers can many times find a way to get you what you want (sometimes by making a la carte orders).

The big screen TV is usually pretty enjoyable while eating (the sound is turned down so you can hold a conversation). Monday night "taco nights" are usually combined with a good game that you can watch on TV. The other dining room without the TV should be more relaxing, except for the fact that I find the music to be far too loud and very annoying.

Riviera seems to change its operating hours quite frequently, and I have been turned away at times that I thought it was open (even when the restaurant seemed to be full of customers).

In the past I had an issue with the fact that the management let the parking lot degrade to the point that the handicapped spaces could not be distinguished. The same thing seems to be happening again in 2007. While no restaurant is perfect, Riviera seems to have more than its share of this type of issue.

The main reasons I find to go to Riviera are for the chips, salsa, slaw, and to get one of the daily specials at a good price and a reasonable portion size. The red enchiladas used to be great and sometimes they are still very good. I do miss the days of the "old" Riviera, however.

RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 19

Cuisine: Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Drinks
Special Features: Serves Breakfast

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
Mar. 13, 2007

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Red Enchiladas, Chicken Tacos, Chips, Salsa

Special Ratings
Red Enchiladas:
Chicken Tacos:
Chicken Fajitas:
Chicken Flautas:
Slaw:
Chips:
Salsa:



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