Little Diner

Chili Parlor | Diner | Mexican | Southwestern | Tex-Mex
Worth driving from anywhere!

Outside El Paso, far from the interstate, and several blocks off the main road that runs through the village of Canutillo, is the Little Diner. Here are the finest flautas and gorditas in West Texas.

Flautas, which means flutes, are tightly rolled, crisp-fried tortillas packed with either seasoned chicken or beef. The chicken is moist and savory, the beef is brisket, cooked until falling-apart tender. About the size of a hefty asparagus stalk, a Little Diner flauta is perfect finger fare: pick it up and crunch away; juices from inside will dribble down your chin.

Gorditas are sandwich pockets made of cornmeal, griddle-cooked then stuffed. They have an earthy corn taste and moist insides with just a hint of flaky crispness all around their skin. Many cafes in this region serve them, but Little Diner’s gorditas are notable for their refined texture and gay orange hue. Inside is ground beef, along with melted cheese, lettuce, and tomato. To spice it up, the restaurant offers dark red, chunky sauce with a Tex-Mex wallop.

Curious about the punch of the table salsa, we visited the kitchen, where two ladies sat at a dinette table hand-shredding cooked brisket for the flautas. Here we found Lourdes Pearson, who bought the Little Diner from her mother, Irene Gallegos, in the early 1990s. Lourdes grew up in the business, and with casual expertise she explained that Sandia peppers were the secret of the sauce. “They have the most heat, so we wouldn’t stuff them for chilies rellenos,” she said. “For rellenos, mild Big Jim peppers are best. We try not to serve anything too terribly hot at the Little Diner. Late in the summer, though, the salsa can get pretty powerful. That is when we get our chilies straight from the Mesilla Valley.”

Lourdes said she buys her chilies from La Union, New Mexico, each autumn during the chili harvest. “I buy as much as I can,” she said. “We roast, peel and stuff them, then freeze them. That will last us through December and January. Then we buy chilies from Mexico.”

What to Eat
Little Diner, Flautas (4)
Flautas (4)
Flauta plate, with the works
Little Diner, Gorditas
Foreground: gordita loaded with chile colorado
Little Diner, Tortilla Chips
Tortilla Chips
Pure chile flavor for dipping warm chips
Little Diner, Chile Relleno
Chile Relleno
Chile relleno; chile from La Union, New Mexico
Little Diner, Green Chili
Green Chili
Chunks of pork star in green chile stew.
Little Diner, Red Chile
Red Chile
Chile con carne: "A bowl of red"
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 8pm
Monday11am - 8pm
Tuesday11am - 8pm
Wednesday11am - 3pm
Thursday11am - 8pm
Friday11am - 8pm
Saturday11am - 8pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
5 stops | 76 MILES | 1 hr 40 min

The Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico is chile central, where the best are grown and where the hot pod is enjoyed at every meal. If you want to savor the state's official co-vegetable (with the pinto bean) at its finest, check out this all-chile itinerary. Have breakfast at Nellie's, where the motto is "A…

13 stops | 347 MILES | 5 hr 56 min

The Royal Road

One of the most delicious American Byways is El Camino Real ("The Royal Road") through New Mexico. In addition to spectacular natural beauty, travelers will encounter all kinds of opportunities to savor one of the nation's most distinctive regional cuisines, much of which is based around the state's two official co-vegetables: the…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Chope’s

    La Mesa, New Mexico

    In the heart of New Mexico chile growing country, Chope’s is the locals’ favorite place to go for chilies rellenos, enchiladas, tamales, and tacos.

  • Nopalito

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    Excellent New Mexico food at family-run Nopalito of Las Cruces: crisp-edged chilies rellenos, stacked enchiladas with beans and cheese and a fried egg on top.

  • H&H Cafe & Car Wash

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    El Paso’s H&H Cafe is also a car wash, providing travelers the opportunity to savor excellent Tex-Mex food then get on the road in a sparkling clean car.

  • Nellie’s

    Las Cruces, New Mexico

    A sign on the wall in Nellie’s of Las Cruces says: “A day without chile is like a day without sunshine.” No problem on this fine chile-centric New Mexico menu!

  • La Posta de Mesilla

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    A landmark restaurant serving true New Mexico fare, La Posta is a magical dinner destination in the Mesilla Valley.

  • Mesilla Valley BBQ

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    With its menu of ribs, brisket, sandwiches, four types of sausage, and a burnt ends salad, Mesilla Valley BBQ is a smoked-meat oasis in southern New Mexico.