Below, you will see the first, of hopefully many, interviews with El Pasoans. I wanted to get your take on why you love this city. Be looking for this segment every Sunday. If you would like to be interviewed or know someone who would, please contact me; livingelpaso[at]gmail.com
For our first interview, I would like to introduce Katherine Vandertulip, Marketing Coordinator for the El Paso Museum of History. You can follow her on twitter @katwoodstulip
- What is your occupation?
I am the Marketing Coordinator for the El Paso Museum of History.
- How long have you lived in El Paso and have you ever lived anywhere else?
I have lived in El Paso for 26ish years. I went to school in Savannah, Georgia for four years, went to school and lived in Lacoste, France for a quarter, lived a summer in the SF Bay area, and lived in New York City for about a year.
- What do you think makes El Paso stand out from the rest of the crowd?
El Paso has some of the friendliest people I know. It could be the lithium in the water. Whatever it is, everyone here just has a kind of groovy personality that is welcoming.
- Do you believe a revival of downtown is necessary for El Paso to become a successful city?
I think that a revitalized downtown El Paso is the key to a successful El Paso. The overall impression on a city’s downtown sets the tone for how the rest of the community is perceived. Look at Savannah. Savannah has a beautiful, super-southern downtown, with bars, restaurants, outdoor spaces, and fantastic architecture. The rest of Savannah is completely different and like every other city: suburbia. People visit Savannah’s downtown and walk away thinking that everyone is fanning themselves on a gigantic porch and drinking sweet tea. And that’s OK. Tourists should come to El Paso’s downtown, eat Mexican food, buy boots, drink a margarita and go away with an overall fantastic impression of El Paso. They don’t necessarily need to do much more than that. If they enjoy it the first time, they can come back again and explore more. The rest will follow. As far as residents are concern, people should not complain about not having anything to do if as they do is stay in their comfort zone. They should explore their city and support an up and coming downtown. Embrace the change!
- What does your ideal downtown El Paso look like?
My ideal downtown is filled with beautiful, conserved, original architecture, flourishing galleries and museums, unique boutiques, and bold restaurants. (Food is going to be a theme in my post, readers!) Oh and more manmade shade. Let’s get real El Pasoans, trees are not going to grow as fast as we want them to. Shade needs to be installed downtown to attract pedestrian traffic, otherwise it is a very hot concrete jungle.
- What is your favorite activity to do in El Paso?
I would say eating, but I think the next question covers that. I love going to estate sales, thrift stores, and generally just junking around. El Paso is a treasure trove of the beautiful, bizarre and whimsical antiques, home furnishings, vintage stuff, that nowhere, I mean nowhere has. It is always a hunt to find amazing things but that is all part of the fun.
- What is your favorite local restaurant in town?
I am a definite foodie so it is hard to spotlight one favorite restaurant, it’s more like what’s my favorite dish at any given restaurant. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:
10. Bean and Chile con Queso Burritos at La Colonial Tortilla Factory
9. Machaca at Lucy’s with a micheleda from King’s X
8. Tripas from Barrigos
7. Tortas from the lady that sells tortas outside of all the gay bars.
6. Pork Belly Tacos from Valentine’s
5. The Pate du France Sandwich from Spec’s
4. Poutine from Tom’s Folk Café
3. Quitinis from Thyme Matters
2. Sashami or Tuna Sandwich from Crave
1. Chile Rellenos from Avila’s
Can you tell I like to eat?
- If you could bring one store to El Paso, what would it be?
Whole Foods/Trader Joes. I am not outdoorsy at all but I think an REI could do really well here with all of the outdoor activities available in El Paso.
- What are the strong qualities of our city?
Friendly people. Fantastic Climate. CHEAP.
- What can are some areas that we need to focus on to make ourselves more attractive to keeping homegrown talent here and also attract out of town companies to open up offices in our area?
I think when recruiters seek people to come to El Paso there is too much emphasis on, “Well we don’t have [insert awful chain restaurant that gives you a 20 pound, sodium saturated, cheese covered meal here], but we do have a Chili’s!”. Why focus on what every other mid-sized city has, seek the different. You never hear someone say, “Oh man, we love going to Denver to visit the 1st Quiznos and Chipotle!”. No they say, “Wow, I love going to Denver for the outdoors, concerts and to be with a bunch of cool hippies”. People should be tempted to come to El Paso for our growing music and art scene, food, weather, not what we don’t have.
- What are some ways you would try to put out a positive message to the rest of the region and country that El Paso is a great place to live, work, and explore?
I would love to see more National media/programming about El Paso. We had Antique Roadshow, which was a very positive experience for El Paso and showed it in a fantastic light. What about El Paso courting other fun t.v. shows like Bizarre Foods, House Hunters, etc.? We don’t need direct commercials about El Paso, we need guerilla buzz.
- When a person not from here asks you about El Paso, what do you say?
You have to see it, to believe it.
- Chicos Tacos…Yes or No?
Chico’s Tacos are a must. Everyone says they’re better when you’re drunk. I love to go to one on Alameda with my mother, right when they open, so I don’t consider that assessment an absolute truth. They are delicious anytime of the day.
So there you have it, our first interview…special thank you to Katherine for taking the time to answer these questions. Tomorrow, I’ve got some thoughts/ideas on airport food choices and a couple tweets I sent out to the company that is in charge of putting those restaurants in place.
My name is David and I am living El Paso.