Little Shack in El Paso delivers big flavor

Please note: I haven’t been able to write much since my husband’s stroke on March 13, when I found my incredibly healthy, strong, fit husband on the bathroom floor and our lives became a swirling alternate reality. Thank you all for healing prayers, good vibes, love and support as we fight the biggest battle of our lives – miracles are happening every day!

This is not how I wanted to be eating at restaurants, and I am in no way making light of our incredibly serious situation, please know that. 

Having spent since March 13th in El Paso while my husband is in ICU following an unexpected, massive hemorrhagic stroke, I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and stop eating at restaurants. I have no doubt he’s ready for that as well. 

There are, however, a couple restaurants that I’d eat at least once a week.

I’m actually writing this column while nibbling on leftover chips and queso from Taco Cabana while I count the minutes until I get to spend the allotted two hours of visitation with my beloved husband.

I forget to eat these days, my comfort food is coming in the form of chips, queso, tacos and enchiladas, with my amazing daughter practically force-feeding me. She flew in from Maine the moment I contacted her and has been my backbone through this worst time. 

With El Paso being the location that many of us Far West Texans have to travel for extended hospital stays, doctor visits, shopping trips and when we need a taste of city-life, I am learning so much I didn’t know before we were forced to be here for an extended period.

And, thanks to a respiratory specialist at the hospital, we discovered a fantastic new place to eat. Well, new to me anyway… it’s called Little Shack, and they have five locations around El Paso that I never even noticed before. How I never noticed Mexican Seafood before is a wonder. 

Maybe that’s because it’s in fact, a little shack. Inside, it felt like we were at a restaurant in Port Aransas with nautical and beachy décor, rather than smack dab on the border between El Paso and Juarez Mexico.

They basically serve tacos, chalupas, ceviche and a dish called aguachiles that is now on my “favorite things” list. Your meat choices are fish, shrimp, pork, steak and octopus for tacos and chalupas. 

Dare I say they were the best tacos I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant? 

It’s super casual, and BYOB with a small fee for whatever beverage you bring. We just had water. I don’t need a fancy place to eat tacos.

My husband introduced me to fish tacos many years ago, and I think I fell more in love with him after the first bite. We make shrimp tacos at home often, or at least as often as we can get good shrimp for the tacos. 

With shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado, creamy lime sauce and a spritz of extra lime juice, we send our taste buds to the coast with that meal. I look forward to adding aguachiles to our menu at home now.

Aguachiles

1 lb fresh shrimp

serrano chilies, stemmed and rough chopped 

5 -6 limes, juiced 

1⁄3 cup cilantro

1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt

1⁄2 small red onion, finely sliced 

 1⁄3 cucumber

1  avocado, sliced 

A big bowl of your favorite tortilla chips.

 Butterfly and devein your shrimp. Using a sharp knife, cut each shrimp lengthwise along the back. For larger shrimp, cut them cleanly into two halves. For smaller shrimp, do not cut all the way through so that the two halves stay together. Once open, remove the gray line of guts running through the center of the shrimp.

In a blender, add the chilies, lime juice, cilantro, and the first teaspoon of salt. Blend until the chilies are just broken up. Don’t worry about making a smooth paste. A few chunks of chili are not a problem.

Cover the shellfish with the blended sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 – 20 minutes. You will know it’s done when the surface of the shellfish begins to turn opaque and white. If the sauce does not completely cover the shellfish, stir the mixture after about 5 minutes to ensure it marinates evenly.

While the shellfish is marinating, peel the cucumber and scrape out the seeds. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

To serve Add the cucumber to the bowl of shellfish and toss to combine. Spoon the shellfish, cucumber and sauce into a large flat serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top with the sliced onions and serve with tortilla chips and sliced avocados.

5 thoughts on “Little Shack in El Paso delivers big flavor

  1. Oh Krysta, I so sorry to hear about your hubs, but I’m glad to know he is doing better. I pray for his quick recovery and your continued strength.

    I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never been to The Little Shack, and I live here! Lol
    Well, now I have to make it a point to go and visit. Are you still here? If so please let me know if you guys need anything, I’ll be more than happy to take you anything, just let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much, Veronica – I was blessed beyond measure to have a new friend (she’s the daughter of some of my Fort Davis friends and grew up in FD) offer me indefinite use of their casita at their farm on the far West Side. I am able to have our two Jack Russell Terrier/Terror/Terrorist pups with us and I’m able to take them to visit Bob at the rehab hospital, too! I’ve been here since March 13 (18 trips to University Medical Center) and have made a couple day runs back to FD for mail and to love on the pets there. We are grateful to have wonderful neighbors taking care of the house and critters.

    I made my most recent updates on Facebook public so they can be seen… I know you don’t “do” social media but public posts allow creeping 😉 It’s so peaceful and beautiful here, and I’m only 15 miles from the rehab hospital (I won’t say the name but it’s close to UTEP).

    I’m getting ready to take the puppies to see him shortly, as the first time I did it yesterday, he started moving his left leg – which was unresponsive until he got the puppy-love!

    The supernatural and miraculous healing is courtesy of everyone’s prayers, and because of Bob’s strength. I keep telling him this is just a bump in our long road of living our best life – and he agreed.

    Had I known EP was like THIS, I might’ve pushed to move here!!! The house across the street is actually in New Mexico – it doesn’t get any farther West Texas than that 🙂

    Big grateful hugs,
    Krysta

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    1. Thank you so much! It’s still so surreal to think this is actually happening. We just spent five ours of puppy therapy with him (they mostly all snuggled and slept – I’m glad puppies sleep so much!) and I fed him dinner instead of a nurse doing it. I feel so helpless. He’s my strong, brilliant, extremely talented man – the most dynamic person I’ve ever known. When we were first dating, I’d refer to him as “The Fabulous Man” on social media, and as we approach our 9th wedding anniversary and he’s in rehabilitation, he’s still the most fabulous man I know. ❤

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      1. Yours is a truly inspiring love story and your devotion warms my heart. So many people do not appreciate the gift of love, or the value of every minute with their loved one. Sharing your story is a kindness and inspiration to all. Take good care of that fabulous man, and yourself!💕

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