Juárez residents wait in long bridge lines to shop at El Paso stores like Walmart and Ross Dress for Less — affectionately known as La Ross — but there are shopping experiences in Juárez well-worth the trip for El Pasoans, too.
There are clothing stores in Juárez you can't find in El Paso and market experiences that are uniquely Mexican. With the U.S. dollar historically strong against the peso, there are some products that will seem less expensive in Juárez than in El Paso. And you're guaranteed to find options for inexpensive, delicious food everywhere you go, from street stalls to white-tablecloth restaurants.
Most stores and dine-in restaurants take debit and credit cards, but you might want to check first with your financial institution about whether you'll be charged foreign transaction fees. Your best bet is traveling with cash and stopping by one of the many currency exchanges for pesos, which are running about 19 to the dollar.
Here are three day trips for a south-of-the-border holiday shopping experience.
Unleash your inner fresa
The Spanish word for strawberry is also Mexican slang for someone who is posh and fashionable — or who wants to act and dress like they are posh and fashionable. Channel your inner fresa with a stroll through Plaza Las Misiones mall.
Inside you'll find high-end shops for a variety of styles. Mexico's Cuadra — which has stores in Las Vegas and Austin and but not El Paso — sells high-end Western wear and boots ranging from $200 to $500 in ostrich, manta ray and alligator. Don't miss a Netherlands-based brand called C&A that offers trendy fashions for men, women and children; the store is huge and your U.S. dollars will go a long way. Also, check out Cuidado con el Perro — a brand that describes itself as 100% mexicano — for clothes it describes as "urban lifestyle." Plaza Las Misiones / Blvd. Teófilo Borunda 8682.
If you go early, stop at Burritos Crisostomo across the street for breakfast. They offer a dozen different guisados for fillings and the flour tortillas are made on the spot. Try Crisostomo's terciado de barbacoa with traditional slow-cooked beef, beans and avocado. If you shop later in the afternoon, grab a meal at La Cabaña Steakhouse for traditional Mexican fare and drinks. Order the beef fajita plate or — if you worked up a serious appetite — try the molcajete Cabaña, a volcanic rock bowl with beef, chicken, pork carnitas and a bacon-wrapped chile relleno. Sometimes there's live music, too.
Shop the city's creative side
Start shopping before you even leave El Paso by browsing the online catalog of Dos Tintas graphic design studio online via Facebook or @dostintasjrz on Instagram. This design-and-print shop makes custom T-shirts and sweatshirts of its own designs or yours. They do riffs on pop culture, from Selena to "Stranger Things." Drop them a message on social media with a design you'd like printed, or describe what you're looking for, and they'll send a design to you. T-shirts start at 180 pesos, or about $9, and sweatshirts at 350 pesos, or $18. Dos Tintas / Calle 21 de Marzo 4551, Col. Los Nogales.
If artesanías are your thing, start at Mercado Cuauhtémoc in the city's historic center. The market is one of the few traditional mercados left in Juárez. Inside is a maze of stalls selling Mexican pottery, crafts, clothing, blankets, herbs, cheeses and much more. Mercado Cuauhtémoc / Calle Ignacio Mariscal, Col. Centro.
Before you pick up your merch at Dos Tintas, stop by Panadería Rezizte for pan dulce and a café americano. Artist and baker Jorge Pérez, better known as Yorch, also has screen prints for sale at his Los EnTin-tan store next door — his own art and other pieces produced by members of the Rezizte collective of artists for which his bakery is named. Panadería Rezizte / Ave. 16 de Septiembre 758, Col. Partido Romero.
Before you head home, drop by a local arts-and-crafts store known as a papelería. These mom-and-pop shops are often tucked inside neighborhoods or strip malls and offer an old-school experience in which an attendant will find you whatever you need, most of which is stored behind a counter. Fancy pens? Check. Paper of different weights and gloss? Check. These paper-and-more stores are also great locations for buying boxes, wrapping paper and ribbons for your holiday gifts. Check out Papelería Los Santos / Ave. Valentín Fuentes Varela 1631, Col. Los Álamos.
Thrift till you drop
Everyone loves a bargain, and Juárez is a fantastic place to shop thrift. Massive supplies of secondhand clothing are exported to Juárez from the U.S., and the prices you can find easily beat Savers or Goodwill in El Paso.
The best place to shop secondhand in Juárez is among the city's many outdoor markets known as las segundas. Merchants set up stalls one after another on certain days in certain locations, and you can easily spend a day haggling your way to a new-old wardrobe. Check out the secondhand market that winds along Calle Benemérito de las Américas, Col. Casas Grandes, starting near the corner of Avenida Valentín Fuentes. The market is open Thursday to Sunday.
Don't shop hungry: Nearby is an outpost of the city's famous Barbacoa El Güero. Drive up and an attendant will take your order for tacos de barbacoa or a lonche sandwich on bolillo bread. Act like a local and pair it with a glass-bottled Mexican Coca-Cola from the convenience store across the street.
If wading through piles of clothes isn't your thing but you love vintage, check out Vintage Santa Cecilia, a small-but-packed shop with curated vintage clothes, objects and antique furniture. Vintage Santa Cecilia / Ave. De La Raza, Col. El Futuro.
Pro-tip for your return trip: Load up your favorite podcasts or music play list and the bridge line on the way back will go by in a snap.
Lauren Villagran can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @laurenvillagran or Instagram @fronteravillagran.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Borderland day trip: Three ways to holiday shop in Juarez