This Essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Living close to the U.S.-Mexico border has always made it easy for me to experience two different cultures and cities on a daily basis.
Driving, or even walking, from El Paso, TX, to Ciudad Juarez, MX, for an appointment, to get some groceries, or even to have a coffee in a different country is certainly a fun very common activity when you live in a border area.
Some things and services can be way cheaper on the Mexican side, and the quality can even be so much better.
Here are six things that I prefer doing in Mexico over the U.S. side, based on my experience as a border-city resident.
Eating at Mexican restaurants
La Feria Restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, MX.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
This is a huge favorite of mine!
Border cities in the southern U.S. usually have an extensive variety of Mexican restaurants due to their proximity to Mexico. However, nothing can beat the experience of getting Mexican food in its place of origin.
The culture, the ambiance and the freshness of a restaurant in Mexico feel totally different. You will never find yellowish sweet tortillas in a taco place and enchiladas will have the most authentic taste compared to Texas' Tex-Mex cuisine.
Also, those who love spicy food can be assured that they’ll find all the salsas they want.
In Ciudad Juarez, a lot of food trucks and stands sell Mexican street food. These are my personal go-to's whenever I’m craving barbacoa, birria, or "tripitas" tacos.
Burritos in this city are also on another level! A theory says that a street vendor in Ciudad Juarez invented this dish in the 1940s by wrapping his food in a tortilla to keep it warm during his travels.
Visiting local shops & boutiques
Nude Clothing and More shop in Ciudad Juarez, MX.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
Finding local entrepreneurs, designers, and artists is much easier on the Mexican side of the El Paso-Mexican border.
I’m a huge fan of shopping locally and I always have a good experience when it comes to finding unique products in Juarez boutiques.
These are also my favorite spots when I’m looking for a birthday or Christmas gift as a lot of the stores sell very particular items. Finding handmade jewelry or coffee mugs, hair products made out of natural ingredients, or hand-painted purses and denim jackets always makes me feel like I found treasure gold.
Shopping Mexican grocery brands
Freskas Mexican candy.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
Although there are some restricted products that you can’t take back into the U.S., grocery shopping in Mexico can be much cheaper, and is a totally different experience when it comes to labels.
Ciudad Juarez supermarkets carry a wide variety of brands that you can’t easily find in the States. If you’re a Mexican food lover as I am, these stores offer a lot of canned products, snacks, coffee, and many other items that are particular to Mexico.
Mexican sweets like obleas, marzipan, Glorias, and all types of candy can even be found at the register.
Medication bought after a doctor's visit in Ciudad Juarez, MX.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
I’m the type of person that likes to visit the doctor as soon as I feel that something is not in order with my body. Being able to see experts in Ciudad Juarez has made my life so much better!
First of all, if you want to go see a medical specialist on the Mexican side, you don’t have to necessarily go through a primary doctor visit first, like in the U.S.
Also, booking a physician’s appointment will most likely be a smooth and easy thing to do. You’ll find yourself at the specialist’s office in a matter of hours or a few days.
Money-wise, doctor’s visits are much cheaper in Mexico than in the States. While you pay hundreds of dollars to see a specialist on the American side, doctors in Juarez charge the equivalent of around $30 to $50 dollars for a consultation. The same goes for dentists.
Going to the gym and doing fitness classes
Selfie after a barre class in Ciudad Juarez, MX.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
Although I like going to fitness classes and the gym on both sides of the border, installations feel more unique in Ciudad Juarez as they’re usually run by local owners.
On the Texas side, you’ll see a lot of places that you can also find in different cities across the country. Ciudad Juarez also has their big chain places, but it is more common to find academies and gyms that have their particular ambiance and decoration.
For example, I’ve gone to a barre academy that is super Insta-friendly and pink!
Visiting coffee shops
Bear-shaped coffee drink at a coffee shop in Ciudad Juarez, MX.Fernanda Leon | Narcity
This one is a tie between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, but I didn’t want to leave the chance to highlight the awesome — and very different — coffee you can find in Mexico.
If you’re craving "café de olla," a Mexican coffee drink made out of coffee, cinnamon (or other spices) and sugar, it’s easier to find it in Juarez.
Coffee shops are also quite different in terms of their decoration. While El Paso spots tend to be very minimalist — which I find pretty cool — places in Ciudad Juarez are so different from each other.
From a Parisian-looking café to a pink-colored spot, Juarez has it all, and coffee is also much cheaper there.