13 El Paso

PopulationMetro: 844,818
A border town taps into its strategic attributes to create a prosperous sanctuary.

We’re all going to start hearing a lot more about El Paso very soon. Fortified by its roots as a cowboy town, El Paso is tapping into its local pride by enticing scattered locals back home while embracing its border-city advantage.

A #14 ranking in our Foreign Born category points to the city’s population mostly of Latino origin (80%). It doesn’t get more Tex-Mex than here, where many U.S. residents speak a foreign language—in this case, overwhelmingly Spanish—at home.

Safe (the “Safest City in America!” if you listen to loud and proud Mayor Dee Margo), progressive and increasingly basking in the fruits of its 2012 $500-million bond initiative that funded a Children’s Museum, new arena, cultural center and more—all downtown—the city is also cooking in the literal sense, ranking Top 3 among Small Cities in our Restaurants category, incredibly trailing only Honolulu and Albuquerque.

Place 55
Product 39
Programming 44
People 65
Prosperity 47
Promotion 61

But the boom is tapping the city’s history, too. “The city mothballed its streetcar system in the 1970s,” says Destination El Paso CEO Bryan Crowe. “We’re bringing back the perfectly preserved streetcars in November to service our newly expanded medical schools.”