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 third for its culinary scene, incredibly trailing only Honolulu and Albuquerque. But the boom is tapping the city’s history, too. “The city mothballed its streetcar system in the 1970s,” said Destination El Paso CEO Bryan Crowe. “We brought back the perfectly preserved streetcars to service our newly expanded medical schools.” Today the streetcar travels a 4.8-mile route in two loops through El Paso’s uptown and downtown areas. Fortified by its roots as a cowboy town, El Paso is leveraging its regional pride by enticing scattered locals back home, while embracing its border-city advantage. A #2 ranking in our Foreign-Born Residents category points to the city’s population mostly of Latino origin (80%). It doesn’t get more Tex-Mex than here, where many residents speak a foreign language—in this case, overwhelmingly Spanish—at home.