Feeding hungry people and caring for every heart that comes through our door.

This Is

How It Works

The Mustard Seed Café is a NonProfit, Pay-What-You-Can Community Café. We want to tell and demonstrate the love of Jesus to every single person who comes through our doors! We serve delicious, nutritious food with an accompanying commitment to treat each person with dignity and honor.

Guests may volunteer an hour with us in exchange for a meal or they may choose to pay what they can on a suggested price for their meal. Some pay the suggested price, others pay less, and some pay more as a donation to pay it forward.

We welcome all!

When you come to the café:
  • Our greeters and volunteers offer a genuine and warm welcome.
  • Talk to our manager, Carmen, if you’d like to volunteer an hour with us in exchange for your meal.
  • Our menu changes weekly and is written on the large chalkboard in the café.
  • When you’re are ready to eat, step up to the buffet line and tell our chef and volunteers what you’d like to order. Our feature items vary weekly, as do our side dishes. We always serve a delicious soup, and our salad bar is one of the best in town. Dessert is usually a yummy cookie or bar, and we serve tea, coffee, and infused water.
  • Your guest check is on your food tray with a suggested price. You’ll pay after you eat.
  • Sit where you like and enjoy your meal.
  • You decide what to pay. Pay the suggested price, pay less if you need to, or pay more to help us keep doing what we’re doing.
  • Write the amount of your payment on your guest check, and pay at the door as you leave.

Come Back and See Us Soon!

This Is

This Is Our Journey

It all begins with a novel called “The Summer Kitchen” and an idea that wouldn’t go away – a non-profit, pay-what-you-can cafe. Then comes a Bible study lesson on justice. A broken heart. A confession of self-righteousness and prejudice. A quote by David Livingstone that, “Sympathy is never a substitute for action.” A mission trip to Costa Rica. Breakfast with a friend. A visit to the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in downtown El Paso. An issue of Christianity Today. One World Everybody Eats Foundation. An email.

In the summer of 2011 three friends, Christi Brown, Patsy Burdick, and Shelley Speicher meet to discuss the idea and pray. They become convinced that a pay-what-you-can café is God’s invitation to learn humility, compassion, kindness, and love. The idea is to create a table where everyone eats…regardless of their ability to pay.

The dream takes shape. Fears and insecurities do as well. God persists. A mission statement and vision points coalesce. A community interest meeting is held. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Checks arrive. Volunteers of every age and background begin to trickle forward through website interest sheets, cups of coffee, and conversations in offices, checkout lines, and parking lots.

Classes are taken. Book pages are dog-eared and devoured. A Steering Committee is formed. Grants written. Conferences and meetings attended. Locations are considered. Doors open and close. Friends are made. Wise counsel given and embraced. Two years pass…

Fast forward to summer of 2013. A lease is signed, a garden designed, and the café becomes a reality. Shakespeare once wrote, “What is the city but the people?” The Mustard Seed is El Paso’s own community café, and we proudly take root in the Rio Grande neighborhood of our great city. Everyone has the capacity to help in one way or another. We invite you to join us!

Staff Members

Christi Brown

Christi Brown

Executive Director

Christi Brown is a southeast Texas girl who came to El Paso in 1984 with her husband, Adin. She married into a family with deep roots in Mexico and a strong commitment to the El Paso community. She loves her roles as wife, mom of four, and mother-in-law. She’s a former Bible study teacher and community and church volunteer. Christi’s passions are living for God’s glory and learning to love other people as He does. Over the years, she’s come to truly appreciate the richness and diversity of the El Paso community. Given the choice, she wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world, except maybe Africa. She believes that the Mustard Seed Café is a God-given and God-sized work intended to bless the El Paso community. It’s one of the most challenging, most humbling, and most rewarding adventures she’s ever attempted.

Carmen Estrada

Carmen Estrada


Carmen M Estrada was born and raised in Baranquilla, Colombia, in a loving family where she learned at an early age to serve and share with the less fortunate. She came to the United States in 1988, lived in New York, and it was there that she met and married her husband, Luis. Together they have two adult children, Joshalyn and Karla. The Estrada family has resided in El Paso since 1992, and shortly after arriving they became members of the First Baptist Church of El Paso. The respect and love that Carmen has for El Paso, especially the downtown community, has been developed and grown through the different ministries and programs of which she has been a part. Some of these programs include Camino de Luz, First Baptist Church Clothes Closet, and the nine street ministries (Agape Ministry). These ministries all have a special place in her heart. In all these ministries Carmen has seen, felt, and received the Grace of Jesus. After almost seven years working at La Familia del Paso, serving adults with mental illnesses, the Lord has led her to the Mustard Seed Café, to continue serve Him and the El Paso community.

Join Our Table

Thanks for visiting!

Please visit our donations page to make a donation. Anything helps!

For more information about volunteering with us, visit our volunteer page.

We hope to see you soon at our cafe!

Mustard Seed Bird