Dallas - Fort Worth September 20, 2017
by Robin McClure The Oldest Restaurant In Dallas – Fort Worth Has A Truly Incredible History
El Fenix Mexican Restaurant has indisputably claimed Dallasites’ hearts
and appetites with its consistently delicious and affordable food. In fact, it’s so good that it recently celebrated its 99th year of operation! In a time where downtown Dallas restaurants come and go as tastes and trends change, El Fenix remains in its original location, which opened in 1918 (although additional restaurants have since been added). Today, its humble beginnings and rich history has earned it and iconic status in Dallas and is credited as “the original Tex-Mex.”
Miguel (Mike) Martinez arrived to the Dallas scene in 1911 from Mexico.
In addition to marrying and raising eight children, he decided to open up his own restaurant in 1916 at the corner of Griffin Street and McKinney Avenue in a part of Dallas then known as "Little Mexico." Martinez originally called his restaurant "Martinez Café."
Martinez' experimentation with Mexican-inspired dishes became a huge hit with patrons, and he decided to change his style to focus on "Tex-Mex" in 1918.
He chose the name El Fenix because it meant "The Phoenix," a philosophy that transforms setbacks into assets, like a mythological phoenix rising up again from its own ashes.
The size and look of the restaurant has evolved through time, but the original location remains an ideal eating spot for Dallasites.
Today, El Fenix is nestled amongst Dallas high-rises and within walking distance to the popular American Airlines sports and entertainment center.
The outside of the restaurant is nondescript and easy to overlook to the unknowing, but its sign beckons to passersby.
The inside is full of traditional Tex-Mex charm.
The outside patio is a pleasant surprise and provides sunny seating options for nice days.
Night is when the outdoor area really turns on its charm.
It is often filled with sports fans and hungry revelers, both before and after Dallas Mavs and Stars events or other Dallas activities held nearby.
The Tex-Mex classic - the staple that El Fenix still serves today - is the two cheese and onion enchilada with chile con carne sauce served with Spanish rice and refried beans. Of course, complimentary and unlimited chips and sauce always start the meal.
The restaurant's hot sauce became so popular with customers that it is now mass-produced and even sold in certain chain stores, such as Walmart.
Menu items have become more varied through the years, while always remaining true to their Mexican roots, such as these puffed-up and crispy Picadillo meat-filled corn tortillas.
The pan seared fish tacos are another favorite of El Fenix fans.
must save room for dessert when eating at El Fenix.
The sopapillas are
to die for.
The pralines are so good that many patrons buy extras to take home for later!
The famous El Fenix margaritas continuously win "best margarita" awards and are sometimes referred to as "1918 martinis."
El Fenix offers many variations of the classic margarita, such as the Rita/Sangria Swirl.
The restaurant celebrated its 99th year in September 2017 with throwback prices and specials. Just imagine what the 100th anniversary will bring!!
El Fenix is proud of its history and proudly showcases its "since 1918" legacy.
Today, it boasts of 11 locations across the Metroplex, but you can find the original downtown location at 1601 McKinney Avenue in Dallas.
Have you eaten at the original El Fenix? If so, when did you first experience this Dallas Tex-Mex icon? What is your favorite meal on the menu?
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