The young generation puts its mark on the family business with the new restaurant Victoria | Premium

El Paso Tacos & Tequila is unlike anything else in Victoria.

The menu might be recognizable to anyone familiar with Mexican cuisine, but Victoria’s newest downtown restaurant also boasts an interior that brings big-city vibe to Crossroads.

As diners tuck into plates of steaming fajitas and cheesy enchiladas on tables hand-painted by a Honduran artist or sip pineapple-jalapeño margaritas, they’re treated to a unique setting. Skeleton mariachi bands and luchador masks are painted on exposed brick walls. Massive archways divide the restaurant into sections, and interior balcony seating allows diners to take advantage of the entire space.






Diners fill the ground floor during the Tuesday afternoon lunch rush at El Paso Tacos & Tequila in downtown Victoria.



“I like it,” said Mary Koenning of Victoria. “It kinda reminds me of a place you would see on the River Walk in San Antonio.”

The restaurant is part of the evolution of the family business of a younger generation, said co-owner and manager Andreas Mendoza, 25. Mendoza’s family has been operating Mexican cuisine restaurants across the country since about 1985.

Over the past five years, family members of Mendoza’s generation have decided to “modernize everything,” he said.

“We wanted this division between our uncles, which is like the older generation Mexican restaurants,” Mendoza said. They achieved this by keeping their classic family recipes while modernizing the decor and adding their own additions to the menu.

Drinks are where the younger generation of the family made one of their biggest changes, Mendoza said. While the restaurant keeps its classic homemade, mango and strawberry margaritas, it has added flavors like pineapple jalapeño and habanero margaritas, as well as new drinks like a combination of mojito margarita and Mexican mules. . They also plan to serve flights of margaritas in the future, so diners can sample the full range of flavors they offer.

The family restaurant business started in 1985 in Pensacola, Florida, Mendoza said. The family originated from a small farm in Jalisco, Mexico. After one of Mendoza’s great-uncles immigrated to Chicago and then to Florida, he invited the rest of the family to come with him.







Tacos El Paso and Tequila

El Paso Tacos & Tequila caters to hungry Victorians on Tuesday afternoons on South Main Street.



“They started moving west until they got to Louisiana, and it was like, ‘boom!’,” Mendoza said. “Right now, we have nearly 40 restaurants in Louisiana.”

Victoria’s El Paso Tacos & Tequila, which opened Jan. 23, is only their third restaurant in Texas.

The story of how they decided to establish a location in Victoria is funny, Mendoza said.

While traveling from McAllen to Houston, Mendoza’s cousin Roy Chavez took a wrong turn and ended up driving through downtown Victoria. Chavez noticed that the addresses of the buildings matched a family member’s birthday numbers, and just over a week later Mendoza was called to Victoria to see the location.

“I was like, ‘This is it. This is the place,’” Mendoza said. “I like the vibe. We’ve changed a lot of things, but I like the demographics of Victoria.

Specifically, Mendoza was drawn to Victoria’s central location to Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Corpus Christi.

When they found the building, it was an empty, open space, Mendoza said.

“It was very lonely,” he said.







Tacos El Paso and Tequila

Steam rises from a plate of chicken and steak fajitas on Tuesday afternoon at El Paso Tacos & Tequila in downtown Victoria.



To alleviate this feeling of loneliness, they installed archways that run along the right side of the restaurant and a barrier that separates the entrance from the dining room. They also painted murals on the walls and pillars.

In the month they’ve been open, business has been good, Mendoza said.

“We didn’t expect to be this busy,” he said.

The demand was so high that they had to open the balcony – which was intended for private parties – to all guests. Mendoza said he helped servers by taking tables, and Chavez was in the back washing dishes to help. Mendoza’s cousin Victoria Chavez, 23, said she worked as a hostess and hauled tables to keep up with the high demand.







Tacos El Paso and Tequila

Diners dig into their lunches on Tuesday afternoons at El Paso Tacos & Tequila in downtown Victoria.



The local reception at the restaurant was positive. Darwin Koenning, 74, from Victoria, said he liked the restaurant’s different take on Mexican cuisine.

“The recipes are older from Mexico than from Tex-Mex,” he said. “And, good margaritas.”

Mikaela Tumlinson, 18, of Victoria, dug into a plate of prawn quesadillas and admired the restaurant.

“We walked in and were like, ‘This should be Houston or something,'” she said.







Tacos El Paso and Tequila

A mural adorns the wall of the upstairs bar at El Paso Tacos & Tequila.



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