Dallas-based brand – the longest-running Mexican restaurant chain in the U.S. – turns 100 this year
The Tex-Mex revolution began when Miguel Martinez opened Martinez Café and developed a mixture of American and Traditional Mexican Food – the birth of what is now known as Tex-Mex. On Sept. 15, 1918, Martinez converted his modest eatery into El Fenix – the first restaurant to serve Tex-Mex – on the corner of Griffin St. and McKinney Ave. in downtown Dallas. In the mid-1930s, he opened the El Fenix Ballroom next door, serving up live music and dancing with the “El Fenix Orchestra.” Even though this coincided with the Great Depression, it was also an era of sophistication. Martinez offered his guests lively nighttime entertainment, making El Fenix and the Ballroom a thriving Dallas hotpot.
Following the safe return of Martinez’s four sons from World War II, Martinez retired and entrusted his children to carry on his unique vision for El Fenix. The Martinez children held up their end of the bargain and today, El Fenix stands as the longest-running Mexican restaurant chain in the U.S. and one of the five oldest continuously operating restaurant chains in America.
“The fact that Miguel Martinez founded El Fenix and created Tex-Mex cuisine right here in Dallas makes our Centennial celebration a momentous occasion for the entire North Texas community,” said Mike Karns, CEO and owner of Firebird Restaurant Group LLP, which bought El Fenix from the Martinez family in 2008. “It’s amazing to think that El Fenix has been sharing its original dishes with locals and out-of-town visitors for 100 years. It’s a source of tremendous pride for all of us, and we have been looking forward to celebrating this historic milestone with our guests for a long time.”
El Fenix’s Centennial celebration – 100 years in the making – began with its first-ever “Create Your Own Margarita” contest. All ‘rita aficionados were invited to share their favorite original recipe for the chance to win a drink feature on El Fenix’s iconic menu and FREE El Fenix for a Year! The winning drink was the Marg-Nitos, created by Lisa Martel. It will be available at all El Fenix locations during the month of August for just $6.99.
The celebration continues with monthly $1 Centennial specials, such as $1 queso with a downloadable coupon for VIP email club members and Facebook followers. El Fenix’s Centennial Margarita will soon make its debut and the Martinez family will be throwing the first pitch at the Texas Rangers game on April 10. El Fenix will finish off the year by participating in 100 Days of Giving in October and November (more details to come).
There are 22 El Fenix restaurants located throughout North Texas, and at WinStar World Casino & Resort. For the restaurant nearest you, and more information on the entire menu, visit ElFenix.com.
About El Fenix
El Fenix was founded in 1918 by Mike Martinez, a Mexican immigrant who opened a small restaurant on the corner of Griffin St. and McKinney Ave. in Dallas. El Fenix is renowned as the originator of Tex-Mex cuisine and for its Wednesday Enchilada Dinner. Nation’s Restaurant News named El Fenix one of its 50 All-American Icons – “restaurants that stole our hearts and stood the test of time.” El Fenix has won D Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards for “Best Tex-Mex” and “Best Margarita” in DFW for five of the past six years. Open seven days a week, there are 22 El Fenix restaurants located throughout North Texas, and at WinStar World Casino & Resort. For more information, visit ElFenix.com.
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