Considering the size of Houston, this traditional nondescript Mexican restaurant tucked away on a nondescript road just off interstate 59 has a reputation so good people come from miles away to eat here.This is Original Ninfa’s on Navigation.
Ninfa’s is one of those places under the tourist radar, running silent and deep so the locals can keep it to themselves. It was, I’m reliably informed, the very first Tex-Mex in the city of Houston. This was where Mama Ninfa first packed char-grilled beef into a home made flour tortilla and created a national fajita craze.
I say this only because there a number of other so called “Ninfa’s” around the Houston area, but this one, on navigation Boulevard, is the original and the best.
The legend is not lost on executive chef Alex Padilla, who treats the restaurants’ provenance with the greatest respect, after all, he has a lot to live up to; his mother worked here for many years as a line cook. He learnt his craft under Nancy Oakes, one of the most celebrated chefs in America until ironically coming back home to where it all began.
Thankfully, unlike many similar eateries in the US everything here is freshly made, from the corn and flour tortillas to the die for guacamole, a personal favourite of mine. Let’s face it, you don’t expect to pay top dollar for Tex-Mex, but when the quality of the food is as authentic as it gets, and
The winner for mewas the Parilla Mixta, a feast of Mexican favourites on a platter to feed a whole family for just $45. My favourite dish was Poblano, a huge green pepper stuffed with Mexican cheese.
Houston is a city with money in its roots, where like Texas, everything is big and bold. The only thing big and bold in Ninfa’s is her reputation. Oh and the plate sizes.