Restaurants / Openings

Houston Tex-Mex Favorite Gets a Striking New Look — Inside Cyclone Anaya’s Very Different River Oaks Restaurant

Jumbo Margaritas In a More Design-Centric Setting

BY // 02.20.24
photography Jenn Duncan

It’s quite the noteworthy rebrand, and the powers that be at the 57-year-old Tex-Mex haunt Cyclone Anaya’s are doing it up big. Real big. First, they secured the lease of the very visible River Oaks space that used to house Frank’s Americana Revival at 3736 Westheimer. Then, they hired notable design mind Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group to give its newly opened seventh Cyclone Anaya’s a modern refresh. One that you can expect to be carried out in future outposts of this Tex-Mex restaurant too.

This local chain was founded in 1966 by former champion Mexican-born wrestler Jesus Becerra Valencia (known in the ring as Cyclone Anaya) along with his wife Carolina Berzeny (at the time, the reigning Miss Houston). In 2017, the Sugar Land-based restaurant operators The Dhanani Group, one of the largest QSR franchise development groups in the world, acquired the Houston-based chain from the founder’s five children.

Cyclone Anaya’s food by Jenn Duncan (Photo by Jenn Duncan)
The new River Oaks location continues the Cyclone Anaya’s 57-year tradition of preparing Tex-Mex favorites, including jumbo margaritas, enchiladas, sizzling fajitas, and Mexican Cervezas. (Photo by Jenn Duncan)

Cyclone Anaya’s is a Tex-Mex staple that’s gained local notoriety for its jumbo margaritas, Mexican cervezas, sizzling fajitas and enchiladas. But its new River Oaks restaurant is something different. This new Cyclone Anaya’s in River Oaks can accommodate 191 diners and features a private dining room, an indoor/outdoor bar, a to-go curbside entrance and a private parking lot that can accommodate up to 50 vehicles.

“Cyclone Anaya’s redesign strikes a balance between elevated comfort and a welcoming, masculine atmosphere, building on the true story of a tall Texas tale,” Braverman notes. “The design honors the midcentury ‘golden age of wrestling’ aesthetic through a restrained and thoughtful application of traditional materials.

“Details like the woven seat straps and a custom room divider pay homage to life beyond the wrestling ring. Vibrant cherry-red neon and metallic accents pop at the dynamic bar, and hand-cut letters frame the window of the tortilla-making galley.

Cyclone Anaya’s River Oaks Bar by Jenn Duncan (Photo by Jenn Duncan)
The dynamic bar area at the new Cyclone Anaya’s River Oaks features angular geometry built into a suspended canopy, illuminating the area with brightly painted triangular tiers highlighted with neon bands. (Photo by Jenn Duncan)

Braverman and her colleague Jason Tramonte, Jr. of Tramonte Design Group collaborated on the 6,250-square-foot restaurant. With dining offered inside and out, the duo elected to infuse the new Cyclone Anaya’s River Oaks space with a hand-made feel by utilizing natural stone, plaster and clay brick textures to mirror the craftsmanship of the freshly prepared dishes, such as guacamole prepared and served tableside in a beautiful, hand-forged molcajete.

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“We are thrilled to continue growing the Cyclone Anaya’s brand in our hometown of Houston, Texas,” owners Zo and Usman Dhanani say in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to be joining the River Oaks community.

“The new location brings an updated look to the Cyclone Anaya’s brand but the same homemade Tex-Mex favorites.”

The new Cyclone Anaya’s Tex-Mex Kitchen is located at 3736 Westheimer Road. It is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 11 am to 10 pm, Thursdays from 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays from 11 am to midnight, Saturdays from 1o am to midnight and Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm.

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