Restaurants / Openings

New Tex-Mex Restaurant Takes Over a Prime Fort Worth Space — Your First Look at Maria’s Mexican Kitchen

Prolific Restaurateur Felipe Armenta Honors His Mother

BY // 12.19.20

Since opening his Tavern restaurant on Fort Worth’s Hulen Street in 2010, Felipe Armenta has become a real force in the Fort Worth food scene.

He followed that up with Pacific Table, his ode to the Pacific Northwest, which has two restaurant locations, one on University Drive and the other in Las Colinas, as well as Press Cafe which was one of the first things to open in Clearfork. While Armenta’s Cork & Pig Tavern closed this year in Crockett Row, there is still one located in Irving.

Now Armenta is opening Maria’s Mexican Kitchen, in the former Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House space at 1712 S. University Drive, just down Riverfront Drive from Tim Love’s Woodshed Smokehouse, and only a few blocks from his own Pacific Table.

“We are shooting for a January 21 opening,” Armenta tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

“I have always loved the site, and when it came available around Mother’s Day, it seemed the perfect opportunity. My mother passed almost two years ago. It’s named for her ― a thank you to her for all she taught me in the kitchen.”

Felipe Armenta is opening another new Fort Worth restaurant. Maria’s Mexican Kitchen is named after his mother.

Maria’s Mexican Kitchen will be Armenta’s first true Tex-Mex restaurant, although you can get a little taste of it on some of his other menus. His father still owns the family restaurant Armenta’s Cafe, with its nearly 30 year history, in San Angelo. Felipe Armenta grew up in the kitchen — and his mother’s influence is ever present.

The new restaurant will lead with several types of authentic enchiladas — spicy vera cruz, West Texas cheese and chicken mole.

“My mother’s mole sauce was amazing,” Armenta says. Maria’s Mexican Kitchen will also feature the signature dish of Armenta’s mom―braised short ribs.

“Whenever we had company or a holiday, my mother would make this dish,” the restaurateur says.

Along with a variety of what Armenta calls “other everyday Tex-Mex” dishes, will be his “more intricate and original” specials, such as steamed sea bass in banana leaves and chipotle lime sauce, served with sautéed vegetables.

Since the Maria’s Mexican Kitchen space was the home of Hoffbrau for nearly 40 years, Armenta knew he had to shake off the Brau Chips and wagon wheel decor and start fresh.

“We’ve completely gutted it,” he tells PaperCity. The façade no longer sports barn wood, now it’s a fresh Spanish mission style.

There will be seating for 160 inside and another 80 on the patio, which is now capped by whitewashed cinder block walls.

“We are playing up the all the restaurant’s natural light. The first thing you’ll see when you walk in is the horseshoe shaped full bar,” Armenta says. The formerly dark interior is now brightened by plenty of pastel and aquatic tones.

“My mother loved flowers, so we used colors from some exotic flowers as well. We want it to feel like a place you might find in San Miguel de Allende.”

A Taste of San Miguel

Interior design is being executed by Kellye Raughton, owner and lead designer of Maven on Camp Bowie.

“This design to me is both modern and eclectic. I feel as though we incorporated old world, but modernized it. We have brought in really elegant textiles, velvets, mohairs and silks,” Raughton tells PaperCity.

The designer chose really unique materials for the surfaces in the restaurant as well. For instance, the bar surround is black and white marble with a brass inlay. “The countertops are from Concrete Collaborative and have all the colors we are using in the restaurant,” Raughton says.

Flooring in the completely remodeled space is a mix of black terrazzo and wood look porcelain. The bar back is smoked mirror and the walls will have Venetian plaster and wood paneling on them.

“One of the best parts of visiting San Miguel are the secret gardens behind each door. I wanted to bring the outdoors in with plants and have the patio feel as though you have entered one of the private gardens,” Raughton says of all the greenery installed inside.

Felipe Armenta’s new Fort Worth restaurant aims to transport diners away. As a tribute to his mother and his family’s roots in Mexico, Maria’s Mexican Kitchen is certainly opening with plenty of heart.

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