Restaurants / Openings

New Uptown Ninfa’s Makes a Major Splash on Post Oak — Your First Sneak Peek

One of Houston's Most Anticipated New Restaurants is an Offshoot of an Iconic Spot — Does it Live Up to the Original?

BY // 06.07.19

There’s something new (with an old twist) for anyone savoring sizzling fajitas and craving tacos al carbon.

The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation may be the crown jewel of the Houston Tex-Mex scene — sometimes even credited as a catalyst for the fajita craze that took over America — but now there’s even more to love. The long-anticipated second Ninfa’s — a real Original Ninfa’s on Navigation worthy spot — is about to open on Post Oak.

The new Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston takes over the old Peska restaurant space. The new restaurant shares more than a name with its namesake. Opening this Monday, June 10, the Uptown location’s menu mirrors the Navigation original.

PaperCity got a sneak peek at a preview event on Thursday night — and the setup is impressive. The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston features all the Ninfa’s favorites — a tantalizing tortilla-making station upon entry, a wood-burning oven and wood-burning grill.

“Ninfa’s, the original, plays an iconic role. There’s so much consistency, it’s so good. I believe that’s why people keep coming back to Ninfa’s and enjoying the comfort food. Because it’s a place for everybody,” executive corporate chef Alex Padilla, who’s been with Ninfa’s since 2006, tells PaperCity. 

But while the new offshoot boasts the same spirit, there are some key differences. There’s a gulf between something designed in 1973 and something designed in 2019. But both can be epic in their own right.

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The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is bold and bright, with a vibrant parrot as a motif. Think orange walls, turquoise gates, a stone façade, red umbrellas.

But there is a nod to the past at the new restaurant— the neon Ninfa’s Uptown Houston sign to the left of the door does feature that beloved macaw, plus the glass above the kitchen.

With The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston, Mama Ninfa Laurenzo’s legacy gets a fresh update. The new Uptown restaurant’s prime Galleria area location means it’s nestled in the hustle and bustle of the district, with cars whizzing by and shoppers peering in.

Neighbors to a Whole Foods, Pinkberry, True Food Kitchen, rise n°2 and more, The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston blends in seamlessly.

It may be a new incarnation but it’s an all-new look. The digs are sleek and chic in every sense of the words. The new restaurant sees your old-school flair and raises you a graphic neon sign bearing “Ninfa’s” and only Ninfa’s.

The eye-catching red umbrellas have been traded in for more sedate teal ones. There are aesthetically pleasing floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive dining rooms, a central bar with TVs, a full-on espresso machine. And the upcoming breakfast menu is no shock.

Frozen margarita machines and brand new craft cocktails ideal for this location’s happy hour overseen by Linda Salinas also come into play. The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation will get these new boozy beverages soon enough, too.

the original ninfa’s uptown
Original’s not an all-new meaning. (Photo by The Original Ninfa’s Uptown)

Coming in at 6,400 square feet, with plenty of space for 280 diners, including a 50-seat exclusive private dining room and three sprawling patios with blue and white-tile-lined tables that can seat a total of 100 people, The Original Ninfa’s has been reinvisoned, reimagined.

Austin’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, which is opening a new Houston office, and Houston-based Studio Red Architects saw to that. Imagine clean lines, high ceilings, tile floors, exposed wooden beams and dangling bright bulbs encircled by glass cones.

Some of the walls at the new Uptown Ninfa’s are painted terra cotta red, others white, with an array of Mexican masks and a turquoise-studded Longhorn skull.

The bar is lined with bright blue and white tiles, surrounded by tall red-backed bar stools, the floor’s tiles shine white and orange. Mirrors hang on the wall, along with images of Mama Ninfa and a framed Lone Star State flag.

There’s a new Original Ninfa’s — and it wants to break the mold, too.

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