The Original - cheese enchiladas con carne topped with raw onion.
The Original's dining room from the early days on Camp Bowie.
Magical margaritas and cocktails in the cantina.
A silky sour cream sauce drapes the chicken enchilada plate - still some of the best in town.
A famous Fort Worth restaurant is finally ready to open a second location after almost a century in business. The Original Mexican Eats Cafe was opened by the Pineda family at 4713 Camp Bowie Boulevard, back in 1926. It’s one of the oldest and most beloved restaurants in North Texas. And also the reason many of us crave raw onions on our cheese enchiladas.
A lot of Fort Worth locals just call it the “Old Original.” Its vintage tin ceiling tiles and generations of family memories, served up with a side of rice and beans, have certainly left an impression.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt even visited the restaurant on a trip to see his son Elliot in Fort Worth in 1936. The Roosevelt Special was born ― one cheese enchilada con carne, one beef taco and bean chalupa. How can you go wrong?
Named The Original Del Norte (for its Northside locale), this new spinoff has been 95 years in the making. This week it is opening, taking over the former El Rancho Grande space at 1400 N. Main Street. Its soft opening began Saturday.
El Rancho Grande itself had a storied family-run history, until it closed in 2020. Herculano and Juanita Falcon opened the Northside mainstay in 1949. So this new combination of two of Fort Worth’s most beloved Tex-Mex restaurants is historic as well. The owner of both The Original Mexican Eats Cafe and now The Original Del Norte, Robert Self, even plans to keep El Rancho’s signature paper-thin chips on the menu, according to Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The menu will translate, featuring hand-rolled enchiladas, tender tamales, sizzling fajitas and those super crunchy puffy tacos. If you are into the puffy craze, there is even a puffy nacho plate to devour. One of the new additions that arrives with The Original Del Norte is the Codorniz Del Norte ― two whole butterflied quail served with rice and beans.
The new Fort Worth restaurant’s Cantina brings 12 varieties of specialty margaritas to suit any taste, from El Presidente to Skinny, as well as five flavors of frozen margs and a classic pina colada. For a sweeter treat, there is the Amarillo by Morning with George Strait’s Codigo Blanco, orange juice, grenadine and a bit of amaretto. For the carb conscious, there is a Ranch Water with Hotel California Blanco, a splash of Topo Chico, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Now you can dine on the same historic Tex-Mex recipes, or grab a Roosevelt Special at either restaurant location — the old Original on Camp Bowie or the new Original Del Norte along North Main Street. Some things are worth the wait.
UPDATE: An update regarding the opening was posted Tuesday morning which read: “After a successful soft opening this last Saturday night we realized significant operational issues to be fixed with the oven we use to heat Our Famous Enchiladas along with our computer system. We have decided due to these issues we will open a week from today. May 11th! Thank you.”