Restaurants / Openings

Longtime Houston Restaurant Family Returns With a New Tex-Mex Spot in Oak Forest — Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage Makes a Mark

Channeling the Old Days With Charm

BY // 12.22.20

The family behind Houston Tex-Mex chain Cyclone Anaya’s is back in business with a new restaurant. Ricardo Valencia and his sister, Vienna Valencia Bement, recently opened Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage. 

Located at 2009 West 34th Street in Oak Forest, the restaurant faces the siblings’ alma mater, Waltrip High School. The Valencias grew up in the neighborhood, and this restaurant is a testament to their rich family history

While Ricardo was battling cancer in 2017, the Valencia family sold all of their restaurants except for Cyclone Anaya’s Austin Domain location. Now recovered, Ricardo has incorporated the Austin restaurant’s unique architecture and traditional family dishes into Valenica’s Tex-Mex Garage.

To comply with Texas’ current COVID-19 regulations, the spacious, 4,500-square-foot restaurant is limited to 75 percent capacity for its indoor dining with 100 percent allowed on its patio.

Rustic garage doors connect the patio to the interior to create a cozy, homey feeling at Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage. Classic sugar skulls line the wall, adding a pop of color to the space. 

Celebrating the family’s history, there’s an entire wall of memorabilia dedicated to the Valencia’s high school days, which attracts many old friends. “I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve seen in the last week that I haven’t seen in 30 years,” Ricardo tells PaperCity. “I’m talking five, six times a day.” 

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The big outdoor patio is perfect dog owners, bike riders, and game lovers. You can even can play a round of cornhole while you wait for the food.

Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage, which opened at the end of October, offers customers a homey experience.
Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage, which opened at the end of October, offers customers a homey experience.

Head chef Lupe Garcia has put together a menu filled with classic Tex-Mex recipes, including burritos, tacos and enchiladas.

“We’re really jumping back into the basics of some of my mom’s original dishes,” Ricardo says. “From carne asada to big burrito plates, we’re really diving into Tex-Mex this time around.” 

Every day brings a different special. There’s even a vegetarian and gluten-free menu.

The redfish on a half-shell comes with sautéed shrimp drenched with garlic butter and grilled vegetables. The pork belly al pastor tacos are filled with pineapple, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro and red onions, served on homemade corn or flour tortillas. 

On Saturdays and Sundays, breakfast and brunch is served until 3 pm — Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 11 am to 6 pm, when Chipotle deviled eggs are a popular seller. The restaurant itself is open seven days a week.

The eclectic bar features an LED-lit tequila wall offering premium brands such as Don Julio 1942.

“We have a big palette of local draft beer and have completely switched to wine on tap,” Ricardo says. On Mondays and Tuesdays, wine is half off. 

The Valencias also offer an original and unique margarita menu. The signature drink is a frozen Moscow margarita, infused with lime and tequila, garnished with charred pineapple chunks. This smoky cocktail is already a customer favorite. Ricardo Valencia has also introduced a popular drink from his Austin restaurant — a roasted jalapeño margarita, mixed with Espolón Reposado tequila, agave nectar, fresh lime juice and slices of roasted jalapeño.

Then there’s Fronnie’s Mexican martini margarita, a drink named after Ricardo’s wife. The secret ingredient? Olive juice. 

A customer favorite is the classic house margarita, served frozen or on the rocks.

“This is a really fun, upbeat place where you can dress up or down and really feel comfortable,” Ricardo says. 

It is a place where you can feel at home, which is exactly where the Valencia restaurant family has returned.

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