Molina's Cantina in Houston, Texas

Opened in 1941, Molina’s Cantina is Houston’s oldest still-operating Tex-Mex restaurant and a venerated institution. The original location at 1919 West Gray was known as Old Monterrey. It was purchased by Raul Molina Sr., who had worked there for a decade, originally as a dishwasher and busboy, and his wife Mary. Today, the business is helmed by the family’s next generation—Raul III, Ricardo, and Roberto. 

Start off your Tex-Mex feast with staples like the original “Jose’s Dip,” which blends queso with taco meat, and the spicy tortilla soup with chunks of avocado. On the entree front, consider the house enchiladas, which have stayed the same since 1941. 

Or, if you want to order like former president George H.W. Bush, who regularly frequented Molina’s while acclimating to Houston, try the fajitas: hand-trimmed skirt steak flame-grilled to order. Other local legends who dined here? Former mayor Annise Parker, who proclaimed July 1 to be Molina’s Cantina Day in 2011. 

Molina’s is renowned not just for its longevity but notably for its commitment to a family-like atmosphere, where many employees have tenures stretching over decades. This familial approach extends to the customers, many of whom have been dining at Molina’s for years with their parents and now children. Now with multiple locations across Houston, including on Bellaire and Westheimer, Molina’s Cantina remains a cornerstone of the local dining scene. 

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