I have a confession. Now, do not revoke my foodie or Houstonian cards for this, but a few weeks ago marked my first trip to the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. I know, I know, it is a quintessential Houston restaurant that every Houstonian foodie should frequent. In my defense, I have never lived near the Original Ninfa’s so it would require a specific trip to the area to indulge in the home of Houston Tex Mex. Well one of my college friends was in town and asked that I direct him to the best Tex Mex in town, so to Ninfa’s we went!
Setup: The area is part of the gentrification in second ward and honestly is really nice. Plenty of pretty signs that greet you and beautiful landscaping all out about. Celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker have stopped by Ninfa’s during visits to Houston, so I think it is great that the area is befitting of a tourist. The facade of the restaurant stays pretty true to the original building that has been around since the 70s. Once inside you are greeted with a building full of Mexican architecture influences played up in a classy non-kitschy way. I sat a few steps from the front door so unfortunately I did not get to see too much of the restaurant setup.
Service: I stopped by in between lunch and dinner on a slow Sunday afternoon, so there was not much of a crowd. Still great service and everyone was welcoming. All of the staff wore traditional Mexican dresses which adds to the theme. It was a nice touch, but I bet the staff are not huge fans of those dresses!
Food: I ordered the beef fajita enchiladas with double rice, no beans. The rice included a large hunk of potato. None of my trips to Mexican restaurants have ever included a potato, but I liked the combination. The rice is a stickier rice ,likely from the potato, and flavored like your typical Mexican rice. Not everyone does fajita beef well, but Ninfa’s does! The meat is tender and seasoned well. The enchilada sauce was similar to a chili sauce with a bit of cheddar cheese on top. I liked the dish the first day and it was even better the next day once all those seasonings and flavors sat it.
This is a Houston institution so of course I will be back! I have several Tex Mex favorites in Houston, but I cannot say that Ninfa’s does anything above and beyond my other favorites. Still, I am a lover of history and for that reason, you cannot go wrong with Ninfas!