How The Original Ninfa's in Houston became the pioneers of Tex-Mex

HOUSTON, Texas -- When Maria "Ninfa" Laurenzo first opened a taco shop in Houston's East End neighborhood in 1973, she was a widow with five children and her tortilla factory was failing.

It started as a side business to earn some extra cash, but she never imagined it would become a Tex-Mex culinary empire.

"Mama Ninfa," as she became known, sold 250 of her handmade tacos al carbon the first day she opened Ninfa's on Navigation Street.

Before long, word spread about Ninfa's chargrilled skirt steak and business grew so quickly that Mama Ninfa closed the tortilla factory to focus on the restaurant.

Today, the Original Ninfa's is a Tex-Mex institution, credited with popularizing fajitas in Texas, and ultimately, across the country.

After almost 50 years in business, the Original Ninfa's is still serving up "the best Mexican food in Texas since Texas was in Mexico!"