Oak Forest’s newest destination for Tex-Mex is now serving fajitas and shaking margaritas. Valencia’s Tex-Mex Garage quietly opened for lunch and dinner beginning Thursday, October 29.
Located in Braun Enterprises’ development at 2001 W. 34 St., Valencia’s represents a homecoming for brother-and-sister owners Ricardo Valencia and Vienna Valencia Bement, who attended Waltrip High School, which is located across the street. The siblings are also making their return to the Houston restaurant scene; they sold the six Houston-area locations of Cyclone Anaya’s, the Tex-Mex restaurant founded by their parents, in 2017 (they still own a location in Austin).
“We wanted to come back home. We’re across the street from the high school we went to,” Vienna Valencia Bement. “You walk to the restroom, the vestibule has tons of yearbook pictures scanned from the years we went there. It brought back the things we loved so much about growing up in Oak Forest.”
In addition to the throwback photos, the restaurant features an elaborate, Día de los Muertos-inspired mural. The roll up garage doors that provide access to the patio are a nod to the very first Cyclone Anaya’s, which was an ice house.
The menu covers all the usual Tex-Mex classics: enchiladas, tacos, queso, fajitas, and more, but Valencia and Bement also added some new items. For the first time, they’re making both flour and corn tortillas in house and cooking them on separate griddles so people with gluten allergies can eat the corn without worrying about cross contamination. In addition, a separate menu lists items that are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free.
Other new dishes include rotisserie chicken that comes in either whole or half portions and can be topped with a Oaxacan-style mole negro. Deviled eggs get a little chipotle spice. Bement also mentions the HTX Loop 610 Burrito — a massive burrito filled with carne guisada, refried black beans, pico de gallo, and queso Oaxaca that’s topped with chile con carne, queso, guacamole, and sliced jalapeños.
“It’s got the kitchen sink in it: guisada, beans, everything you can imagine,” she says. “Almost two people have to eat it. It’s that big.”
To drink, choose from 13 draft beers, seven wines on taps, and all the usual margaritas. Twists include a margarita topped with a White Claw floated and a frozen pineapple-mezcal margarita. Diners will find a separate list of brunch cocktails and various discounts during happy hour.
Valencia’s will apply the lessons its owners learned about operating during the coronavirus pandemic from their Austin restaurant. Staff have their temperature taken before each shift, and diners have the option of using disposable silverware and QR code menus. Reservations are available via OpenTable to help manage flow and keep the restaurant at 75-percent capacity.
“We’re very excited. We’re ready,” Bement says. “We’ve got a lot of new staff with a lot of training and teaching to do, but it keeps us on our toes. I feel like we’re going to be successful, because we’ll just keep doing what we do.”