El Tiempo Expands
Houston's most sizzling Tex-Mex restaurant rolls out hot new Galleria-area location
El Tiempo marketing director Rafael Hernandez tells CultureMap the company wanted a location that would occupy the gap between its original location on Richmond near Kirby and its location at Gessner and Westheimer. He also noted that owners Roland and Domenic Laurenzo have fond memories of the second Ninfa’s location that operated nearby in the space currently occupied by BB’s Tex-Orleans. The area has seen recent openings such as the Warwick and Katz’s.
“That area is coming back around. We wanted to get in there early,” Hernandez adds.
Although a lot of work has gone into transforming a steakhouse into a Tex-Mex restaurant, the Palm’s layout remains intact. That means adults can gather in the expansive bar area, and families can dine in the calmer, quieter main dining room. Domenic Laurenzo takes the lead on design.
“He creates these spaces with a good ambiance, a good feel,” Hernandez says. “This restaurant, you’ll notice it right off the bat. I don’t think I’ve been to any restaurant he’s done that doesn’t have it.”
Regardless of where they dine, customers will find the same menu at El Tiempo’s other locations. That means favorites like queso, fajitas, and enchiladas as well as signatures like veal sweetbreads with chimichurri, crab nachos, and parrilladas platters loaded with meat, seafood, and more. Of course, shaken and frozen margaritas will flow from the bar.
Together with a new Katy location that opened in April and a location inside Minute Maid Park, the Briargrove location is part of El Tiempo’s strategy to recover from losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new locations are designed to boost the company’s revenues back to where they were in 2019.
“After COVID, a lot of restaurant groups got skinnier. We didn’t do that,” Hernandez says. “Roland is not the type of boss to do that. His people have been with him since the Ninfa’s days. He’s very loyal to them.”