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Serving the Bayou City since 1973, the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation Boulevard is a household name for many native Houstonians.

Known for its tasty dishes and deep Lone Star roots, Ninfa’s also gifted the world with the quintessential Tex-Mex dish: fajitas.

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Fajitas were invented at the restaurant by Mama Ninfa Laurenzo, who proved that skirt steak was a delicious and underappreciated cut of meat, when she grilled it and served it with her family’s house-made tortillas, originally calling the dish Tacos al Carbon.


Executive Chef Alex Padilla recently showed Eater how he prepares the famous fajitas on the kitchen’s wood-burning grill.

When Padilla showed him the restaurant’s fajita steak, Eater’s Sheldon Simeon said “that’s why you need a grill the size of Texas!”

And he wasn’t joking, given that Ninfa’s serves a whopping 135,000 pounds of steak each year.

Classic Tex-Mex meets fine dining under the direction of Chef Padilla, who brings 18 years of experience in top restaurants across the world to the Ninfa’s kitchen.

In addition to traditional Tex-Mex dishes like fajitas, enchiladas and carnitas, Padilla serves up unique menu items, as well, including duck confit, grilled octopus salad and adobo rabbit tacos.

While The Original Ninfa’s already boasts a long menu, Padilla continues to add new dishes.

He talked to Eater about immigrating to Houston from Honduras at 16 years old and his journey across America and Europe, as he perfected his cooking techniques.

Padilla brought those skills back to Houston, where he carries on the legacy of Mama Ninfa by combining history, technique and passion to create a stellar menu rivaling any in Houston.

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The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation Boulevard is a Houston institution, as well as a necessary addition to any real Houstonian’s restaurant bucket list.

They even have vegetarian options for the black sheep Texans who don’t eat meet. 

If you’re in the Houston area, plan your next meal here.

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