As the cuisine of Fort Worth continues to evolve, some constants remain, especially in the Tex-Mex world.

Cheese enchiladas, for example, oozing with that traditional velvety smooth familiar red sauce can be traced to Mexico and pre-Columbians who frequently rolled their favorite foods in corn tortillas as a vehicle to deliver the popular meals to their hungry mouths.  

Even our beloved chili con queso stretches back in Texas history longer than the cheese that pulls from the hot dishes it’s commonly ladled into. When Spanish explorers arrived in Texas in the 1500s they brought with them livestock, such as cows and goats that would be used to produce milk. but the first mention of queso – or at least recorded in print –  however, would not be until 1816. And again in 1865 as a line in a Mexican poem, “Glosa del Chile Verde con Queso.” In this sonnet, the anonymous poet complains of the “modern” women of this time period who know much about the fashions of the day, but not so much about sensible traditions, such as cooking and preparing chilis with cheese. 

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These traditional foods have long been on the menu at Mexican food restaurants in Fort Worth, and none longer than at the Original Mexican Eats Cafe.

The cafe is legendary in Fort Worth, having opened almost 100 years ago, but will soon be closing.

A brief excerpt from a message posted on the company’s website by the present proprietor, Robert L. Self says The Original Mexican Eats Cafe  “was opened in 1926 by the Pineda family. The Original is Fort Worth’s oldest restaurant, having served five generations. Countless first meals, first dates, engagements, and parties have taken place here, and we look forward to continuing the tradition. The Original uses the best, freshest ingredients to make the best Tex-Mex possible.” 

The original dining room at The Original Mexican Eats Cafe. (Courtesy photo | The Original Mexican Eats Cafe)

Dishes include their traditional enchiladas, chili con queso as well as the local cafe’s signature dish, The Roosevelt Special, which takes its name from the order President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed during his visit in 1936: one “World Famous” cheese enchilada with chili sauce, one beef taco, and one bean chalupa. They also have a special “puffy taco” that continues to be a bestseller to those that like the unique twist on hard-shell tacos. 

The restaurant says it’s closing because of failed lease negotiations, but will be merging with another eatery that opened in May 2022. 

The Original Mexican Eats Cafe at 4713 Camp Bowie Blvd. will close March 31, and combine with The Original Del Norte, located at 1400 North Main St. 

You can visit the original restaurant and continue to support the Pineda family’s legacy that has served numerous generations of locals, as well as out-of-towners. 

97-year-old Miss Martha, a lifelong visitor at The Original Mexican Eats Cafe. (Courtesy photo | The Original Mexican Eats Cafe Facebook page)

On the main Facebook page, the restaurant and its guests are sharing photos and memories. In one post dated Feb. 25, the caption shared “This lovely lady is Martha and she’s 97 years old! She’s been eating at The Original since she was 4 years old! This is what The Original is really about. Family! And we wouldn’t have it any other way! Miss Martha, we will see you again at our new home!” 

You still have a few weeks to enjoy the original location before it closes for good and moves to its new home. 

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Deah Berry Mitchell

Deah Berry Mitchell

Deah Berry Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Nostalgia Black Group, a multimedia company whose core business is preserving Black cultural history through writing, public speaking, tourism and technology....