The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is nearly ready to welcome an additional location. Parent company Legacy Restaurants will open The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston in the Blvd Place mixed-use development on June 10.
Jonathan Horowitz, CEO of Houston-based Legacy Restaurants, said the company targeted Uptown for its expansion due to the dearth of Tex-Mex restaurants in the area. Hugo Ortega’s Caracol is nearby, but there are few Tex-Mex joints, he explained. The Uptown Ninfa’s was first announced in 2018, filling the space left vacant when Peska closed in late 2017.
Click through the slideshow above for a look inside The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston.
The Uptown restaurant will seat roughly 280 total: 180 inside, including the bar, and 100 outside. The total square footage is 6,400, not including the patio, which adds an additional 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. At least 120 people will be hired for the new restaurant.
Austin-based Michael Hsu Office of Architecture designed the space in conjunction with Houston’s Studio Red Architects. Houston-based Construction Concepts renovated the space.
The new location required a total investment of more than $2 million — infrastructure had to be built, vent hoods had to be bought and as the restaurant is below other businesses, Legacy had to figure out how to vent out smoke.
Legacy Restaurants bought Ninfa’s in 2005, and it hasn’t opened any locations since. Now, Horowitz believes the infrastructure, desire and opportunity are right for the company to expand.
“Because of that, we’re very comfortable with the idea of making additional investments like this,” Horowitz said. “We don’t plan on doing very many — we’ll be very, very selective with very thoughtful, organic-type growth.”
Horowitz said that Legacy might open more large Original Ninfa’s locations down the road — if so, they’ll be in locations such as Sugar Land or Katy — but for now, it’s more likely that the company will open more Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas.
The Tacos y Tortas concept, first announced last year, will debut at Understory, the 35,000-square-foot space in Skanska USA Commercial Development’s upcoming Bank of America Tower. More Tacos y Tortas may open in areas such as the Heights, the Energy Corridor or Bellaire. Alex Padilla, corporate executive chef for Legacy Restaurants, will create the menu at Tacos y Tortas, which will consist chiefly of tacos and tortas, a type of Mexican sandwich.
The menu at The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston will be identical — down to prices — to the location on Navigation. The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is well-known across the city for its chicken and beef fajitas, as well as its tamales, tacos and plates.
“We’re not trying to raise prices just because we’re in Uptown,” Horowitz said.
Australia native Jason Gould will be executive chef at the Uptown location. Prior to joining Legacy, he had been corporate chef at Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen since 2010, per a January press release. Before that, he spent time at Houston restaurants such as Gravitas and Aries.
In addition to Ninfa’s, Legacy also owns Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys, which will open a Texas Medical Center location at 6618 Fannin St. — at the base of the Medical Towers Building at 1709 Dryden Road. Antone’s currently has two locations at 4520 San Felipe St. and 2724 W. T.C. Jester Blvd. but plans to open more.