Downtown welcomes new food destination

Michelle Wulfson | The ItemOscar Martinez Sr., Maria Martinez and Oscar Martinez Jr. opened El Tejano Taqueria in downtown Huntsville earlier this month. Opening the family business has been a long time dream of Maria’s and with the help of her family, it’s finally coming true. 

The Huntsville downtown square welcomed a new food destination this month, as El Tejano Taqueria quietly opened for business in the old Bronze Star Burgers food truck.

With no web presence as of yet and tucked away in Pleasant Gray’s Trading Post, El Tejano Taqueria is truly a hole in the wall experience. There’s no gimmicks here, just a family trying to make their matriarch’s dream of sharing her home-cooked Mexican food with the community come true.

Having first immigrated here from Mexico at 20 years-old, Maria Martinez considers Huntsville to be her hometown where she hoped she would one day open a taqueria, however life had a habit of always getting in the way.

“She went through a lot … she’s a cancer survivor, so she was able to make it out of that and she’s just always wanted to open a taqueria up, so I just felt like she got a second chance at life and let’s make it happen,” Oscar Martinez Jr. said. At 22 years-old, Maria’s son Oscar is the official owner of the family business.

The opportunity arose during the pandemic, and against all warnings of risky timing from friends and family, Maria just couldn’t resist jumping at the chance. With the help of her husband Oscar Martinez Sr., her daughter Karen Michelle Abundiz, and her son Oscar Jr., Maria’s dream of owning her own taqueria came true, however she now says that the battle is keeping the business alive.

It took 3 months to open El Tejano Taqueria and the family worked through the pandemic to make it happen, however with COVID-19 closures, the process moved slower than expected. It’s a risky move for the first time business owner to open amidst the resurgence of the virus. While Oscar notes that it has been a rough start, the family is determined to make it work.

Cooking has been a passion of Maria’s throughout her life, and for Oscar, the menu is reminiscent of growing up with his mother’s home cooked meals, but better.

“I’m a little jealous because she goes above and beyond over here compared to (at home) … She’s always offered really good food at home, but here I feel like she wants to do more, and she does,” Oscar said.

A four page menu with nothing exceeding $9 features Maria’s “famous” burgers, tortas, gorditas, quesadillas, nachos and tacos – the chef’s favorite.

If everything goes well with her first endeavor, Maria hopes to open a larger restaurant later, however for now she’s content where she is.

El Tejano Taqueria is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be reached by phone at (936)439-4645.