El Chico's origins date back well beyond the first Oak Lawn eatery opened in 1940 -- all the way back, says the Web site, to 1926, "when Adelaida Cuellar's homemade tamales drew crowds at a county fair outside Dallas, Texas." Which I mention only because, well, let's just say next time you find yourself in Saudi Arabia craving Chicken Cascabel Enchiladas (and, sure, why wouldn't you), you'll be in luck. Says this evening's release, Stemmons Freeway-based Consolidated Restaurant Operations has signed on the dotted line with Riyadh-based Safari Group to open five El Chicos thataways, with two scheduled to open within a year.
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Seems Consolidated is hot to spread Tex-Mex into some unlikely locales: Hanna noted only yesterday over on City of Ate that the company's taking Cantina Laredo to London, where, says the franchisee, "we consider Tex-Mex and Mexican food to be one and the same." And there's already an El Chico in Dubai. Says CRO CEO John Harkey, the expansion "solidifies our global appeal." Fun fact: That's gonna be four more El Chicos than are in Dallas.