First Look

First Look: Maria’s Mexican Kitchen in Fort Worth

The fajitas at Maria's are topped with grilled pineapple.
The fajitas at Maria's are topped with grilled pineapple. Angie Quebedeaux
It’s been a while since we headed to Cowtown, so we were surprised when we saw that Hofffbrau’s Steakhouse near the Fort Worth Zoo and Colonial Country Club was no longer in business. Sadly, it closed in 2020, and in May 2021, Maria’s Mexican Kitchen opened in its place. This spot is owned by chef Felipe Armenta, who has been plating some of the best dishes in Fort Worth since he opened The Tavern in 2011, followed by Press Café, Cork & Pig Tavern and Pacific Table (to name just a few).
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Maria's Mexican Kitchen is near the Fort Worth Zoo on University Boulevard.
Angie Quebedeaux
The restaurant has been completely remodeled and now has a fresh, crisp and welcoming vibe. The bar seats about 20 people, and there are booths and tables around the space. Greenery hangs from the top of the bar, and fabric-covered bar stools are very comfortable. There are light pink, green and white accents throughout the restaurant. A separate dining room and an outside patio beckon on those great weather days.

According to the website, Maria’s Mexican Kitchen was inspired by chef Felipe’s mother, as it captures the diverse flavors, spices and herbs that were handed down in his family. As a young boy, he would spend his summers in Guanajuato, Mexico, where he developed his passion for cooking, flavor, culture and his heritage.
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House-made chips and salsa.
Angie Quebedeaux
Chips are made fresh here, and the salsa had just the right amount of kick to it. For an appetizer, we ventured outside of the traditional queso that you would order at a Mexican restaurant and instead went for the tuna ceviche: a mix of tuna, avocado, cucumbers and serrano peppers, sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with spicy mayo and julienned radishes.
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Tuna ceviche.
Angie Quebedeaux
For our main dish, we went with a half-pound of marinated skirt steak fajitas. We asked for medium rare and our server was a bit unsure if it could be done given the way the staff cuts the meat. But it came out cooked exactly as we asked. There wasn't much detail offered on what comes with the fajitas, so we were pleasantly surprised when grilled pineapple slices sat atop the skirt steak. The half-pound order was plenty to share between two adults, and the fresh tortillas were fantastic.

Each order of fajitas comes with black beans and Maria’s rice, which is not your typical Spanish rice. Here it's made with white basmati rice along with butter, peas, carrots and corn. If you’re sharing an order, you may want to order an extra side of this rice — it was spectacular.

We didn’t order dessert because we were stuffed, but Maria's offers tres leches cake, chocolate cake, churros and flan as options that we will have to try on our next visit. Other popular dishes that we look forward to trying are the chicken or pork tamales, which are served with blue corn, tomatillo sauce, Mexican crema and a fried egg, and the Enchiladas Tres Colores, which are three chicken or short rib enchiladas served with poblano, mole and sour cream sauce.

We obviously need to head to Cowtown more often because chef Armenta has several other new and/or upcoming restaurants for foodies to enjoy, including Café Margot (targeted opening in February 2023), F-1 Smokehouse (opening in Spring 2023) and The Duke (which will have two-time James Beard chef Graham Elliott at the helm). There is an unnamed Italian restaurant in the works as well. So, all of this should give Dallasites yet another reason to head west for a day.

Maria's Mexcian Kitchen, 1712 S. University Drive, Fort Worth. Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m – 9 p.m..
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Angie Quebedeaux is a freelance food writer for the Observer. A "ragin' Cajun" from Lafayette, she's been in Dallas since 2002. She is an HR director by day and loves to “laissez les bon temps rouler.”

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