Molinas Cantina is celebrating 80 years in Houston

The oldest Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston opened in 1941, in the middle of World War II. 80 years later, they are still a culinary gem in Houston.

HOUSTON – It’s been a tough year for workers and companies, with so many places open and closed. But Molinas Cantina has found the recipe for success.

Molina’s is a family business that has grown into a Houston institution.

“It’s incredible, number one, I didn’t think I’d live that long,” said Raul Molina Jr.

At 92, Molina Jr. is still welcoming guests to Molina’s Cantina, Houston’s oldest Tex-Mex restaurant.

“Not that many restaurants can claim to have been in business for 80 years,” said general manager Jose Lacan.

Molina Jr.’s father opened the family’s first restaurant in the middle of World War II in 1941. He was only 12 years old at the time.

“We just grew with the city,” said Molina Jr.

The Molinas watched Houston explode into the diverse metropolis it is now. Today, Mr. Molina’s three sons run the family business. The family’s recipes helped the Houstonians fall in love with Tex-Mex cuisine.

“In the 1980s you had to explain what a tamale was and what an avocado and what guacamole was,” said Ricardo Molina. “It was definitely a different landscape.”

Houston’s oldest Tex-Mex restaurant celebrates 80 years of delicious food. @MolinasCantina first opened in 1941. Several generations later, it is still there and thriving.

See her recipe for success at # KHOU11 at 10 pic.twitter.com/sehQcVbXmW

– Marcelino Benito (@MarcelinoKHOU) June 23, 2021

Molina’s was a President’s favorite for President George HW Bush, and even President Bill Clinton requested a special delivery for Air Force One during a layover in Houston.

Every guest who has ever been visited has been more than just a guest for the Molina’s.

“To us, it’s like people come into our house every day and have a good time,” said Molina Jr .. “They’re all just an extension of my family.”

On Tuesday evening, Molina’s celebrated 80 years in Houston with his beloved customers. Surviving last year was one of the biggest reasons to celebrate.

“The COVID challenge was like never before in our lifetime,” said Ricardo Molina.

But thanks to hard work and generations of loyal customers, this Houston culinary gem is ready for many more decades to serve Tex-Mex favorites.

“I think mom and dad would be proud that we are still here,” said Ricardo Molina.

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