For members of the Molina’s Cantina family, mi familia, “my family,” embraces not only relatives but employees and customers as well–really anyone who’s walked through the door since they first opened in 1941. “My grandfather just wanted a little business where people could walk in and feel like they were wanted,” says RAUL MOLINA III, who along with brothers RICARDO and ROBERTO, represents the third generation to run Houston’s oldest family-owned and operated Tex-Mex restaurant. “I don’t think he expected Molina’s to play such an integral role in Houston’s culinary landscape.”
This summer as the Molina family celebrates the restaurant’s 77th anniversary, Raul Molina, Sr.’s deep love for his family and his customers continues to permeate the restaurant. Many of the employees have been a part of the Molina’s family for 10, 20, even 30 years or more. Customers who grew up with Molina’s now bring their children and grandchildren to the restaurant. And still, a member of the Molina’s family visits each restaurant every day, meeting and greeting patrons and checking in on employees. Although the restaurant offers many of the same traditional menu items as when they first opened in 1941, more than a few local folks have enjoyed a taste of fame by being honored on their menu. When your name is on the menu, fame lasts a lot longer than 15 minutes. Which brings us to the restaurant’s famed NANCY AMES NACHOS.
As the famous Houston folk singer prefers them, these nachos are arranged as individual chips layered with perfect distribution of each topping for a complete experience on every bite – topped with spicy beef, refried beans, fresh guacamole, melty Chihuahua cheese, diced tomatoes and pickled jalapeños. To share as a starter or keep all to yourself.
Its origin, as Ricardo Molina tells it: “Nancy Ames is an American folk singer/songwriter/entertainer who had a morning show here in Houston. Our dad was a guest on the show and was demonstrating how to make nachos. Nancy told Dad how she liked her nachos, with each individual chip layered with refried beans, spicy beef, cheese, guacamole, diced tomatoes and jalapeños. So Dad added the dish to the menu and named it after her.”