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Ninfa's On Navigation

What's Good In Your Hood
This Tex-Mex institution in Houston claims it invented the fajita (skirt) steak taco but they're not stuck in the past.
Show transcript
00:01
This.
00:02
Can you see me through the steam?
00:05
This makes you wanna be regal about it.
00:06
You know, I'm gonna like you wanna sit back, you gotta put your
00:08
pinky up.
00:22
They say, yeah.
00:26
Yeah, we are here in Houston, a kah town at restaurant, a landmark
00:30
here and also the birthplace of the Tex Mex fajita.
00:33
Let's go check it out.
00:40
Welcome to the Oh yeah.
00:45
What's good in your hood is all about the journey towards being
00:48
better and when it comes to Houston, no one doesn't better
00:50
than on navigation.
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We are the mothership of the fajitas.
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The real fajita fajitas come from cow which is outside skirt
01:00
belt belt like a like a OK.
01:03
So basically fajita means we're taking a strip of the cow.
01:08
It's coming on the inside of the animal, right?
01:11
Yeah.
01:13
So I say let me get a uh a tofu for I be like there is no, you pick
01:20
somebody at the restaurant, right?
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It's a history behind how discover the piece of meat that was
01:27
under appreciated for a lot of people and that once under appreciated
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cut of meat has now been the beating heart of for over 40 years
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now, seating over 300 patrons.
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It's hard to imagine.
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This place is humble origins as a right here right now where
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we are, this used to be in house.
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And when she start selling tortillas, this place took a big
01:50
lift.
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And then she came up with the idea, you know, roll up some meat
01:53
and tortillas and start selling tacos.
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Chef, Alex Padilla grew up in Houston and met Ma at the height
02:01
of her powers.
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While his mother worked at the restaurant at 18, he embarked
02:04
on a culinary journey of his own when he was taken under the
02:06
wing of star chef Nancy Oaks.
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I was uh hired uh as a dish watcher.
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I was doing that for three months and she says, you wanna learn
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how to cook?
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I said, yeah, as soon as she said, yeah, I was already on the
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grill in six months.
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I was the one of the sous chefs at the restaurant.
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Dude, how are you wash the dishes?
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You know, she's always like finished my job.
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She saw that I was, you know, ready for something else for the
02:30
next 18 years.
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Chef Alex's talents grew as he opened the various high end
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restaurants of his own and traveled the world for inspiration
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Meanwhile, in Houston, the standards at had dipped significantly
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under the new owners after the passing of in 2001, I got this
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weird call and say, hey, my name is Neil Morgan I owe and I would
02:49
love to offer you a job here.
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Oh, wow.
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I came to, and I saw, and I say, well, I'm gonna take the job.
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It's a new challenge for me when I told my mom, you know that
03:00
I was coming.
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Stay there.
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You're doing high end stuff.
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Me is not a high end restaurant.
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They didn't wanna change anything.
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They, they wanna keep it.
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You know, the, the same way.
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You know, if you, if it's not broken, don't fix it, don't fix
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it and you don't wanna reinvent the wheel, but you can make
03:20
a better wheel.
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No one's ever said that before, right?
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If you don't break the wheel, don't fix it and make a better
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wheel.
03:25
Exactly.
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That's I like that.
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I I'm gonna tweet that, right?
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You're gonna be, it's gonna be the best freaking and thus began
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a revolution at mi burritos and anything with lard were banished
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from the menu.
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As chef Alex brought quality ingredients and creativity
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back to the kitchen.
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Mixing the old with the new, the comfort food with the gourmet
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has become a unique crossroad between popular cuisine and
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sophistication.
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There's no cut corners and everything at this place and people
04:02
know that we keep adding, you know, uh making the restaurant
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better.
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I come up with this crazy idea of mole ice cream.
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How do you take something that is a sauce for chicken to a dessert
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Took me almost two years to get it right.
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There's so much going on here.
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Cinnamon cinnamon is in there, but it's also very light.
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It doesn't taste heavy.
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You gotta love those flavors.
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But you know, I, you know, ice cream is good when you seeing
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this, you think mfa's kitchen is full of cordon blue grads
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but nothing could be further from the truth.
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I can hire professional guys already, but I like to work with
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The guys are cleaning my pots.
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The guys are cleaning my floor.
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And what I do is I take those guys come with me and I teach them
05:00
onions.
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That's the first thing on.
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And from then I'm moving these guys step by step.
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The fact is you have to discover the talent and every human
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being, most of my line cooks, they were dish watchers are I
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love to do that with people.
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Doesn't do any good for me not to pass it down.
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What I learned, somebody else has to follow that and just like
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ma saw potential in the overlooked meat cut.
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That was the fajita chef.
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Alex seeks out hidden talents in his kitchen every day.
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Good job, man.
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Good job, good job.
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Welcome to the team and that is what's good in your hood.
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Thank you for watching.
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Don't forget to tell us what's good in your hood.
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In the comments below.