La Lupita

Authentic food, view gives diners distinctive experience

The best way to ensure success as a restaurateur in Texas seems to be to open either a Mexican food restaurant or a barbecue restaurant. It seems there are never enough.

So when Bill and Claudia Trainor, owners of more than 20 successful and popular restaurants throughout Mexico, decided to open a restaurant in their hometown of The Woodlands, they stuck to what they knew best.

As their slogan implies, La Lupita on Waterway Avenue in Town Center offers "No Tex, just Mex," meaning the dishes created by Daniel Miranda, the winner of Iron Chef Mexico in November 2010, are authentic creations from south of the border, rather than the greasier and spicier fare made popular in Texas.

"The beauty of Mexican food is the history that it has," Claudia Trainor said. "[That history] has created magnificent fusions. We didn't want to touch the recipes. These are typical popular dishes in Mexico."

Trainor said La Lupita, taken from the nickname for the Lady of Guadalupe, offers traditional dishes from each state of Mexico, giving diners the opportunity to sample flavors from across the country.

"In Mexico, every state has different ingredients, different flavors and techniques," she said.

After more than a decade of operating restaurants in Mexico, the Trainors moved to The Woodlands five years ago. Shortly after, during a visit to Town Center, the two saw the building La Lupita and its sister restaurant, Luca & Leonardo, now occupy. Trainor said they had no serious plans to open a restaurant in The Woodlands, but the location on Waterway was too ideal to resist.

"We saw [the location] and saw there was nothing there," she said. "And we saw the Waterway, the fountains and we took representatives from The Woodlands Development Company to see our operations in Mexico. They believed in us; they were very happy with our concept."

Among the many components that have made La Lupita a success in the crowded Woodlands dining scene has been its view along the Waterway.

On any given night, diners at La Lupita are offered a view from the patio that may feature passing Waterway Cruisers, pedestrians walking along the water, live music at Waterway Square, dancing fountains set to music and children playing in a water spraying area.

Offering a new addition to a well-established dining genre meant challenging what customers had been used to. Steering diners' palettes away from Tex-Mex to authentic Mexican cuisine, however, was not as difficult as they perhaps expected, Trainor said.

"We were surprised how the market has been easier than we thought," Trainor said. "They are great to try things. They are really expecting something different. And when they find it, they love it."

La Lupita, 20 Waterway Ave., The Woodlands, 832-510-2111, www.lalupita-restaurant.com

  • Mon.–Wed.: 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Thur.–Sat.: 11 a.m.–11:30 p.m.
  • Sun.: 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m.


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