Even if most drivers on US 75 have never stepped foot in Cuellars’ Fajita Ranch, it’s hard to miss the restaurant’s colorful exterior at the Fairview Farms property.
The restaurant is owned and operated by one of the most influential families in the Tex-Mex world, who brought their concept of a family-centered Mexican grill to Plano last year.
A Thursday lunch special, this plate comes with a cheese enchilada, beef taco and tamale, with beans and rice on the side.[/caption]
The Cuellar family, perhaps best known for its role in starting a group of Tex-Mex restaurants that became the global El Chico chain, have deep ties to North Texas. Their family’s legacy has been documented in a food exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. And until recently, members of the family operated one of the most celebrated Mexican restaurants in Dallas: El Corazon de Tejas in Oak Cliff, which has since closed.
This appetizer is served with beef, chicken or chorizo with beans and cheese. It’s topped with tomatoes and cilantro and served with sour cream, guacamole and a Mexican relish.[/caption]
El Corazon was primarily focused on traditional Tex-Mex, but Gilbert Cuellar teamed up with his cousins, John Cuellar and Cory Cuellar, to come up with something different in Plano.
“I thought this would be a really great place to do a Tex-Mex restaurant focusing on fajitas that would be simple and really cater to large groups,” Gilbert Cuellar said.
The menu features standard Tex-Mex fare, but includes some unique grill items like the “tailgate party”—a giant plate of meats that feeds four to six people.
The three Cuellar cousins, who can recite from memory their family’s history in the restaurant industry since the family came to Texas from Mexico in 1891 to pick cotton, own the restaurant together.
Cory said Gilbert came forward to him with the idea for the Plano restaurant.
“He held me upside down—John held me, too—and they shook my money out,” Cory said, laughing.
One year since the restaurant opened, the cousins say it has established itself as a casual family hangout with live music and entertainment throughout the week.
The family’s come a long way since the late 19th century, Cory said.
“It’s the American dream. You start out as poor cotton-pickers, and you retire millionaires,” Cory said.