Rita’s Cantina Mexican Kitchen owners Javier and Judy Gonzalez opened their second location in the Cy-Fair area in September 2021, and despite launching the location during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two career restaurant industry professionals were undeterred by that slow start. Now, they are excited to see the new business grow, Judy said.

How it started

Javier has been working in the restaurant industry since age 14 when he worked as a dishwasher, and Judy said she got her start as a hostess. After getting married, the couple moved to Texas from California with hopes to have a business opportunity in the industry.

In 2015, they made the move to restaurant ownership at their Pinehurst location, and Judy said they have never looked back.

“So one of our friends owned a restaurant, and she made us partners with her. So we decided to take that opportunity ... [to buy the business] since it was our dream to own our own business,” Judy said.

Javier is the main chef for the two locations. He spends the day shifts at the Cy-Fair location and the night shifts at the original restaurant.

How it’s going

Shortly after they opened the Cy-Fair location, the couple added a new addition to their family when their daughter, Mia, was born. In addition to raising her, the couple works daily at both locations.

“We love it. ... We are blessed. We have great customers, and we are humbled that they have been supporting us, ... keeping us going, because it's a really hard business—a lot of hours,” Judy said.

On the menu

Rita’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu features authentic Mexican food that is popular in northern Mexico and California, as evidenced by the chile colorado, or red sauce, they serve on their enchiladas, rather than the gravy served in Tex-Mex restaurants.

“My husband ... works on the menu. We have chef specials weekly and desserts. ... [We] make everything daily, fresh," Judy said.

Among the more popular menu items are the beef fajitas, chile rellenos, chicken enchiladas and breakfast tacos. Their most popular dessert is Javier’s Cuatro Leches, which is named for the fourth ingredient, dulce de leche, and is decorated with strawberries and blueberries, and topped with whipped cream.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

Judy works to keep the bar menu fresh. Happy hour is Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. featuring seasonal drinks along with cantina favorites, such as margaritas in lime, peach, mango, raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate.
Rita’s Cantina and Mexican Kitchen

14960 Hwy. 290, Houston