Norma Guerra-Martinez calls back to her childhood home and her close-knit but diverse neighborhood in El Campo, Texas, with the food at Ms. Norma’s Cafe, she said.

“We grew up in a small town. ... My mom did all the cooking, and she made us learn to cook,” she said. “The people across the street from us were Bohemians, and they would trade recipes.”

Back then, Guerra-Martinez’s mother would make enough to feed their family of five, plus any guests who might arrive that night. She said this inspired her love for cooking and community, which later motivated her to open her restaurant in December 2021.

“I wanted to have a place, a small cafe where people can meet and know everybody—[a place] just for the locals,” Guerra-Martinez said. “And that's exactly what it turned out to be.”

Craving comfort food?

Guerra-Martinez’s family recipes are embedded in the menu at Ms. Norma’s Cafe. These dishes include picadillo, a dish with ground beef and potatoes served with rice and beans, as well as chicken and dumplings, and beef lasagna.

Flavors often ignite nostalgia in the diners visiting her cafe, Guerra-Martinez said. Widowed husbands are reminded of spouses who died years ago when they taste her food, she said.

“The great thing about spices is they usually trigger something in somebody's head, and a mixture of them reminds you of something—[maybe] something in your childhood.” Guerra-Martinez said. “This is the food my mom cooked. A lot of people ... grew up like I did.”

About the owner

Taking care of her Pearland neighbors is near to her heart, Guerra-Martinez said, and that’s why she’s a member of the Rotary and Lions clubs of Pearland—organizations that invest dollars for student scholarships and philanthropic projects both locally and globally.

She sits on the board of the Pearland Neighborhood Center, a volunteer social services group that aids residents of Brazoria County. Guerra-Martinez also hosts monthly car shows, which further foster a spirit of togetherness, she said.

“I call this [restaurant] my last journey,” Guerra-Martinez. “It’s something I wanted to do for the community, to still be part of the community.”
  • 5517 Broadway St., Pearland
  • 346-570-5494