Former Cy-Fair ISD lunch lady chef Beatriz Martines was born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and brought her family's authentic Mexican food to The Woodlands with the opening of her restaurant Xalisko Cocina Mexicana on Feb. 11.

How it happened

Martines’ passion for cooking started at a young age as she was the eldest granddaughter and helped make meals for her family in Jalisco. To her, cooking was about more than food, it was about having family gatherings and making memories.

“Many of my great memories are around food,” she said. “To my grandmother and mother, cooking for family is the way we show love. So that's how I feel; cooking is about showing love and respect to others.”

Diving in deeper

Martines moved to Houston in 2000 at the age of 18. She worked her first job as a cafeteria lunch lady at Willbern and Moore elementary CFISD schools from 2005-13.

Martines said her job was practical for her lifestyle as a mother, but she desired more. While working as a cafeteria employee, she and her husband decided to start a catering business. That led her to enroll in the Culinary School at the Art Institute of Houston, where she graduated with honors in 2013.

As a student she worked for celebrity chef Aquiles Chavez and later worked for a Houston restaurant group consisting of Caracol, Hugo’s, Xochi, Urbe and Backstreet Café as culinary director from 2015 to 2017.

She was then promoted to corporate chef, a position she held until 2022 when she decided to start her own restaurant plans.

“At one point it seemed to me like opening my own restaurant was an impossible mission. I didn't see it happening. It was difficult. But you know we were persevering, and continued to try by knocking on doors until one day we found someone that wanted to support us and that was my own family,” Martines said.

What's on the menu?

Xalisko brings authentic Mexican flavors to The Woodlands with staples of Martines' restaurant, trompito al pastor, as well as birria tatemada—her grandmother's recipe, which consist of chopped goat meat wrapped in agave leaves for a couple of hours to achieve a distinctive Jalisco flavor.

Another speciality includes tamales de elote, a sweet corn tamale with no protein. Martines also added a unique twist to this menu item with the presentation—tamales de elote at Xalisko are presented in the shape of corn on the cob.

Martines’ restaurant menu also includes brunch, lunch and dinner items including a kids’ menu consisting of quesadillas, pepperoni molletes and chicken tenders among other items.

At Xalisko, customers can expect authentic Mexican food with ingredients made from scratch, such as homemade tortillas, homemade Oaxaca and fresco cheese, as well as drinks including margaritas, specialty cocktails and fermented coffee.

Xalisko Cocina Mexicana

1335 Lake Woodlands Drive, The Woodlands

Hours: Mon.-Wed. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Thu.-Fri. 10:30 a.m.- 10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.