El Mejicano Restaurant & Cantina began serving great Mexican cuisine in 1983 right here, at Interstate 44 and Missile Road. On Veterans Day in 1985, we opened our doors at 9th & Beverly, a large and beautifully decorated building with a real “south of the border” flavor. The building was a little off the beaten path. It was a place one had to want to go to in order to get there. Yet, many of our loyal patrons made the trip from near and far – areas such as Graham, Olney, Seymour, Lawton and many more. In 2006, after the completion of our beautiful, new shopping center, we came back to our original location. In fact, the name of the shopping center, Catarina Court, was chosen in honor of Catarina Soliz Cantu, mother of owner Ricardo Cantu.
No historical account of El Mejicano would be complete without telling the story of Catarina, who is the real inspiration behind the fabulous food. Catarina’s wide variety of delicious dishes is the basis for much of what one will find at El Mejicano. Catarina worked as a cook at the Callahan Ranch near Laredo from 1942 until 1947. Here, she became widely known for her cooking skills. After leaving the ranch, she and her children traveled to several different states where they often worked the fields thinning sugar beets and picking potatoes or cotton and harvesting celery or onion. During these times, Catarina’s campsite would play host to Sunday night gatherings of the workers, where she would work her magic and cook, literally over campfires, and turn out her delicious meals of tortillas, beans, and guiso. Everyone loved Catarina’s cooking, and over the years, her dishes almost took on a life of their own. She ultimately moved to Nebraska in the 1950s where she continued the tradition of cooking great Mexican dishes until her passing in 1974. Today, one can enjoy many of the great foods she became known for because her son, Ricardo Cantu, serves many of her recipes just as she made them at El Mejicano.
One of the favorites on the El Mejicano Buffet is Carne Guisada. Guiso is Mexican-style stew cooked with beef or chicken in liquid, and the offering at El Mejicano is the best one will ever taste. The recipe came directly from Catarina, so be sure to try it when you come to the buffet.
With El Mejicano’s reputation of having the cleanest kitchen in Wichita Falls, we are also a favorite of the local law enforcement community who often have their large gatherings and meetings at the restaurant. Ricardo Cantu firmly believes in the phrase “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” As a food service provider to some of the nation’s largest military bases through his company, Cantu Services Inc., he understands the necessity of having a clean restaurant and kitchen. That fact does not go unnoticed by the city health inspectors who are frequent El Mejicano patrons. Ricardo attributes a major portion of the success of El Mejicano to this on-going commitment to clean and healthy conditions.
El Mejicano has been providing great food, great service, and a friendly atmosphere for over thirty-five years, and that’s just the beginning!