El Fenix (restaurant)

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El Fenix Restaurant in Downtown Dallas

El Fenix is a popular chain of Mexican restaurants in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, (Texas) and the oldest chain of Mexican restaurants in the U.S. The name is Spanish for "the phoenix", the legendary bird which, according to mythology, arose from its own ashes. The chain has its headquarters in Dallas.[1]

It was founded in 1918 by Miguel (Mike) Martinez, and then sold on May 30, 2008 to an investment company. Often, at its main location in downtown Dallas, the lunchtime line of patrons spills out the front door and down Alamo Street. El Fenix is known for its brand of "Tex-Mex cuisine" and the Wednesday “Enchilada Dinner Special,”[2] which features two cheese enchiladas, refried beans, and rice.

According to Alfred Martinez (son of Mike Martinez), the downtown location serves about 1,200 lunches on a typical Wednesday or Friday and about that many more for dinner. After 90 years of ownership by the Martinez family, it was announced on June 5, 2008 that the family would sell the company to Dallas-based Firebird Restaurant Group LLC.[3]


Originally Mike Martinez owned Martinez Café; most of its dishes were American cuisine. It was converted into El Fenix on September 15, 1918. The name was chosen since a phoenix signifies a rebirth. The original restaurant was in Downtown Dallas.[4]

In the 1960s the original restaurant closed. In 1965 the original restaurant re-opened across the street at 1601 McKinney Avenue. In 2008 the Martinez family sold the chain to Firebird Restaurant Group LLC.[4] The Martinez family used the code name Firebird when selling the chain. Firebird president Mike Karns paid the Martinez family over $30 million in cash; this was the family's asking price. At the time the annual sales were $33 million and there were 15 restaurants.[5]

In 2011 there were 20 El Fenix restaurants in Texas.[4] By 2014, the number of El Fenix restaurants had increased to 22 restaurants, and an El Fenix had opened at the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. Karnes expected that the annual sales in 2014 would be at least $50 million. That year, Karnes stated that he planned to expand the chain in Oklahoma, East Texas, and West Texas.[5]

Corporate headquarters[edit]

The parent company of El Fenix is headquartered in Uptown Dallas. It announced its plans to acquire this building in 2012.[6]

Previously El Fenix had its headquarters in the 11075 Harry Hines Boulevard building, which had 32,086 square feet (2,980.9 m2) of space. It had about 7,000 square feet (650 m2) of office space, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities, and was built in the mid-1960s.[7] In 2011 El Fenix Corp. announced that the former headquarters were for sale. The individuals marketing the former El Fenix building were Mark Miller of NAI Robert Lynn, Jim Svidron, and James Collins.[8] In 2013, Tweaker Energy Drinks purchased the former El Fenix headquarters.[7]


As of March 13, 2018 there are 22 North Texas locations:[9]

Dallas locations[edit]

Suburban locations[edit]

In addition the chain operates a store inside Winstar World Casino.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact Archived 2009-02-09 at the Wayback Machine." El Fenix. Retrieved on January 18, 2010.
  2. ^ Information available at El Fenix Restaurants and personal observation.
  3. ^ Robinson-Jacobs, Karen (2008-06-06). "El Fenix restaurant chain sold after 90 years of family ownership". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  4. ^ a b c Rosales, Christina. "Dallas-based El Fenix restaurants celebrate 93 years of Tex-Mex tradition" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News. September 20, 2011. Updated September 21, 2011. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Hall, Cheryl. "Mike Karns has big plans for El Fenix, Snuffer’s chains" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News. March 1, 2014. Updated March 3, 2014. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Brown, Steve. "El Fenix nears purchase of Uptown office building" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News. June 7, 2012. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Steve. "Former El Fenix headquarters sells to beverage maker" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News. April 24, 2013. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Carlisle, Candace. "El Fenix to sell Harry Hines HQ" (Archive). Dallas Business Journal. December 9, 2011. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  9. ^ [1] www.elfenix.com

External links[edit]