Martinez brings skills to new Mustang restaurant
By Traci Chapman
Oklahoma City’s Petroleum Club is classic, sophisticated, expensive – it’s a far cry from the down-to-earth atmosphere that is Mustang. And it’s where Enrique Martinez worked for 15 years.
As Petroleum Club head chef, Martinez created culinary masterpieces – and members and their guests paid a pretty penny for his food, as much as for the club’s atmosphere. However, when he came to a fork in the road, Martinez decided to change his path, opening a restaurant near his Mustang home.
“I just want to cook for my neighbors,” he said.
His neighbors are excited he made that decision, based on the packed restaurant that is Texcalco, located behind Luigiano’s in a space previously held by another longtime eatery. With a completely redecorated space and a fresh way of looking at Mexican food, residents have been spreading the word on social media about Martinez’s Texcalco, open just about six weeks.
“It’s amazing the response we’ve had – we can’t believe how busy it is,” said Ivan Gonzalez, friend/general manager/waiter, who has helped Martinez bring Texcalco to life. “We have people who can’t get in because we’re so crowded who come back the next day.”
Martinez said while he enjoyed his years at the Petroleum Club, he always wanted to work closer to home, to shape his own dishes his way for people he knew and cared about. It was a dream he held onto despite some interesting temptation – the day he closed on the new restaurant, he was offered a chance to work at an upscale hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.
“I knew this is what I wanted to do, that this was the right decision,” Martinez said.
Living on five acres just south of Mustang, Martinez said he purchased the restaurant with the hope of keeping a small, bistro feel to it. Customers had a different idea, Gonzalez said.
“Mustang wanted more – they really responded so we took a look and made some additions to the menu,” he said.
That menu is constantly evolving as Martinez tests his customers’ preferences, all the while using flavors he learned from his mom. With two helpers, he cooks all of the food prepared at Texcalco, training them the skills he’s honed over the years.
“I’ve always wanted to do this because it’s my roots,” Martinez said.
While the restaurant starts and ends with Mexican food, the menu has already branched out to steaks, shrimp and other “American” favorites, served with the Martinez touch. While his 13-ounce steak dinner has a higher price of other menu items, Martinez and Gonzalez said the dinner – served with salad, vegetables, potatoes and classic chips/tortillas and salsa – was competitively priced.
“You just try Enrique’s steak once and you’ll never forget it – it’s something special,” Gonzalez said.
Diners agree, and some of Texcalco’s “non-Mexican” fare is receiving rave reviews, according to those who have tasted the cuisine and posted reviews on sites like Facebook. It’s a great start to something Martinez said he hopes lasts for a long, long time.
“This is my dream, this is something that I can do for me and my family, but also for Mustang because I love it,” he said. “I appreciate that people have already enjoyed it and are coming back for more.”
Texcalco is located at 32 W. Armstrong, near the intersection of state Highway 152 and Heights Drive. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 376-3996.