The Laurenzo family's El Tiempo Cantina — now with several area locations — opened in 1998, but this family has been involved with the food business in Houston since 1948, when Tommy and "Mama" Ninfa Laurenzo (later of Ninfa's fame) started a tortilla and pizza dough factory. These casual eateries draw crowds for their efficient service, patio dining, potent margaritas and creative variations on fajitas. Rather than the same assortment of steak, chicken, green peppers and onions, El Tiempo specializes in mixed grill paradillas
, which include a heaping helping of beef tenderloin, carnitas, jumbo shrimp, quail, baby back ribs, jalapeño sausage and even lobster. Other Tex-Mex and Mexican offerings include brisket flautus, pork tamales and bountiful veggie fajitas.
"Crabmeat quesadillas are spectacular; fajitas, more than respectable. But food isn't this cantina's main draw; it's the generous, friendly service and an atmosphere designed to make diners relaxed and comfortable."
— Houston Press