A new restaurant called La Feria will open in Fair Park with big credentials and a built-in following. It's basically a reboot of Monterrey Restaurant, the exceptional Mexican restaurant that lived on Lower Greenville, next to Ships Lounge, for decades.
Owner Leo Muniz says that the ongoing construction at the old location affected his business and precipitated the move. But he's happy for a chance to start fresh.
"The construction was going on for two years, so it was time to find another spot," he says. "But the new space is very nice."
Monterrey closed at the end of 2015, a few months after its neighbor Ship's, which couldn't handle a rent increase. Monterrey was unassumingly good, with its enchiladas smothered in chili con carne, soft cheese tacos, and cheap prices, including lunch specials for under $6. Fans appreciated its quaint, hideaway atmosphere, which gave the feel of eating in a small Mexican town south of Tijuana.
Muniz says the menu will be Northern and Central Mexican food, similar to what was served at Monterrey.
"I have a chef who has good recipes from Central Mexico," he says. "I'm more about the food from Northern Mexico. We do baby goat, and enchiladas Mexicanos with fresh cheese, potatoes, and carrots. We have a dish called tostadas: It's a huge tostada with avocado, tomato, and chicken on top."
He'll also have margaritas and a full bar. The location is a former Red Coleman's liquor store that comes with its own dedicated parking lot, which is a big plus. He's building a small patio, and a walk-up window to the kitchen for street tacos.
After 20 years at Monterrey, Muniz has a large following. "People have been calling me and asking, 'When are you going to open?'" he says.
But he changed the name out of respect to the new location.
"La Feria means 'the fair,'" he says. "That's the State Fair of Texas. The sign still says 'Monterrey' up top, but we wanted to honor the State Fair since it is nearby."