Cuellars At It Again

Dallas’ most famous Tex-Mex family plans latest restaurant in Plano

Dallas’ most famous Tex-Mex family plans latest restaurant in Plano

Corazon de Tejas, Cuellar
The Cuellar family, which owns El Corazon Vintage Tex-Mex in Oak Cliff, is opening Fajita Ranch in Plano in June. Photo by Teresa Gubbins

The citizens of Plano will soon get to enjoy the time-tested Tex-Mex cuisine of the legendary Cuellar family, with the opening of Cuellar's Fajita Ranch. The new restaurant is set to debut at US 75 and Parker Road in June.

The restaurant will be an offshoot of El Corazon Vintage Tex-Mex, the family's restaurant in Oak Cliff, but with a little extra this and that, says John Cuellar, who is opening Fajita Ranch with his cousin, Gilbert.

"The menu is going to be a lot of the best-sellers from El Corazon, plus some new dishes," Cuellar says. "We want to make sure we have the dishes people want — crispy tacos, chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce, chocolate flan cake — but also add some items."

The Cuellar family has served vintage Tex-Mex with a Texas accent at the corner of Beckley and Davis since 1955. They also opened the first El Chico on Oak Lawn near Lemmon Avenue, and it went on to become a national chain. They sold the franchise in 1968.

Fajita Ranch will have a full bar with trademark margaritas, and it will initially be open for dinner, then lunch, with prototypical lunch specials. Gilbert is overseeing a renovation of the space, with handsome wood fixtures and a classic Texas theme. The restaurant is going into what was most recently the Hangout. Prior to that, it was a Duke's Roadhouse, as well as a Hoffbrau Steaks.

"The space has had nine lives," Cuellar says. "Gilbert had been searching for good sites. He's a little younger than I am, and his goal has always been to open more locations."

Cuellar says that El Corazon has found its footing, despite the ongoing construction in Oak Cliff right now. "We have construction on three sides of that restaurant," he says. "But people seem to enjoy the obstacle course. You may remember that our family has been in that space for 61 years, first as El Chico, then Tejano.

"Gilbert has fine-tuned El Corazon to where it's doing extremely well. It really kicked in big time for us in 2014. He wants to grow gradually, organically — but with our desire to add more menu items, we thought it was best to give Fajita Ranch a different name. It'll be the best of Oak Cliff and more."