It was 1926 at the Kaufman County fair. A large crowd gathered around a small stand, where Adelaida Cuellar stood passing homemade tamales and chili into outstretched hands. The high demand for her recipes continued after the fair grounds were emptied, and soon after, Adelaida opened a small café, Mama’s Kitchen, with the help of her 12 children. In 1940, five of her sons moved the eatery to another location in Dallas, re-christening it El Chico, which means, “the five sons that opened their mother’s restaurant in a new place”. More locations soon followed, with close to one hundred now in operation. And, just like Adelaida, the El Chico team spent some time passing out their specialties from a stand when they fed a crew of local volunteers on an episode of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
At El Chico, Adelaida’s recipes still appear on the menu, from the spicy enchiladas with chili con carne sauce to the mexican apple pie with mexican brandy butter sauce and cinnamon ice cream. El Chico also has its own signature line of dishes called Top Shelf, which includes fajitas and quesadillas.