Adelaida Cuellar first sold her authentic Mexican fare to the hungry public at the 1926 Kaufman County Fair, where she manned a chili and tamale stand. In the face of increasing demand, her five sons helped her open the first El Chico restaurant in Dallas in 1940, and the franchise blossomed—much like a seed blossoms into a human. Today, at the almost 100 restaurants scattered throughout the South, chefs prepare hearty portions of traditional fare, including tacos, burritos, and fajitas, as well as tableside guacamole and, of course, tamales. Margaritas, cocktails, wines, and beers help wash down these south-of-the-border feasts.
Rated among the top fast-food chains by Zagat in 2010, Papa Murphy's houses crust contractors who assemble each pizza before customers' eyes, then hand them over for firing in a home oven. Fashion a custom pie ($9+ for a large) from a palette of 23 fresh toppings, or test the design acumen and hand aerodynamics of Papa Murphy's in-house tastemakers by going with a discus from the signature, stuffed, or delite menus. The Chicago-style stuffed pizza smuggles layers of pepperoni and italian sausage under the cover of roma tomatoes, onions, and a mozzarella trench coat ($14 for a large; $16 for a family-sized), and the hawaiian in the signature category comes topped with an archipelago of canadian bacon, Dole pineapple, and mozzarella cheese on a beach of tomato sauce ($11 for a large; $13 for a family-sized).
With 45 locations, the aromas of hot soup and freshly baked bread greet customers across the nation as they approach Souper Salad's overflowing display of crisp salad greens and freshly prepared hot selections. Menus for the buffet change daily, but can include albóndigas soup, Tuna Skroodle pasta salad, A-MAIZE-ing cornbread, and other dishes. Dine-in guests are free to fill their bowls with their favorite soups and chilis, build their own salads from a plethora of crispy greens and tangy dressings, and see how much soft-serve ice cream they can pile atop a single cone. Patrons can also make a visit to the taco bar or flatbread pizza zone, and gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are available.