For 40 years, Pappasito’s Cantina has been perfecting the home-away-from-home feeling Houstonians love about good Tex-Mex and has hosted families, couples, celebrations, and even a celebrity or two. They know their customers like their queso yellow, beans refried, tacos soft and fajitas sizzling. After four decades, their menu still offers variations of Tex-Mex fan favorites, including enchiladas – cheese, beef, or chicken and every iteration of guacamole possible

When Pappasito’s debuted in 1983, fast casual dining was still relatively new. According to Christina Pappas, Vice President of Marketing for Pappas restaurants, the Pappas brothers saw a void and felt Tex-Mex with excellent margaritas was the answer. “They began construction at the original building on Richmond and Hillcroft, but they didn’t have a name for the new concept. One of the tile guys working on the project suggested Pappasito’s, and the name stuck.” 

While the construction workers’ and employees’ initials carved into the walls of the original location are still there, Pappasito’s Cantina has grown from one location in Houston to over 20 restaurants across Texas and Georgia. It is now the second-largest concept in one of the largest family-owned and operated restaurant companies in the U.S. 

Generations of customers have grown to love Pappasito’s in-house roasted salsa, hand-made tortillas and freshly squeezed lime in their famous margaritas. The restaurant chain uses 262,500 gallons of tequila, 3.5 million pounds of tortilla chips, and 900,000 pounds of rice every year.

Pappas credits consistency of service and flavor to the restaurant’s success. “We are constantly changing while remaining a staple in our customer’s lives. We want them to keep coming back to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries – when they walk through the doors at Pappasito’s, they know what to expect.” 

Although the delicious flavors keep people returning year after year, the behind-the-scenes team at Pappasito’s plays a pivotal role. The restaurant boasts a roster of employees who have been around from day one. Among them is Andres Viera, a construction worker on the original building who then applied to be a dishwasher. Since then, he has worked in nearly every position, from busser to grill cook. Now, he trains many new employees at the Memorial City location, including managers and general managers. 

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Pappasitos will have a month-long celebration including $40 for 40 fajitas on Wednesday, a commemorative 40th anniversary mug with Fiesta Fizz or Pappasito’s Signature Reserva Margarita, and a special Fiesta Fudge Brownie. Guests will also be able to win one of ten $400 gift cards by entering online and E-Club members will receive additional perks throughout the month.