SAN ANTONIO - Faith and opportunity came knocking at the door of the Martinez family in 2004. They opened Angel's Mexican Restaurant.
"I was a restaurant worker since I was 13 years old. I would work weekends at a little restaurant next to my house called Jesmas," Alma Martinez said.
She and father Jose Angel quit their jobs. Her mother Clara encouraged her husband, daughters Alma and Ana to start their own business.
"I was like 'oh my God we can't do that. That's impossible'," Alma said. "My mom would push us. We can do this."
Mother knows best. The family opened their restaurant inside of an existing restaurant. In fact, Alice "Ma" Harper of Ma Harper's Creole Kitchen became a business mentor for the family. In 2009, Angel's Mexican moved to 2302 E. Commerce.
Alma said it's the best decision they have ever made. The building is colorful inside and out. Black and white pictures from both sides of their family hang on the walls as a constant reminder of their lineage of hard work. Also on the wall is a picture of her sister Ana who died of kidney failure last year.
"My oldest niece is Angel," Alma said. "And my dad's middle name."
The decision to name the business Angel's Mexican Haven came easy. So did the idea to make the atmosphere and the food like a trip to grandma's house.
"My grandmother was an excellent cook," Alma said. " Sometimes when I walk by the grill I can still smell that one certain smell my grandmother's house would have."
The eatery is so earthy, Clara even sews holiday seat covers for each chair in the restaurant. For Halloween, the seat covers are orange with black cats and other spooky symbols. Streamers hang from the ceiling. And, Clara loves a dinosaur that roars in the corner with click of switch.
"That's our goal... make everybody feel at home," Alma said.
Neighborhood Eats came to the eastside business for their Tex-Mex cuisine. The restaurant provided a four dish sampler starting with the puffy taco. A little messy, but that's a small price to pay for good food.
Next, they served us the Carne Guisada plate with fluffy rice, refried beans,lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. ¡Muy rico!
The Enchiladas Suizas came stuffed with chicken, covered with a green chile cilantro gravy, refried beans and rice. ¡Muy rico!
Neighborhood Eats finished the taste test with the popular and bestselling pork chop taco. It's a thick bone-in fried pork chop. Wrap it up in tortilla and chew. The pork chop taco comes couple with rice and beans too. ¡Qué rico!
Angel's Mexican Haven is a fixture on East Commerce. The Martinez family knows the community and the community knows them. Located on a side of town often associated with crime, the business has never even been tagged with graffiti.
That's this week's edition of Neighborhood Eats. If you have a suggestion for Marvin send him an email (Mhurst@kens5.com), tweet (@Mhurstkens5) or post it on his KENS 5 Facebook page. #KENS5EATS
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