Guadalajara — a taste of the old country without leaving Beaumont
Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant offers residents and visitors to Beaumont a taste of authentic Mexican fare without leaving our area. Owner and manager Able Martinez believes that keeping the food true to the old recipes people love and not succumbing to the Tex Mex flair is what makes his customers continue to eat with him. “Everything we make here is made by chefs who are from Mexico and understand the old ways. We are proud of our people and the food they cook and serve,” he said.
Customers seem to agree with Martinez’s view on this subject. One couple eating a lunch meal, Mr. and Mrs. Walker from Beaumont, said they eat at Guadalajara at least twice each week. “They know us here,” said Mr. Walker with a smile, “and when we come in the door, our waitress fills our drink orders and has our places ready for us.” The Walkers each chimed in, saying the main reasons they continue to patronize Guadalajara is its convenience for them, the fact that both Mr. and Mrs. Walker can get what they prefer each visit, and the prices are reasonable. “The food is always fresh, it is family owned and operated, it offers a comfortable atmosphere that we are familiar with, and we can spice the food up or down according to our own tastes,” said Mr. Walker. “But the main reason we come often,” said Mrs. Walker, “is the staff. They are kind, considerate, and always stand at the ready to help us each time we visit.”
The couple was eating from the popular buffet, which always features five or six entrees, rice and beans, a complete salad bar with fruit and pudding, and the best chips and salsa in the area (according to the Walkers). Mrs. Walker twice mentioned the fact that the restaurant makes its own chips, shells, and tortillas.
Several folks who were taking a quick lunch break and eating at Guadalajara’s pointed out that by eating from the buffet, they could get in, eat their meal in a pleasant environment and get back to work on time, even with a short lunch period. These customers appreciated the fact that they did not have to wait for a meal to be cooked and served and that they could return to the buffet as often as time permitted. The food on the buffet did look fresh and inviting, and the food I tasted was very good. Martinez said that all food served is prepared fresh upon receiving an order and that the customers seem to notice and appreciate that fact. The buffet is constantly being replenished and clean and neat.
Martinez said that the relationships he has built over the dozen years he has owned the busy restaurant are important to him. “I appreciate our customers who return time and time again, and I value their input. We want to treat them in such a manner that they are excited to come and eat, and in a way that they will want to tell their family members and friends about our services.
Martinez also works on his relationships with employees. Most of the staff, including the cooks in the kitchen, has been with him for the entire 12 years. “We do not have much turnover at all,” he said with a smile. “I know many restaurant owners and managers who constantly seem to have folks come and go, and that costs money and takes valuable time to train the employees in the way we would like the food served. By keeping the same faithful people, our customers feel well cared for and enjoy visiting when they come in to eat.” The restaurant employs an average of 22 people year round.
The festive interior, including a beautiful garden of greenery running along one wall, gives one a feeling of light, happiness and color. The brightly colored Mexican-themed décor invites birthday, graduation, work related and family gatherings. Though there are no completely separate rooms, employees will always try to accommodate customers by seating groups together in specific areas.
One of the more popular dishes to date has been the big sampler platter with a little bit of everything served on it. Diners get two of each, shrimp brochettes, quesadillas, fajita nachos, baby back ribs dripping in sauce, cream cheese jalapenos, all served with chili con queso, guacamole, and sour cream. Quesadillas are always popular, as are fajitas served sizzling hot. The fajitas can be beef or chicken or a mixture of both. There is a Kiddie Korner for little ones younger than 10 with several choices from both the authentic Mexican fare and chicken fingers, kiddie burgers, french fries, grilled cheese and the like.
For eaters of lighter fare, there is a good selection of soup and salad and a la carte items. Mr. Walker wanted me to be certain to mention that he thinks that Guadalajara has the best fresh guacamole every day of the year. “There is simply none better in the Beaumont area,” he said convincingly.
There are good selections of steak, chicken and shrimp along with varied Mexican dinners and a fully stocked bar. Martinez said during the week, the restaurant offers a $2.99 margarita special, and they don’t change the recipe or skimp on the ingredients to make them. “I am aware that some offer a special and then water the drinks down or not use quality ingredients. We do not do that here. I want each drink to be what the customer who orders it believes it will be,” he said. They also serve many varieties of beer, including popular Mexican choices as well as domestic brands.
The lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., after which the full printed menu is in effect. There is, however, a fajita buffet served Friday, Saturday and Sunday all day. Food may be ordered for take out.
Mrs. Walker stopped and reminded me that they always saved room for their favorite dessert — flan — but that they are usually too full to each have an order, so they share one together.
Martinez is proud of his heritage and his restaurant. He lived and worked in Houston for some 14 years before buying this property a dozen years ago. He is married and has two daughters. His family originally came from Laredo, Mexico. When he is not working, he still enjoys a good game of soccer with his friends.
Guadalajara is in the Crossroads Shopping Center at 4414 Dowlen in Beaumont. You can call (409) 924-7718 for more information or to discuss your specific needs.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.