Down Memory Lane:
Apache Mexican Restaurant Turns 50
Story & Photos By Shannon Rowan Hall
On November 22, Apache Mexican Restaurant will turn 50. Miguel Lopez wants to give credit to his father-in-law and mother-in-law for what they have done over they years – created a Mexican restaurant where all the recipes are made fresh daily with the philosophy of being consistent.
Ildefonso and Frances Ochoa founded Apache Mexican Restaurant in downtown Galveston. They came to the states from the little town of Morelos in Coahuila, Mexico in 1947. Ildefonso decided to join his brother in Galveston where they started a buisiness together on 35th Street and Avenue H called Apache Tortilla and Tamale Factory.
“They made homemade tortillas and tamales,” said Lopez.
The business was successful until Hurricane Carla. The brothers parted from their business venture together, but Ildefonso kept the Apache name and found a new location.
The Ochoas managed to keep their business going and growing while raising a family of five children. As their kids grew up, they helped with the family business. “They managed to send all their children to college,” said Lopez. “They all have careers now and came out of this place with a great work ethic.”
Lopez said the business really grew in the 70s. Meals were served cafeteria style for quick turn around. It was during that time that Apache’s “Surprise Burrito” came about. “People would come in and say ‘Just surprise me!’,” said Lopez, who added that they would take what ever was already made in the restaurant and make a burrito with those ingredients.
Lopez, who took over in 2001, said that it took him a while to get the business down. “They were very tough teachers,” added Lopez. “I learned by watching them, and no matter what, they always used exactly the same amount of the same thing in all their recipes.”
After Ike, Lopez had his doubts about recovering, but he stated his father-in-law was his biggest supporter. Together they worked to get Apache back up and running while he worked at Fish Tales on the Seawall.
Apache has been recognized over the years by The Houston Chronicle, Home & Garden, and most recently after Ike, Texas Monthly.
Lopez invites everyone to come join in the celebration of 50 years during the week of Apache’s Birthday. Call for details! 409-765-5646.
Apache Mexican Restaurant is located at 511 20th Street.
Open since 1960, this family owned and operated business must be doing something right!