You can almost feel the island breeze as you enter this quaint and colorful restaurant in the outskirts of the Houston metro in Cypress, Texas to be exact. With a mural of the picturesque city of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico and tropical music playing in the background you are almost transported to another place and time without having to step a foot outside of Texas. We were greeted with the largest piña colada we had ever seen, served inside of a large frozen pineapple and the flavor party began. From the perfectly crispy yet soft fried cheese we lightly dipped in a guava sauce to the excitingly garlicky tender and juicy skirt steak, we highly recommend El Caribeño if you are in search of your tastebuds’ paradise.
After our “Island In The City: A List Of Caribbean Restaurants in Houston” article, we were invited to visit El Caribeño to experience it fully.
We had a conversation with Matthew Talavera, the owner of this unique Puerto Rican restaurant and here’s how it went.
Thank you for sharing your food with us. How would you describe your restaurant El Caribeño?
We are an authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine that has been family owned and operated since 2018. We pride ourselves in being the best Puerto Rican Restaurant in Houston, TX!
Tell us about the inspiration behind your restaurant.
It was originally owned by my aunt Rachel Talavera who invented ‘El Caribeño.’ It was just a small chinchorro inside of a gas station. I (Matthew) bought it from her in 2019, with the vision of transitioning it into a full service restaurant. My inspiration is the beautiful island Puerto Rico itself. I wanted to bring its authentic flavors and culture to give people, “A Taste of The Island.”
What do you want people to experience when they walk through these doors?
I want people to feel the ultimate island experience as soon as they walk in the doors. The ambiance from the hand painted murals on the walls, the smell of the authentic Puerto Rican flavors, the beautiful Spanish music playing while people enjoy their meal. We strive to give everyone the best experience when they dine in at El Caribeño.
Can you name some of your guests favorite dishes?
That’s a tough one because our entire cuisine consists of delicious, high quality food! Our most popular dishes that our guest love are the Empandillas (Fried Turnovers) from our appetizers section. The most popular entrees on our menu are: Churrasco (Skirt Steak), Mofongo (Mashed Plantain), and Chillo Frito (Whole Red Snapper). And for dessert, our guests love the Flan as it just melts in your mouth while you eat it. We offer a verity of different inspired Caribbean dishes. There is truly something for everyone!
What about the Houston Texas area made it so special to grow your business?
Houston, TX is special because it’s one of the most diverse city’s in America! There are so many different cultures and ethnicities. People in Houston LOVE to eat and try new restaurants, so I was confident that people would want to try out restaurant. Puerto Rican food isn’t known well in Houston yet, so we want to be the first ones to set that standard and make become popular.
Do you have future plans of expanding?
We do! We are expanding to a bigger location next door. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to still be in the same parking lot, but in a larger space! We are aiming to open October 1. We will be announcing everything on our social media soon.
Name your favorite thing about Texas.
My favorite thing about Texas is all the good food! You can never get bored of the same thing here because there are so many different types of food just minutes away!
Can you tell us your top 5 Texas destinations?
- Sea World in San Antonio, TX
- Six Flags in Dallas, TX
- Schlittler Bahn in New Braunfels, TX
- Minute Made Park in Houston, TX
- South Padre Island, TX
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
If you had never tried Puerto Rican Food before, give us a try, you won’t be disappointed! There is really something for everyone here. We make all of our food here from scratch, so everything is super fresh and high quality. We offer a variety of cocktails that are “Island Inspired.” We have happy hour from 3-6pm Tuesday-Friday for $3 all cocktails. We hope to see you here at El Caribeño soon!🇵🇷