Anyone in Houston who has mentioned wanting good Tex-Mex has been told to go and visit the original Ninfa’s on Navigation. Opened in 1973, this restaurant just east of downtown has been a staple in Houston food culture for decades, and people still flock to eat the delicious fajitas and sip on some specialty margaritas. Being close to Mexico and the birthplace of tequila, Houston has many options for locals who want to try a wide variety of tequila styles, brands and types of cocktails. If you’re unsure about what kind of tequila cocktail or recipe would be best for you, don’t be afraid to ask!

Houstonians love their tequila and many bartenders would be more than happy to provide a little extra insight into what you’re ordering. For a taste of the best, head on over to Ninfa’s on Navigation and try some of bartender Ignacio Juarez’s delectable drinks and some of Chef Alex Padilla’s amazing dishes.

Chef Alex Padilla and Mixologist Ignacio Juarez
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
2704 Navigation Blvd.
Houston, TX 77003
713) 228-1175

Chef Alex Padilla, alongside bartender and mixologist Ignacio Juarez, has experienced  many different  flavors  from traveling the world. Chef Alex has been trained in San Francisco by Nancy Oaks, one of the most celebrated chefs in America. Over a five year period, Alex rose from dishwasher, his first position in Nancy Oaks’s restaurant, to become the executive sous chef of Boulevard, Ms. Oakes James Beard award-winning restaurant, which is universally acknowledged as one of San Francisco’s and the country’s very best. He has also traveled and gained world experiences while in Mexico and Europe, researching menus and developing different kitchen techniques.

Since returning to Houston, Chef Alex has teamed up with Ignacio Juarez, who has been bartending for over 30 years throughout  Mexico and the United States. Ignacio who was born in Mexico has enjoyed creating drinks from aromas and flavor profiles. Together they have combined their love of creating an experience in every cocktail to give Ninfa’s that signature twist.

Related: Top Cocktail Happy Hours in Houston

Tips on crafting a great cocktail:

“The process of creating a cocktail starts with the taste,” says Chef Alex. From there, his brain starts constructing a cocktail based on the flavors he gets from his experienced palette. Ignacio loves the aromas from a cocktail and balanced flavors. “At Ninfa’s our customers expect an adventure on every drink prepared with organic ingredients, different products and top quality.”

To create your own delicious cocktail, make sure to start with the best ingredients you have available. If you make sure all of your ingredients are high quality and fresh, the end product will be that much better. You can try your hand at mixing things you like or invent your very own margarita or other tequila cocktail. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean you have to make a margarita – Chef Alex loves a simple Avion Reposado and tonic water with a squeeze of lime.

Margarita 5 De Mayo Recipe

  • 1.5oz Avion Silver Tequila
  • dash of Cream of Coconut
  • 1.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 0.25 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
  • Agave Nectar
  • 1.0 oz White Chardonnay
  • Rim with 3 Salt Colors

Margarita Sandia (Watermelon) Recipe

  • 1.5oz Avion  Reposado Tequila
  • 2.0oz Fresh Watermelon
  • 1.0oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • Half a slice of a Fresh Jalapeño
  • 1.5oz Basil Syrup
  • Mole Rimmed Glass

Pineapple Margarita Recipe

  • 1.5oz Avion Anejo Tequila
  • 1 muddled Fresh Spinach leaf
  • 1.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1.0oz Fresh Pineapple
  • 0.5oz Mandarin Orange Syrup

Related: Ask a Houston Bartender: Your Top Martini Recipe

Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at