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Eats Beat: After 60 years, Tarrant County finally lands a Matt’s Tex-Mex

Posted 1:56pm on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

That famous Dallas restaurant is finally about to open in Tarrant County.

Yes, that could mean Cane Rosso’s new Fort Worth pizzeria, due to open any day now on West Magnolia Avenue.

But it also means Matt’s Tex-Mex is finally coming west.

Matt Martinez III, fourth generation of the Matt’s El Rancho family from Austin, will open the company’s first Tarrant County restaurant.

The new Matt’s Tex-Mex in Colleyville will open in mid-March, bringing the family’s famous Austin-style chicken-fried steaks and Tex-Mex combination plates to a new shopping center near Whole Foods Market.

A new Roanoke location will follow by fall.

Matt’s goes back nearly a century, first as Delfino Martinez’s tamale pushcart at the Texas Capitol and, in 1952, as Matt’s El Rancho restaurant.

Austin insiders know the story behind the Bob Armstrong dip, named for a former state land commissioner, and the chiles rellenos with sour cream, pecans and raisins.

Matt’s also serves chicken-fried steak four ways — with cream gravy, chili, queso or Tampiqueña — brunch dishes daily, and probably the best-known “Combination No. 1” anywhere besides predecessor El Fenix.

It’s the family’s first Tarrant County location since a short-lived Mattito’s in the 1990s in fickle southwest Arlington.

After years as Matt’s Rancho Martinez, the restaurant is now plainly named Matt’s Tex-Mex.

“Some customers thought we were a steakhouse, so we put ‘Tex-Mex’ up in big letters,” regional manager Tim Jaegers said.

Colleyville looks like a “great market, around that new center,” he said, referring to the new Whole Foods under construction in the former Village Park center at 4843 Colleyville Blvd. (Texas 26), on the corner at Glade Road.

The Roanoke location at 113 N. Oak St. is the first for a new company prototype, Jaegers said.

Matt’s has four locations in North Texas — in Dallas, Allen, Cedar Hill and Garland — plus the legacy location on South Lamar Boulevard in Austin; mattstexmex.com.

• After test dinners, Cane Rosso’s new Fort Worth location is set to open any day now.

The Neapolitan-style pizzeria replaces a gourmet grocery at 815 W. Magnolia Ave. The Fort Worth special is the Gipsy Danger pizza, topped with bacon marmalade, jalapeños and mushrooms.

• If you haven’t booked a Valentine’s night dinner yet — there’s trouble ahead.

Maybe not. But by early this week, the choices were down to steakhouses like Mercury Chophouse, Mac’s or Chop House Steak and Seafood, or Italian grills like Ferré in Fort Worth.

Best choice by far at a reasonable hour: Cacharel in Arlington, offering a $75 dinner with a choice of salmon, chicken, roast duck or peppercorn beef tenderloin, plus Bailey’s creme brulee or Cacharel’s signature chocolate soufflé; 2221 E. Lamar Blvd. (ninth floor), 817-640-9981, cacharel.net.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @EatsBeat Facebook "Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat" Get alerts at RebelMouse.com/eats

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