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Within minutes of stepping into Irma’s Original, the James Beard Foundation award-winning restaurant located in the shadows of Houston’s Minute Maid Park, you’ll feel like you’ve entered someone’s home.
Part of it has to do with the big mural of Irma Galvan above the bar, which depicts the spunky owner smiling down at the main dining room like a mother looking fondly at her children. But more than that, it is her special brand of hospitality. Learn more about how cooking turned Irma's life around.
Once you’re seated, one of the servers—Irma herself, likely, or one of her kids—will greet you warmly, ask you if you’d like something to drink, then proceed to treat you as if you’re a guest at their home.
You will never get a menu. Because at Irma’s, there are no menus. Irma says it’s because most people can’t make up their minds about what they want.
Patrons can choose from items like spinach enchiladas, mole, chiles rellenos, carne guisada, enchiladas (chicken, beef, cheese, and Mexican enchiladas), chicken and beef fajitas, fish tacos, red snapper, and rib-eye steaks. During the holidays, however, Irma says emphatically, “Tamales are No. 1.”
Tamales are a Mexican holiday tradition, though she offers them throughout the year. Production increases five-fold right after Thanksgiving, when the restaurant makes between 50 and 75 dozen every week.
Irma’s specialty is the puerco (roasted pork) tamale, but she also offers pollo verde made with chicken and green tomatillo sauce, as well as a vegetarian tamale stuffed with zucchini, carrots, and black beans.
Another treat for vegetarian diners is her spinach enchiladas, a house favorite. “It’s green, so it’s perfect for Christmas,” she says.