Herrera's on Maple Avenue Is Closing

herreras-closing-sign.jpg
A sign tapes to the door at Herrera's delivers ominous news.
It was supposed to be easy, at least as far as tangles with the city go. Nora Ontiveros, who owned Herrera's with her husband Larry, was at city hall trying to figure out how to change the address of the building she expected would host the fourth location of her much-loved Tex-Mex restaurant. The first Herrera's was located at 3902 Maple Avenue, and when the owners were ready to expand, the second Herrera's opened up across the street in a strip mall. Years later, developers toppled that location, so Herrera's moved to another strip-mall spot, also on Maple Avenue.

When the same developers announced they'd be taking the land under the third Herrera's location, Ontiveros tentatively signed on for a fourth -- a yet-to-be constructed building built specifically for the restaurant located on the corner of Throckmorton Street and Maple Avenue, still perilously close to Observer HQ. But it bore a Throckmorton address. For 44 years Herrera's had always resided on Maple Avenue. This could not be.

Ontiveros hoped to re-address the property, but the employees at city hall couldn't find any record of the building (because it didn't exist yet). As far as they were concerned, there was nothing to change. That's when Ontiveros got her lawyer involved, and that's when she learned that the restaurant's address was the least of her problems.

While researching the property, her lawyer discovered the tax rate for the new building and told her it was far too high. "You'll be bankrupt in six months," he advised, not to mention that with all the development going on those numbers were only going to rise. Ontiveros tried to negotiate with the owner of the new building as construction hammered continued to swing, but they couldn't strike a deal. One week she was trying to change an address as a token, the next her restaurant was about to close completely.

Herrera's was scheduled to close on August 18 for the relocation, and it still is. It's just not relocating on Maple (or Throckmorton). Ontiveros is now looking for a spot Riverfront Boulevard, but she knows she'll never find anything in time. So now she has to pack up as much of the restaurant as possible and move it into storage.

During lunch service this week, waitresses talked about finances at a serving station next to pitchers of water and iced tea. Tumblers the size of Big Gulps sat nearby. They talked about their mortgages, savings and car payments. "I almost bought a brand new car this spring," one said, rolling her eyes thankfully. Ontiveros seemed more upbeat. "We have very loyal customers," she said while working the register in the front of her bright yellow dining room. The dining room was completely filled.

One customer called out while standing in the doorway with a takeout bag in his hand. "We'll be back before you close!" Other customers gave hugs. Some shed tears. One woman, a widow who has been eating at Hererra's for decades, told Ontiveros she comes back to feel close to her lost husband. Now she won't be able to.

herreras-sour-cream.jpg
This is not health food
Lots of customers have come to pay a final visit to their favorite restaurant, and I'm one of them. I've come to say goodbye to the sour cream enchiladas I'd eaten countless times when I lived in the apartment building directly behind the restaurant. There are many Herrera's restaurants in the Dallas area, all the offspring of Mama Herrera, but to me, none of them make sour cream enchiladas quite like these. They swim in a thick, creamy sauce and always come topped with a single jalapeño and a dash of red chili. When the enchiladas are gone, I pour a river of salsa from the salsa jar into the trough that remains and eat the excess sour cream sauce, salsa and beans with the sturdy, warm, tortillas chips that endlessly land on every table.

It's a formidable meal, and one that's best complimented with a post enchilada nap, but it's also food that sooths. Eat anything enough and it will grow on you. It's Stockholm syndrome but with lard and beans.

I told my waitress I was finished and continued to talk to Ontiveros from my barstool near her register.

"Things will work out," she said with a smile. "They always do."

She likely found faith in the long line of customers that had gathered to pay their bills and their respects. They looked like a congregation exiting a church in line at a funeral except they were happier. That's when my waitress handed me my slip. "You come back and see us soon," she said out of habit.

I don't have much time.

Location Info

Herrera's Mexican Restaurant - CLOSED

4024 Maple Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

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18 comments
warden62
warden62

Man, I didn't know signs could tape themselves to the door...


Mervis
Mervis

That plate is a hangover meal if I've ever seen one.

G_David
G_David

When I was a kid, there were 2 places my mom would haul us to from Irving to meet my dad for lunch during the summer - Herrera's and Escondido's.  Now they'll both soon be but a memory.  That sucks.

LuckyLadyfish
LuckyLadyfish

Be careful about wishing for a 'world-class city' Dallas...typically the only thing

that comes along with it are 'world-class rents'.  And Texas (as long as the R's are in control) disallows rent control.

Had2Wright
Had2Wright

Herrera's on Denton Drive is closed on Mondays, but has awesome service and food the rest of the week.  Alvaro is our favorite waiter, and he always makes sure the food is hot, fresh and exactly as ordered!

michael.phelps.tx
michael.phelps.tx

Man this sucks. I was really looking forward to the new place. 

Marie137
Marie137

The Denton Drive location is still around, and it's the oldest original Herrera's.  I think people forget it's there.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Note:

I believe they are closed on Tuesdays.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I absolutely love that location.  The food always, ALWAYS seemed to taste better there, than any of the other locations.  My go to is the Carne a la tampaquena, quite a hefty lunch but always wonderful on Friday around 1230.  T'was a good primer for a Friday afternoon happy hour that always turns into happy hours......It wasn't on the lunch schedule this week, but now it is.

estespark4us2
estespark4us2

That is not correct. Herrera's Cafe on Maple is the original, history does not lie. Thanks....

estespark4us2
estespark4us2

Herrera's Cafe on Maple is the original n Denton Drive came after as #2. History does not lie.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@mcdallas How many times have I walked over on Tuesdays and then sighed. You are right.

Marie137
Marie137

@estespark4us2 

I realize that. I meant it's the oldest still in the original location. I'm just glad there's still an option for people to go to while the Maple location finds a new spot.

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