Eat What Makes the Perfect Enchilada?
“The tortillas! They have to be fresh, homemade tortillas!” laughs Connie Martinez, owner of La Cocina de Consuelo. Born Consuelo Arroyo Martinez in Zacatecas State, Mexico, Connie immigrated to the US in the early 1960s, and her journey to owning a restaurant began as a church fundraiser in 1983. Connie led the women’s group and sold enchiladas to fellow parishioners, co-workers, friends, and family. Those people soon became regular customers and, in the early ‘90s, her delicious enchiladas became well known throughout Austin, Texas, as “Connie’s Enchiladas.” Before long, Connie was catering parties, weddings, and other special events. She even catered to First Lady Laura Bush, Governor of Texas Anne Richards, and artist Amado Pena, among others.
But it was always Connie’s dream to open a restaurant and at 63 years of age, Connie finally realized that dream: La Cocina de Consuelo. And it’s not just Connie’s restaurant that’s grown in size and popularity over the decades, Connie’s since had four children, twelve grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, many of whom have worked and currently work at La Cocina de Consuelo, helping Connie run the kitchen and learning her famous enchilada recipes.
So, back to those enchiladas… “We make all of our sauces from scratch: blistering tomatillos and jalapenos over an open flame for the verde sauce; toasting ancho chiles to bring out that deep, smoky flavor for the ancho sauce; and grinding together the ground ancho and guajillo chiles to get that perfect earthy flavor and reddish-brown color for the chile chipotle.”
The lunch crowd has descended upon La Cocina de Consuelo and Connie’s needed in the kitchen. But before she disappears into the bustling room of intoxicating scents, Connie calls over her shoulder, “Make sure the restaurant serves their own tortilla chips and homemade salsa! That’s how you know the food will be good.”