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New Meetup: The Next Three Days & Matt's Famous El Rancho

From: Terry I.
Sent on: Monday, November 8, 2010 9:42 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Dinner & A Movie!

What: The Next Three Days & Matt's Famous El Rancho

When: Saturday, December 4,[masked]:00 PM

Where: Regal Westgate 11
4477 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78745

It's been suggested, so let's do it! The weekend after Thanksgiving [Saturday, December 4] let's go see The Next Three Days starring Russell Crowe & Liam Neeson. We'll meet Saturday, December 4th; the movie should start around 5:00pm at Regal Westgate 11 (Westgate Ln & Lamar). Afterward, we will grab dinner at Matt's Famous El Rancho right around the corner on Lamar. Below are some overviews for both the movie and restaurant! See you on the 4th and Happy Thanksgiving!

The Next Three Days
Starring: Russell Crowe; Liam Neeson & Elizabeth Banks

Life seems perfect for John Brennan until his wife, Lara, is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn't commit. Three years into her sentence, John is struggling to hold his family together, raising their son and teaching at college while he pursues every means available to prove her innocence. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison. Refusing to be deterred by impossible odds or his own inexperience, John devises an elaborate escape plot and plunges into a dangerous and unfamiliar world, ultimately risking everything for the woman he loves.

Matt's Famous El Rancho

When Matt?s El Rancho first opened its doors in 1952, the menu featured only blue-plate specials, such as chicken fried steak. I was the occasional enchilada special, however, that ultimately garnered the most attention and it wasn?t long afterward that Mexican food began to take over the menu.

Some of the early patrons may have remembered Matt Martinez as the little boy on Congress Avenue with a wooden pushcart selling tamales from his father?s restaurant, El Original. More recent memories would have been on Matt?s Golden Gloves boxing championship and following professional career. Most likely, however the customers were preoccupied with the food and service that would later take Matt?s El Rancho to national fame.

Matt?s El Rancho started with about 10 tables at a tiny location at 302 East First Street. Matt worked the front, while his wife Janie worked the kitchen. Already an excellent cook, Janie provided all the recipes and insisted on cooking from scratch with only fresh ingredients. Matt was host and waiter, making sure everyone felt like a regular customer. He promoted the restaurant by passing out business cards and even promised passersby, ?If you don?t like it, you don?t have to pay for it.?

Not surprisingly, 10 tables were never enough, and despite four expansions the Martinez family soon needed to open another location in a small house across the street. In 1983, during the downtown expansion boom, the Southland Financial Corporation of Dallas offered to purchase the Matt Martinez property on East First. Matt accepted the offer (although not immediately) and opened the current location on South Lamar in 1986. Today, the Four Seasons Hotel stands in the former location.

From 1952 to the present, Matt?s El Rancho has gained legendary status as ?The King of Mexican Food.? The food and service brought the customers, and the customers brought fame and celebrity to the little Mexican food restaurant that treats food like art and patrons like family.

Former longtime University of Texas Sports Publicist, Jones Ramsey (1960s through the early ?80s) has been one of El Rancho?s biggest fans. He introduced so many sportswriters and editors to the El Rancho experience that they, in turn, asked the Martinez family to handle catering at the press box of UT?s home football games.

President Lyndon Johnson had a soft spot for Matt?s famous chile rellenos and often sent a jet from Washington D.C. to pick up his El Rancho favorites.

Looking at a 1952 menu, you?ll find it very similar to today?s, with the exception of the prices, of course. The older menu lists the Number 1 Diner for $1.35, and the Combination Plate for eighty-five cents. Beer on tap was a quarter.

We can never enjoy those prices again, but the family restaurant still adheres to the same made-from-scratch cooking philosophy based on fresh ingredients.

According to the founding family, many items we now take for granted in almost any Tex-Mex restaurant, were in fact, El Rancho introductions. Among them are fresh lime juice margaritas, Mexican seafood dishes, and Bob Armstrong dip, to name a few.

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