Matt Martinez, Jr. is in Hospice Care

Mary Wilson at the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association just sent out an e-mail to the members of the association saying that Matt Martinez, Jr., who has brain cancer, is in hospice care.  Mary writes:

I was just informed that Matt Martinez has taken a turn for the worse.  He was put into a hospice unit in Irving and his life looks near finished on this earth according to Estella.  She has asked for prayers of comfort at this time.  When I get further word, I will let you know.

So close your eyes and say a prayer for the man who has been changing our lives with Tex-Mex, or Mex-Tex as Matt refers to it, cooking for over three decades.


  • Mark

    Prayers sent, very sad news.

  • Mike Ramsey

    He, his father, and his entire family have been the absolute personification of The American Dream. Lots of folks got started on their own American Dream through Matt’s El Rancho and all of the other businesses they spawned. Thanks, Godspeed, and prayers for Matt and his family.

  • publicnewssense

    If there ever was a demonstration of the phrase “Life ain’t fair.” …. Bless the hearts of all…

  • Jackson

    I don’t eat at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin. The town has so many places to choose from. But I did when my family visited the state capital in my youth. It was originally on First Street (now Cesar Chavez), on the site of the modern-day Four Seasons Hotel. Obviously, the regard it has owes much to longevity, and it does go back at least 50 years.

    It was in the 80’s that Matt Jr. began to make a name for himself in Dallas. My sportswriter friend Steve Pate co-authored Matt’s cookbook, and I came to know him in those days. As a town with its own Tex-Mex history, he wasn’t exactly an exotic presence in Big D, but he did have the old man’s famous imprimatur, and the places in Oak Lawn, and later Lakewood, did well enough and had good food. I presume the Lakewood location still does. Although Matt’s El Rancho has its own website, Matt Jr’s website also lists the Austin original and the Bergstrom airport as other “locations,” so I guess it’s still all in the family.

    The elder Matt, born in 1917, died in 2004. It appears Matt Jr. will die too young. Both are inductees in the Texas Restaurant Hall of Honor, the only father-son duo to be so honored.

    Many, many people know the family, up and down Interstate 35, and our prayers go out to all of them.

  • Thanks, Jackson. Say hi to Pate for me.

  • Kristin B.

    My Family & I have been to The Martinez Family Resteraunt. We love it there.We are sorry to learnt the news of Matt Jr today. We are praying for Peace, Comfort & Love,,for the Martinez Family.We are praying for Matt as well.
    Kris & Family

  • Fellow brethren

    Our Father, who art in heaven
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those
    who trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
    For thine is the kingdom,
    and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever.

  • Karol Wilson

    What a nice, kind man…I grew up in Austin and going to Dallas’ LaVista location is a touch of home. The famed “Bob Armstrong Dip” always brings a smile as BA and his mom were lifelong friends of my mom’s. Matt..hope and strength to you.

  • June

    He’s a lovely man and my heart goes out to Estella and all the family. He’s been a wonderful ambassador for Texas and our hospitality and food, and their heritage will go on forever. Some of my personal favorite tidbits: His granddad opened Austin’s first Tex-Mex restaurant in 1920; Matt Sr. taught my mom to make his famous shrimp enchiladas on a slow afternoon in Austin in the 1960s; and Matt Jr. himself taught chefs from places as distant as Russia how to prepare Tex-Mex food. One of the best things he ever told me (he was the best source ever for Texas cuisine stories) was that it’s no wonder that people like us rush to our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant when we return home from our travels: our bodies naturally crave a combination of carbs, protein and fat, and there’s no better source for all three than this food of our birthright.

  • Stacy Bechtol

    Matt is one of the most wonderful men I have ever been blessed with knowing. I am one of Christine’s friends from high school and I love her and the family dearly. I pray for comfort and strength for the entire family during this difficult time. Matt is loved and highly respected by everyone who knows him. I will never forget all the family gatherings that my family and I attended at the Martinez home as well as the restaurant and what absolute unconditional love, fellowship and food that were shown to everyone in attendance. God Bless You Matt. I will have love and admiration for you the rest of my life. I know I will see you again!!

  • Susan K.

    Very sad news for one of our restaurant icons. Thoughts and prayers to his family.

  • Stephanie Block

    I was so sad to hear this news this morning. My heart goes out to the whole Martinez family. I am also a high school friend of Christine’s and I would like the family to know I will say a prayer for Mr Martinez and the Martinez family. God Bless you Matt and may he comfort you and your family during this difficult time.

  • The first time I met Matt was in the late 80’s. I worked for a company called Preferred Meats (for 19 years). Matt was the first gracious soul, willing to take a chance on a NATURAL BEEF product. He was my first customer I sold “B3R” Natural Beef to. He was the first MexTEX Restaurant in Dallas that could appreciate the quality and yield of Natural Ground Beef. He is a visionary and ONE OF A KIND! His family always made you feel apart of their family, he is a beautiful soul that loves life! He always had time to share a story with a friend. I know he will be in a good place full of PEACE and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! Many blessings to all the family!

  • Cooking enthusiast

    The many times I have had the pleasure to work with Matt Martinez I found him always to be a warm, generous and kind person. He is truly a Dallas treasure. I wish peace and comfort to Matt and his family.

  • Debbi

    I went and saw Matt last night and visited with the family. He has always been, and always will be, one of my favorite people in the world. Estella is a remarkable woman, they just celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. The family is close and will be strong for their daddy. He is an awesome cook, friend, family member and most of all, person. The world will be a sadder place when he is gone; but heaven will be a much, much funnier one!

  • christine lopez (matt’s daughter)

    My family and i would like to take this oppportunity to thank you all for the out pouring of love and most importantly the prayers. Dad is receiving the best possible care due to a wonderful friend of the family that worked day and night for his placement here. Aren’t friends grand! Friends are an extension of our family. Dad always says to mom “momma my quiveris full” Five kids,seventeen grandkids, one greatgrandson,Coda (his dog) and a million + friends that he would give his last meal for. Yes dad your quiver is overflowing.Estella would like to say “Matt and I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people,in every walk of life.We are overwhelmed by the love and prayer support that we have experienced. words can not express how grateful we are to our friends,employees,and family. We know that the Lord is anxious to experience a wonderful Tex-Mex meal prepared by our beloved Matt Martinez JR.

  • Emily


    Please know that we’re all praying for your father, your mother and your entire family. May God bring peace to your family.

  • Diane & Bill Teitelbaum

    We remember many a full belly and the resulting big smiles on our faces. Matt will life forever in the mind and heart of all in Dallas and beyond. I remember the fun he had with Julia Child at No Name. Of course he had fun with everyone. We send Matt our prayers and regards. We send prayers also that the family be strong with the help of God and that they are able to think of the good times with this wonderful man.

  • Mark Maguire

    God Bless Matt, Estella and their family…what an AMAZING person this man is…and will be remembered as…I only got to know Matt about 10 years ago through my involvment with the Texas Restaurant Association. One of my fondest memories ever is when we were sitting in the lobby bar at the St. Anthony in San Antonio on September 10, 2001 (yes – the night before) with Matt, Estella and a bunch of other restaurateurs. Matt was chewing on a cigar and sippin his Jack Daniels, holding court and telling stories for at least 3 hours..we laughed, cried, sang songs and shared a piece of Matt that I will never forget. He is the definition of TEXAS to me. Estella, please give him a big’ole bear hug from me! Matt, you will be missed by so many whom you have touched and left for the better.

    God Bless.

    Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.

  • Leon Cikota


    I had a restaurant in Austin on Burnet Road called Jambalaya that was accross the street from Matt’s first restaurant. Talk about good times; we would run accross the road to each others restaurants offering customers dishes from our menus just to be silly. Can you believe we ran with trays of hot food accross Burnet! I really enjoyed those times getting to know Matt so well.
    God Bless Matt Jr.

  • Richard and Florine Galvan

    I love you Matt.

  • Charles and Denise Goff

    Knowing Matt, Estella and their family has truly been a privilege and a blessing in our lives. The stories are many and the memories are rich and warm our hearts. Matt and Estella are the perfect dinner guests. The last time we saw them, they came to our home in East Texas. Matt brought the quail and the rice; we supplied the spices and the pots. We ate and we laughed sitting at the table for hours. Oh yes…and we did have a glass of wine or two, or three or four… Matt, Estella, it is only by the strength of our faith that we are not overcome by despair. We know what awaits those who have served the Lord and loved their fellow man. Our hearts and prayers are with you always. Matt, we send our love, hugs and kisses until we meet again. God Bless You, Pardner!

  • Matt
    You have given me so many gifts in my restaurant life from lessons on customers to recipes. We love you so much, thanks for the great memories. We are praying for you and the family.

  • Dawn Jantsch

    Matt, your Mex Tex Cookbook is front and center at the State Capitol of Texas at the official store….that makes you the official Head of State, right? My dear friend,stories of you aboud throughout Texas and beyond….and yet no one can tell them quite like you. May God’s peace be with you and your family. With great love and respect, Dawn Jantsch

  • Tracey Evers

    Matt and Estella, you have brought so much joy, love and laughter into the hearts of many. No one tells Texas tales like you do, Matt. The “I Ain’t Lyin’ This Time” speech you gave one year will go down in GDRA history as the most fun-filled, knee-slapping evening most of us ever spent together. My prayers are with you and your family, and I know your faith will see you through. Godspeed. Love, Tracey

  • Roy Allen

    Matt’s sister, Gloria, and her husband, Dr. Roy Reyna, have been my friends for many years. And, I’ve dined at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin since the late 1950’s. When Roy told me about Matt’s illness I was deeply saddened. I have enjoyed many of the dishes he created at Matt’s El Rancho and I’ve enjoyed reading and using his cookbooks. He is not only a famous restaurateur, he is a culinary giant. My thoughts are with him and Estelle and their family…. May the lord, mighty God, bless and keep you forever…

  • Cyndy Allard

    Praying for you dear friend. Incredible man, teacher, presence, father— we will remember you so well. With respect and love to a life fully and well lived, and one that filled many with happiness.
    Cathy where are you? email me, [email protected]

  • Lupe Garcia, Jr.

    I was deeply saddened to hear about Matt Jr. I too have enjoyed his delicious food and his entertaining cook books. My thoughts and prayers go out to Matt and his family. God bless you.

  • Many prayers to Estella and the Family. John and I were saddened to hear this news as Matt made a distinguishable impression on us along with many others. He was a man of TEXAS PRIDE and proud of his Mexican heritage. I admire what he has accomplished and how he made a mark to Mex Tex cuisine.

  • Michael Shine

    It is difficult to put in words the impact Matt has made in many of our lives and our childrens lives. A cherished friend and partner who for almost 20 years has cheered us up with his stories, amazed us with his personality and drawn us closer to his wonderful food and talent each and every time we have been with him cooking. Truly a Texas legend and one to be loved for sure. He is one of a kind and will never be replaced in our hearts and our lives. God’s speed my friend, will see you on the other side.

  • Anna Barber

    Matt, your friendship is a gift from God. You shared your friends and gave me the wonderful gifts of Charles and Denise and lets not forget Grant! You’ve given us the gift of wonderful memories!!! You made us all laugh when life wanted us to cry. I’ve always been able to count on that with a stop by Matt’s. You always made me look good in front of the “baylor boys” at the power lunches. You’ve always made everyone who walked in Matt’s feel special, not to mention well fed and happy after a “Matt’s” visit! I love ya tons and my prayers are with you all! Matt, Estella and all the family – my prayer is God wraps you up in His arms and holds you tight!!! Be at peace my friend…ditto on what Charlie said – we will meet again! Blessings on you and your family! Love always!! ab

  • Jazzie J (Janet Williams)

    I have tears rolling down my face as I type this…..Matt is truly one of a Kind! I often look back and remember what a great influence he was for me as I was part of the GDRA and as I ventured out on my own in developing a gourmet food product and company. My thoughts and prayer are with you Matt and with your incredible wife and family. May the Lord embrace and protect you, and love your flavors’ as much as we did!

  • Gil & Liz Reyna

    To Estella, Gloria and all the family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Bob & Kimmie Sanders

    We refuse to be sad, but cherish the amazing friendship shared with Matt, Estella, and their family. Not only were his stories “Texas size”, his heart and his hugs were just as big! His last trip to Jefferson was just a week ago. We had the honor of having him in our home for what is now the last time. The stories and wit were as sharp as ever. How many times have we heard him say, “I am sooo happy”. I can almost hear him saying that now because all of Heaven is celebrating his arrival! Matt, my friend, we will join you some day. Estella, the Lord promises to be all that you need. His strength is sufficient.

  • Debbi

    Matt went to Jesus last night, Friday the 13th, at 7:30 p.m. God speed my friend, we will all see you on the other side. I’m sure Ron was greeting you as I prayed for him to. Prayers and a big hug to you, my Sista.

  • Gwen Bechtol

    As we lose a dear, dear friend, Heaven has gained a most wonderful and special man. We won’t see the likes of Matt Martinez Jr. again but feel so blessed to have known him for so long. Matt and Estella deserved every success and good fortune they have had and especially the wonderful and loving family they built, nurtured, taught and loved so much. We love you all and you are in our prayers now more than ever.

  • Grady Spears

    Matt and his family meant the world to me, Matt was not only a great friend, but he was also a mentor and a role model and I will miss him more than anyone will know! The State of Texas has lost a true friend and a great ambassador for the culture and lifestyle we all love so much!

  • Michael Shine

    I am sorry to report that Matt has passed away. Leaving us peacefully about 7:30pm last night (3/13/09), his death ends a remarkable life. We all have been blessed to be able to call him friend.

  • Lisa & Tom Perini

    Estella and Family – We love you all and are so sorry for the loss of such a special friend. We will always treasure all the fun memories that we share.

  • Estella,
    My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Matt was a wonderful friend and tremendous restaurateur who epitomized hospitality and graciousness. His smile and generosity will not be forgotten.

  • Estella and Family,

    Jeff Frankel called to let us know that Matt was in hospice and was not doing very well. We talked about the many fond memories that we had with Matt.
    Richard Galvan just called to say that Matt passed away last night. We are so very sorry for you and your family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Your Friends,
    Kurt and Jeanne Gustafson

  • Gus and Linda Voelzel III

    March 14,2009
    I had gotten a couple of emails from Tom Granberry concerning Matts’ health. Our heart goes out to all the Martinez family,especially Estella and the kids. Matt Jr. was truly a Texas Legend and Friend. HE’d always say “Partner how’s going and give you a big Texas Hug”,I’ll miss that. Estella I’m glad you convinced him to come on our last dove hunt in Brady as we all enjoyed his company,humor,and cooking guidance he gave your son. The good Lord has gained a fine person who loved Texas,Cooking, Friends, and the outdoors.
    We all will cherish the hours of strory telling and cooking.
    Godbless and God Bless Texas
    Gus and Linda/Austin,Tx.

  • Keyle Cavalier

    My family has been friends with the Martinez family since before I was born. I am saddened to hear that Matt is no longer with us but I know he is in a better place, looking down on everyone smiling that ear to ear smile that he always had on his face. His family is in our prayers and we will miss him greatly. His legend will live on in our hearts forever and his smile always remembered.

  • Natalie & Johnny Beach

    The Beach family sends our deepest condolences.
    Matt was a GREAT man.

  • Gayla Mitchell

    He was a wonderful man with a gentle soul. Never without a smile on his face. My heart goes out to the Estella and the family. What great memories we all have of him.

  • I am thinking of sitting with Matt on the patio at Lakewood Rancho Martinez, at his family’s restaurant in Austin or at No Place. His wealth of amazing tales and discussions of the joys of life. Quiet pride about his glorious food and his restaurants. He had an exemplary way of living; gliding through the day, enjoying people , smiling, telling a joke, appreciating friends and strangers equally, optimistic about the future. God bless you Matthew.

  • Cindy Dale

    My heart goes out to Christine and her family during this difficult time. I will continue to keep them in my prayers. God bless you all.

  • Adios Matt,

    You will always be in our prayers,

    Ricardo Molina & Family