Company Description

Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant with a focus on authentic traditional Mexican cuisine and world class hospitality, is opening a second location in northwest Houston – Ambriza Boardwalk.

With the current location, founder Julio Garcia and his team have created a truly unique dining experience. Guests are sent on a culinary tour of Mexico and its history via the restaurant’s traditional dishes, prepared with the highest quality ingredients available. The menu is filled with authentic Mexican staples, like freshly prepared table-side guacamole, street corn, and fajitas. They’ve also become known citywide for their award-winning margaritas made with hand-squeezed juices and top-shelf tequila.

With the success of Ambriza’s initial incarnation, Julio now plans to evolve the concept with Ambriza Boardwalk while still focusing on the authentic Mexican cooking that made the first location such a success. The new restaurant will be located on Towne Lake in Houston’s upscale Cypress neighborhood.

Ambriza's bar and dining room in the original location.

Designed by Arizona-based CMDA Design Bureau — known for their projects with North Italia, True Food Kitchen, and Culinary Dropout, among others — the restaurant’s interior will feature an overall more sophisticated and elevated atmosphere than Ambriza’s original location, but with the same authentic flourishes and charm.

A large fire pit will serve as a centerpiece for the space, while communal tables will foster a social experience for all diners. Live Latin music in the evening will liven up the ambiance, as will the packed calendar of events Ambriza Boardwalk has planned. And just like the original Ambriza, no detail of the overall experience will go unconsidered; even the plates are hand-painted in Mexico, the glass hand-blown, and silverware hammered by hand.

Ambriza, translated into English as “a hunger for more”, seems a fitting name for a restaurant that is poised to expand its business and concept, bringing authentic Mexican cuisine to Houston diners hungry for more.


Ambriza Boardwalk will be in the corner building on the left-hand side.

Business Model

For the past decade, Julio Garcia has run a restaurant company comprised of three Italian trattorias, a Spanish tapas bar, and his latest concept Ambriza that sees him return to the cuisine of his Mexican roots.

Julio’s experience in every aspect of the restaurant industry, working his way up from an immigrant dishwasher to successful owner, means he has an extreme appreciation for his staff. In fact, he considers enhancing their overall quality of life one of the business’ main goals and one of the key indicators of his restaurant’s success. Not only does this value of the employee respect translate into the unmatched service Ambriza is known for, it also means they have less staff turnover, meaning less time and money spent on new hires.

Award-winning house Margarita

While the dining room and bar at Ambriza is known for its outstanding service, the kitchen is known for the quality and authenticity of its dishes. They source ingredients with great care, using only premium cilantro from California, melted Menonita cheese made by northern Mexico’s Mennonite community, and top-shelf Jimador tequila (Mexico’s best-selling brand of tequila, with whom they have a partnership). The cost and effort to acquire these premium ingredients is higher than what other restaurants typically incur, but Julio is unrelenting in his pursuit of authentic ingredients that celebrate and pay respect to Mexico’s culinary heritage. Julio personally visits mezcal, tequila, and mole festivals in his home country in order to bring the best recipes, techniques, and inspiration back to Ambriza. 

He even has his own mother come from Mexico every year to train the staff on her homemade cooking techniques and ensure that everything is true to their humble Mexican roots.

As with the restaurant’s first location, guest chefs from Mexico’s culinary hot spots — Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Mexico City — will regularly be invited to Ambriza to create featured menu items. Not only does this give regular customers something new to consistently look forward to, but has also resulted in some of the restaurant’s most enduringly popular dishes, such as chorizo and cheese stuffed plantains, tuna tostadas, and lettuce tacos with pork belly and blue cheese.

Street corn Quatro leches cake

Ambriza’s attention to detail regarding both its food and its service has paid off in the restaurant’s thousands of raving online reviews. Ambriza boasts over 4.5 stars on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Trip Advisor, and people travel from all over the Houston area and beyond to visit. The team has plans to increase online marketing efforts with the opening of Ambriza Boardwalk, aiming to generate significant press citywide.

Having fine-tuned Ambriza’s first location for the past two years, Julio knows what is needed to keep the restaurant busy and profitable. Liquor sales continue to increase as Ambriza’s reputation for margaritas takes off, and happy hours and brunch services have been instituted in order to add new revenue streams. Julio will implement these revenue drivers at Ambriza Boardwalk. With the larger new location, Ambriza Boardwalk will also have increased catering capacity to add another source of revenue to a proven business model. 

Location Analysis

With its first location, Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen became a destination for fans of traditional Mexican cuisine and stood out in a field of fast-casual and Tex-Mex dining options. Ambriza’s new restaurant will be located in the town of Cypress, where once again it will be the area’s only true option for authentic Mexican food.

The Cypress area is home to a similarly affluent demographic as Ambriza’s original location. Cypress is one of Houston’s largest suburban communities, and one that is comfortable paying for fantastic food experiences. As of the 2010 census, the town ranked 50th in the top 100 highest-income urban areas in the United States.

The address for Ambriza Boardwalk will be 9945 Barker Cypress Road, located in Northwest Houston near Highway 290 in a new development called The Boardwalk at Towne Lake. This 2,400-acre mixed-use development, brought to life by Caldwell Communities, is “a community connected by water.”

Complete with residential homes, hospitals, grocery stores, a waterpark, an island, restaurants, retail shops, fitness studios, and offices, The Boardwalk not only seeks to offer a place to live, but to satisfy all the needs of a resident. The main attraction, however, is the 300-acre private lake. Texas summers are hot and residents take advantage of any moment they can cool off by being close to water.

Meet the Team

Julio Garcia

Julio Garcia immigrated to the USA from Mexico and worked his way up in the restaurant industry, from washing dishes and bussing tables, to cooking, serving and bartending before beginning to run his own chain of restaurants. He graduated from the University of Houston with Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Finance.

In the past decade, Julio has opened, owned, and operated five restaurants in the Houston area, and will be adding a sixth with Ambriza Boardwalk.

Amber Garcia

Amber Garcia held various positions in the restaurant industry before joining the United States Navy in 2008, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. After her honorable discharge from the Navy, she earned an Associates Degree in Science in Medical Assisting, working as a phlebotomist. When her husband Julio Garcia was opening his third restaurant in 2016, she took advantage of the opportunity to return to her restaurant industry roots and help run them. Shortly after, both Julio and Amber decided to merge their passion for the industry and created Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen. With the success of this concept, the husband and wife team are now planning several other locations within the next few years.