“All you have to do is cook like you’re cooking at home, and everything will be fine,” was the advice owner Matt Martinez gave to his wife and co-owner Janie Martinez as they were about to open Matt’s El Rancho in 1952. Luckily for the 66 years’ worth of regulars since, the pep talk worked.
The Austin restaurant is now in its second generation of ownership, led by the couple’s daughter Gloria Reyna. Reyna is proud of her parents’ legacy, and many of the restaurant’s guests have also been visiting for generations. One such patron — a regular named Bob Armstrong — requested an off-menu item on one visit; on a whim, Reyna’s brother Matt blended together chile con queso with taco meat and guacamole, for a dish forever known as Bob Armstrong Dip. “We always wanted our guests to eat as though they were eating with us at our home,” Reyna says.
Bob Armstrong Dip is a short film made for the Southern Foodways Alliance, as part of its ongoing documentary project that “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.” To learn about the Matt’s El Rancho story, watch the full video above.