Dining With Denise Neil

After 3 years on the market, longtime Wichita Mexican restaurant spot sells to new owners

Restaurants Wichita lost in 2018

Beloved Wichita restaurants that closed their doors in 2018.
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Beloved Wichita restaurants that closed their doors in 2018.

After three years on the market, Cortez Mexican Restaurant at 344 W. 29th St. North has finally sold, owner Mary Cortez said this week.

The restaurant’s last day in business will be Saturday, and then the owners of Tacos Porfias at 2247 N. Broadway will take the space over.

“I’m happy, but I’m sad because of all the memories,” Mary Cortez said. “Thirty four years is a long time, you know?”

Mary and Enrique Cortez first put their restaurant on the market in 2016 after having run it for 32 years. They closed the restaurant in February of 2017, saying they needed a break.

Tacos Porfias on North Broadway is moving into the Cortez space. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

The building didn’t sell, and the couple grew bored, so in February 2018, they started reopening a few days a week, delighting their longtime regulars. They decided to continue with that plan until they found buyers.

Tacos Porfias, owned by Jaime Cazares and family, first opened as a concession trailer 15 years ago. Cazares moved the business into the tiny building on North Broadway six and a half years ago, he said.

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The restaurant is famous for its Durango-style gorditas, Cazares said, and it attracts big families in on the weekends who just can’t fit in the little restaurant, which has only seven tables.

“We finally decided that it was time to move on and get a bigger and better place,” he said.

Cazares said he’s hoping to open in the Cortez space in a week and half. He’ll keep the restaurant on North Broadway open for now, too, though he says he will eventually close it.

Once the restaurant is established in the new space, he said, he plans to take advantage of the massive Cortez building, which also includes a separate night club space, and put on some events.

closed cortez
The Cortez Mexican Restaurant space will have a new tenant in a couple of weeks. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

He’s planning to open the new Tacos Porfias from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except Wednesdays. I’ll let you know when it opens.

Mary Cortez said customers can get a final taste Cortez’s enchiladas, tacos and queso from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, when she’ll offer her famous Mexican buffet one last time.

Saying goodbye will be bittersweet, she said. She plans to put on a garage sale — something she could never do since she was always working on traditional garage sale days. After that, she and her husband will take a trip.

There’s a good chance they’ll get bored and try to come back with some kind of restaurant down the line, Mary Cortez said.

“Maybe after a break...” she said. “Who knows?”

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.