El Noa Noa

El Noa Noa is only about nine months old, but its story starts way back in 1964 with a bar bearing the same name in Juarez, Mexico. The original Noa Noa was a laid back, dance-and-drink style place which caught the attention of an up-and-coming singer/songwriter named Juan Gabriel. His song “El Noa Noa,” describing how easy it was to have a good time at the bar, launched the establishment into infamy. Some 50 years later, its title and spirit still lives on in Plano.

Opened by Pedro Marcial with his two brothers and uncle in mid-2017, it’s a family business selling more than just the usual Tex-Mex fare.

“El Noa Noa is a place of music,” Pedro states. “You see the name with the guitar and maracas,” he says, referencing the sign hanging out front, “and people go ‘It must be a fun place!’”

Pedro and his extended family took the place over from its previous owner and cleaned it from the top down. What may seem like a traditional Tex-Mex place upon entering – with its neon signs, multicolored serapes hanging off the wall and bar stocked with gallons of lime juice – is so much more than what one sees upon first sight. El Noa Noa requires one to listen as much as look. “On Fridays and Saturdays we have live music,” Pedro states. “It’s got a bit for everyone – Latin music, mariachi, merengue.”

El Noa Noa’s Tacos Classicos // photos Kathy Tran

The menu is simple, tasty and pretty much everything you’d expect from a tucked away Tex-Mex establishment: chiles rellenos, dinner platters the size of a small child and a killer redfish platter topped with white wine lemon butter. The food is fairly priced, but it’s the specials that guests should be looking out for. With Pedro often found behind the bar counter, patrons can get huge house margaritas for $5 paired with their dish of choice.

El Noa Noa’s banking on the same spirit of its long-lost original relative. Live entertainment is the lifeblood of the place, with each weekend offering music, actors and even an Elvis impersonator from time to time.

Amid the dimmed lights, sizzling fajita platters and margarita salt, a strangely familiar voice can sometimes be heard – unmistakably twangy, soulful and undoubtedly Elvis. The man standing in the back is wearing a black pantsuit combo with a large leather belt studded with jingling brass inserts in the shapes of stars and diamonds. His white silk undershirt juts out prominently like the breast of a rooster, and his black pompadour hair is slicked all the way back, pouring down his back onto his wavering cape. His name is Domingo Carvajal, and he is doing his best to keep Elvis alive. He sings “Blue Suede Shoes” with surprising accuracy, stopping between songs to walk amid the crowd of diners to ask for requests, and to watch the younger crowd squirm when he asks, “Do you know who I am?”

Domingo Carvajal performing as Elvis at El Noa Noa

“Most of the time he fills up all of the space,” Pedro says, pointing down toward the lower seating area. When asked, ‘Why Elvis, of all people?” Pedro smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “Like they say, music is universal. As long as it’s fun, it’s good. It doesn’t have to have any connection, it just has to be fun.”

El Noa Noa is fun. Pedro and his team of family and friends have a deep understanding that dining here is so much more than just freshly squeezed limes and marinated skirt steak. It’s about relaxing, unwinding and getting lost in some music from a bygone era.

El Noa Noa Website >
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