If you are in the mood for a healthy (yes, healthy) take on Mexican/Tex-Mex inspired fare, Ocho Kitchen and Bar may be the spot for you. Chef Joel Harloff tweaks typical Mexican favorites to create a lively menu filled with fresh flavors that are both heart healthy and many, gluten free, like his Cilantro-Caper Salmon Ceviche and The Benjamin grilled chicken fajitas. Last night Chef Harloff invited a handful of local media folks out to his 8Bar upstairs for a tasting of a few of his new menu offerings, paired with seasonal cocktails. Healthy eating and tasty spirits? I had to attend and taste as his guest.
Jump for more and a look at Ariel Gonzalez’s beautiful photos. Continue reading "Ocho Kitchen and Bar Celebrates Spring With New Dishes and Cocktails"
Good news. Remember the old Luna Tortilla Factory building downtown? About a block from the Perot Museum? Mike Karns, who also owns the El Fenix chain, has moved into the Factory at 1611 McKinney Ave. and turned it into the second location of Meso Maya. He’s kept the original floors and archways, but the place looks shiny and new, and the patio is still the biggest highlight. Nancy wasn’t the biggest fan of Meso Maya’s Tex-Mex food-disguised-as-authentic-Mexican, but I do hear there will be chicharonnes (pork cracklings) at this new location. Wahoo.
Here’s a bonus bit of good news: Mike Karns is also opening a tacqueria one block away from Klyde Warren Park on Caroline Street. La Ventana will serve everyday Mexican food (so, basically, tacos with homemade white tortillas) at this spot where you can quench your thirst with margaritas, Mexican beers, and Mexican sodas.
So, what does this mean? In summary:
Mesa needs more love.
At the media dinner I was invited to last night, there wasn’t a single breathing soul in the restaurant besides the bloggers and writers tasting the new menu by Raul Reyes, owner and chef extraordinaire of Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine. Sure, it was a Wednesday evening, but it was still surprisingly empty for a restaurant of such high caliber.
Perhaps Reyes’ new fall menu can persuade enough people to venture out to the adventurous side of Oak Cliff, where Mesa is squeezed between a pawn shop and bakery.
Jump for some sweet shots by Melisa Oporto. Continue reading "Mesa’s New Fall Menu is Spectacular"
The M Crowd has announced an agreement with The Chevy Chase Land Company to open a Mi Cocina restaurant at The Collection at Chevy Chase, a luxury shopping destination located just ten minutes from downtown Washington, D.C. I’m sure former President George W. Bush wonders why his good buddy Ray Washburne, founder and part owner of Mi Cocina and Highland Park Village, waited to move Dallas Tex-Mex to D.C. until he was out of office. Perhaps Washburne is planning to spend more time in the nation’s capitol and I don’t mean making tacos. Could happen. He’s the kind of guy politicians like to court over strong margaritas. Today MCrowd owns 21 restaurants in Texas, Oklahoma, and Atlanta. Tomorrow, the world?
[Fun Fact from co-worker: "As someone who lived not far from The Collection at Chevy Chase, it would probably take at least 25 minutes to get to downtown DC from there."]1 Comment »
Abraham Salum, owner of Komali, was surprised when he found out that his execuchef, Anastacia Quinoñes, had never been to Mexico City. The city is Salum’s birthplace and, he knew, the gastronomical battlestar of Mexico, so he took her! The two spent three days visiting restaurants, markets, producers and a few historical sites. We will present a series of videos of their trip with the first one appearing today.
Note: These videos were shot at Salum restaurant as service was starting so there is some background noise and some uncooperative light conditions. We appreciate your forbearance.
Some of the dishes found on their travels are now appearing as specials on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Komali. The popular ones will join the regular menu.4 Comments »
Greyhounds that is. Yesterday evening the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas (GALT) took over the patio at Maximo Cocina Mexicana and Margarita Lounge in Addison for a fundraiser based around a premium Tequila tasting. Humans sipped on three tequilas from Hornitos and one from Sauza Blue. Greyhounds, and other breeds brought in by their owners, sipped on water from provided bowls. Chef Amador Mora and his staff served a Mexican hors d’oeuvres buffet of vegetarian empanaditas, tenderloin pincho with chimichurri, Maximo crabcakes, chicken flautas, and homemade chips, salsa and queso amarillo.2 Comments »
Monica Greene has never been afraid of change. Moments ago she told me she is leaving the business of Monica’s Aca Y Alla in Deep Ellum to her partners who will close the restaurant at 2914 Main Street, remodel the space, and reopen as a yet-to-be-named Mexican restaurant. Monica is moving all of her energy over to the iLume Building on Cedar Springs where she has been in the planning stages of opening Tajin. When the Sushi Axiom closed, Monica decided to take the space and open up the walls of Tajin into the space and create a new concept. The 7,600-square food space will now be Monica’s Nueva Cocina and ME Lounge. It was a difficult decision for Greene to leave Deep Ellum where she has been a major player for over 20 years. More on the food later. Monica has written a letter to YOU. It’s below.
UPDATE: Monica is on her way to Houston. I got lucky when she answered her cell phone. “This [move] has been a real struggle for me,””Greene said. I’ve always been committed to urban development. I believe in Dallas but unfortunately the area [Deep Ellum] has taken a long time to develop. It’s time for me to expand and open my doors to a larger audience.”
I say, you go girl. It’s a great move. She has been in, what I would call, an abusive relationship with Deep Ellum for a long time. It’s time she made a fresh start. That girl has some balls. Oh, wait. Nevermind.22 Comments »
Veteran Tex-Mex restaurateur Mico Rodriguez is back doing what he does best: turning out high-quality food and providing stellar service. The co-founder of Mi Cocina, Taco Diner, and The Mercury bottomed out in 2008 when he lost control of his company, M Crowd. He is no longer involved in the popular Tex-Mex chain, but he is happy to start over slowly. “I started out with 12 tables and hit it big,” Rodriguez says. “I’m in here waiting tables and watching everything going on.” If Rodriguez keeps doing what he has been doing at Mr. Mesero over the last five months, he will have another shot at stardom.
Alejandra Arreguin, a 23-year-old student of the Politécnico de Guanajuato, is one of five students who traveled all the way from León, Mexico to Dallas last week for the 3rd Annual Savor Mexico (a collaboration between Desperados, the Consulate General of Mexica, and Politécnico de Guanajuato). Arreguin and the other 1st place winners from their respective categories prepared award winning dishes for a large crowd that gathered at The Milestone Culinary Arts on Friday. Desperados provided margaritas and mojitos as traditional Mexican music played throughout the evening, creating a festive ambience for the Yucatan-inspired dishes.
Jump for the photos.
Mid to upscale Mexican cuisine is on a roll. Since last year (and despite the recession), this area has seen additions like Alma (RIP), Komali, Mesa, and Mesomaya added to main stays like Javier’s and Maximo. Four months ago, Lazaranda came to Addison Walk’s restaurant row on Belt Line in Addison. Each of these restaurants is different in terms of its influences, so a media event last week afforded me the chance to put this new entry in context.
Oh, how we all got our pancakes in a wad when we learned that Mi Cocina was taking over the Matt’s Rancho Martinez space when their lease was up in next month! Tim called it an upgrade! Eso es sandeces! Longtime Matt’s fans cried at the loss. Well, nobody has to cry any more and Tim can stop gloating: Now you can have a Mambo Taxi and Matt’s soul-soothing chiles rellenos too! Mi Cocina will take over the Matt’s space in March and Matt’s will move barely a half mile away into ACROSS THE STREET FROM the space formerly known as Molly Maguire’s on Live Oak. I love happy endings.
UPITTY DATE: Mark this day down. Tim was WRONG!
Had lunch there today and was told by our waitress that they are closing on Sunday.
Is the Dallas revolution in Mexican cuisine flatlining?
Raul Reyes opened his first restaurant in 2008, a tiny place in Oak Cliff serving the colorful cuisine of his birthplace, the Veracruz region of Mexico. La Palapa Veracruzana was run by his family, wife Olga working as his co-chef, daughter Jaretzy taking managerial duties, and son Raul Jr. waiting tables. The seafood-centric menu snagged the palates of serious food lovers and critics in Dallas, but the kudos posted on food blogs and the glowing reviews couldn’t keep it alive. It closed after only a year.
“We never pulled an alcohol license,” Reyes says by way of explanation. “I couldn’t. My daughter was manager and she was only 17.”
Dejected, Reyes figured he would have to shed his chef whites forever and return to the construction business to support his family. Before La Palapa Veracruzana closed, Reyes had augmented his income by taking on handyman jobs. Chris Zielke, co-owner of Bolsa and Smoke, had hired Reyes to rebuild the bar at Bolsa, the popular farm-to-table restaurant in the Bishop Arts District. So Reyes showed up at Bolsa one day and told Zielke he’d closed his restaurant. Zielke encouraged Reyes to try again.8 Comments »
Manuel’s Creative Cuisine, a new upscale Mexican restaurant centered on local organic ingredients, will open soon in the old Bengal Tiger Coast space at The Centrum. The restaurant is the work of Manuel and Virny Arredondo. They have two locations in Mexico.
Winston’s Supper Club is opening in the old Star Canyon space at the Centrum. According to a posting on Craig’s List, Winston’s is “a new concept, Euro-style lounge with the best dj’s, sound, and food.” They are hiring “Performers/Talent/Dancers (think pussy cat dolls, also live models).” Oh, and bartenders, porters, and bookkeepers.15 Comments »
It’s taken a while for Mico Rodriguez to get the financing for his new project completed. However, today it looks like all of the initial checks are in and El Mesero (“the waiter” in Spanish) is under construction. Mico says he has been surrounded by “a lot of love” from former friends and foes alike. Ray Washburne, Bob McNutt, and Dick Washburne, Mico’s former partners at MCrowd, have each invested as individuals. “This is not an MCrowd investment,” Ray Washburne said. “We wanted to show our support for Mico. It’s important for Mico to be out on his own. We aren’t doing any of the books, we are minority investors.” The money invested by the trio accounts for almost a quarter of the total capital raised for the project.
Just a little over three years ago, Mico’s M Crowd partners filed suit against him and he was eventually let go of any responsibility in the company. (The whole story is here.) However, it sounds like forgiveness has won the day.
Mico changed the name from Mico 12 to El Mesero because, according the terms of his dismissal from MCrowd, he is not allowed to use trademarks used by any of the MCrowd businesses. He is currently overseeing the construction of the former Burger Girl space at 4444 McKinney Ave. He is in the process of “auditioning” chefs. “The menu is an evolvement of the Tex-Mex I know,” Mico said. “I call it American Mexican. We will have honest American classics, interior Mexican dishes, and Tex-Mex.” Honest American classics will include hamburgers and Caesar salads. Interior Mexican will involve some moles. And Tex-Mex? “People here are always going to want nachos, fajitos, and quesadillas,” Mico said. There will also be plenty of tacos and tequilas. El Mesero will be open until 1:00AM.7 Comments »
Several eagle-eyed Dishers and Pegasus News have reported Mico sightings at the space formerly known as Burger Girl. I spoke with Mico Rodriguez and he detailed his vision for a small restaurant. However, nothing has been finalized and nothing is official. I know several of you saw a Mico 12 sign go up, but it is my understanding it has been taken down. Mico is eager to get going but loose ends need tightening. Stand by.8 Comments »
Alma‘s execuchef Anastacia Quinones tipped us off to an event that she (rightly) assumed would be right up our alley. On Sept. 4, from 6 to 10 pm, the Bishop Arts District plays host to the Hotter than Hell Margarita Meltdown, a block-party-style competition for bragging rights to the best margarita in Dallas. Restaurants from all over town will be on hand mixing up their finest agave fare. Hacienda on Henderson, Neighborhood Services Tavern, and Alma will be mixing it up in honor of Henderson Ave. Maximo from North Dallas will be on-hand defending their title. Wild Salsa, Iron Cactus, and Ten Sports Grill make up the Downtown Dallas contingent. Bolsa, Smoke, Nova, Mesa, and Veracruz Cafe will show up representing Oak Cliff. Finally, Sfuzzi from Uptown/Las Colinas will shake it up bi-partisan-style.
Here’s how it’s going to go down:
All participants will be required to make 1 specialty margarita at least 50 times. All contestants will be judged by the public. A total of $1000 will be awarded. $500 for 1st place, $300 for 2nd, and $200 for 3rd place to the bartender with the most votes. Join us for $20 per person to taste and vote for your favorite margarita meltdown. You get a wrist band to taste each entry and a chip to vote for your favorite one.
Just be sure to save some money for cab fare. This one sounds like a humdinger.
To learn more, visit the Dallas Margarita Fest website.
Taco Ocho is a new fast casual Mexican inspired restaurant that opened just over a month ago in Richardson. I attended a press event and tried some of the items on the menu. The food is listed in three categories: Tacos, Tostadas (essentially open-faced corn tacos), and Tortas (thick sandwiches). Among the tacos ($3.50 for one, $6.25 for a plate with Ocho rice and refried beans, $7.95 for that plate with 2 tacos), the Cabo fish and the smoked chicken elote stood out.
The Cubana Torta (pork, ham, chorizo, jalapeños, spicy mustard, and Oaxaca cheese) and the Pobrizo Torta (grilled chorizo, poblano peppers & onions, black bean spread, Oaxaca cheese and salsa verde) were winners. But my favorite (on account of my avocado dependency) was the Mixteca. A torta with chips is $7.95.
Jump for the full report.7 Comments »
Meso Maya opened tonight. The “simple modern Mexican food” restaurant is located in the former Chic from Barcelona space in Preston Forest Shopping Center a couple of doors down from Dough. The 4,800-square foot space is owned by Mike Karns, president of El Fenix. The chef is Nico Sanchez, formerly of Consilient Restaurants (The Porch, Hibiscus). The house specialty will be Budin Azteca, sort of a Mexican lasagna or tortilla pie if you will, along with sopas such as sopa de lima and posole de puerco.