Tex Mex News
Mexican restaurant in Irving adds chef spin to mom's authentic recipes
At Cielito Mexican Flavors in Irving, you'll find carne asada, queso fundido, and cochinita pibil, but there is one thing you won't find: Tex-Mex.
"Tex-Mex is the enemy," says general manager Brian James. "The idea of the menu is modern Mexican. Everything has to be made from scratch, from the food to the cocktails."
This Mexican restaurant, which opened in June at 301 E. Las Colinas Blvd. in a clean, elegant space that once housed the sushi place Jinbeh, is a family affair from husband-and-wife Omar Rodriguez and Julieta Calderon, with Julieta's brother Antonio, who lives in Mexico but comes to Dallas to lend a hand.
The family hails from the Mexican state of Pueblo, 80 miles southeast of Mexico City, but have lived in Dallas for two decades, pondering their dream of opening a restaurant. Their vision is realized: to feature authentic flavors from Mexico and spotlight the recipes of Antonio and Julieta's mom and their homeland.
To help make her home-spun recipes "restaurant-ready," they recruited Armando Muñoz Vasconcelos, a pedigreed chef who owns a bakery in Mexico and has participated in gastronomic events around the world while also helping open a number of restaurants. Vasconcelos was hired to fine-tune the menu and assemble and train the staff.
"My sister wanted to have a place that was truly authentic to the food we grew up with, and most of the recipes are our mom's," Antonio says. "Armando is from a state near Puebla, and he knew the cuisine. So we could say to him, 'my mom makes mole like this,' and he put it together in a way that, if we have a person in the kitchen unfamiliar with the dish, they can recreate it."
If Puebla has a signature dish, it's mole poblano, the velvety rich dark sauce made from dried poblano peppers, ground nuts & seeds, and Mexican chocolate, which can be ladled over chicken or warm tortillas, made on premises, both corn and flour. Other favorites at Cielito include Puebla roasted quail and Mexican City street corn.
Cielito also serves weekend brunch, on both Saturdays and Sundays with breakfast tacos, huevos rancheros, and chilaquiles. But here you’re in for a blue-collar surprise. Nestled on the menu along with their traditional Mexican dishes is a very un-Mexican stack of pancakes.
“When we developed brunch, they told us that it's good to have something on the menu that is not Mexican like pancakes,” Antonio says. “Most of our brunch menu is Mexican…we know just to add pancakes.”
Complementing the ambitious menu is a full bar with a menu of crafty cocktails, with happy hour daily from 4-6 pm.
General manager Brian James, whose experience includes bartending at the Adolphus Hotel and managing Whiskey Cake Los Colinas, worked with Omar to create cocktails such as their jalapeno cucumber margarita, Mexpresso martini, and the carajillo, a hot drink of Spanish origin, made Mexican-style with espresso and Liqor 43.
The house margarita is an ambitious effort with emulsified egg white shaken with tequila, agave, lime juice, and orange liqueur, strained to create a white foam on the top, with lime and orange zest as an aromatic garnish.
Antonio says that "cielito" translates to "little piece of the sky."
"My sister says when you are eating here, you are lifted to heaven," Antonio says.