The Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2012

Which kitchens were the cream of this year's crop?

(clockwise from top left) ENCHILADAS OAXAQUENAS, MICO RODRIGUEZ, THE ROSE BURGER photography by Kevin Marple


If you want to see the biggest comeback story of 2012 in person, take a seat in Mr. Mesero and look for the man dressed in smart white linen with perfectly coifed jet-black hair. The dashing figure attending to the needs of loyal patrons is Mico Rodriguez, a restaurateur who achieved fame and fortune and lost it all. Four years ago, Rodriguez was ousted by fellow co-owners from the MCrowd Restaurant Group, which has launched some of Dallas’ favorite restaurants (The Mercury, Taco Diner, the multi-unit Mi Cocina). One wondered if Rodriguez would ever recover from such a public downfall. But he managed to get his life back together and attract some investors, including a couple of his former MCrowd partners.

His new restaurant, with its blend of delicious Mexican-American fare and inspired decor, was an instant hit. Housed in the former La Cubanita space, Mr. Mesero feels transported from San Miguel de Allende, with its crisp wood and cast-iron accents, billowy curtains, and  picturesque wraparound porch. It’s a handsome setting for Rodriguez’s stylish and fresh fare, a welcome respite from cheesy-greasy Tex-Mex.

These are Mexican classics done with panache. A bowl of queso mesero features soothing white cheese blended with spinach, artichoke, and roasted poblano. It promotes the standard starter to best-in-Dallas status. Soups include fideo y pollo, a soulful bowl of vermicelli and chicken, and pollo y tomatillo, a tart, fiery, green pozole. Combination platters—the linchpin of every Mexican restaurant—are uncommonly good and atypical, featuring chilorio-style pork enchiladas, brisket tacos, and more. Even Mexican rice achieves stardom at Mr. Mesero. The kitchen offers four options, including one topped with a rich and decadent mole sauce.

Amid it all is the always-dapper Rodriguez, offering a handshake here and a fresh bowl of salsa there. Welcome back, Mico. Your hospitality and delicious food have been missed.

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