Tex-Mex has returned to Preston Hollow in a big way with restaurateur Jon Alexis’ Escondido, which officially opens Monday, Nov. 14.
I got a sneak peek at the experience and can say, with confidence, this place is going to be a huge hit.
Located at 5950 Royal Lane in the southwest corner previously occupied by Ruggeri’s, Escondido is announced with a splash of color and its one-story illuminated sign.
Jon Alexis, the owner of TJs Seafood, Malibu Poke, and other concepts under his Imperial Fizz partnerships, told me what he thinks makes Escondido different.
“Where other places have tried to elevate Tex-Mex, we are simply trying to present classic Tex-Mex with every detail executed perfectly,” Alexis said.
Examples? Escondido hand rolls every enchilada to order, made with fresh tortillas brought in every morning from La Norteña. They invested heavily in equipment such as a machine that keeps their chips perfectly warm.
And the drinks?
All tequila-based drinks, including the $6 happy hour house margaritas are made with 100% blue agave and freshly squeezed citrus. Escondido’s cocktail menu features 12 varieties of margaritas, both frozen and on the rocks, seven Mexican-inspired cocktails, and select Mexican beers on draft and bottled. It also serves wine from a small but curated wine menu. Gallons of margaritas are also available to go.
In addition to Tex-Mex classics such as tacos, enchiladas, and chile rellenos, you will also find creative dishes such as elotes fritters, Tex-Mex pizza, and papas bravas.
All seafood comes from TJs and is super fresh and high quality. I tried the spiced salmon taco, an item I’ve not seen on a local menu before, and it had excellent flavor and texture. Other items on the menu that really stand out are huevos rancheros, which are not just for breakfast, and shrimp, chicken, steak, and portobello ancho butter fajitas.
Perhaps most importantly, the queso is positively glorious and is made with a perfect blend of yellow and blanco cheese and can be served as it is, with roasted poblano and pico or as my friend and I ordered, with brisket, guacamole, salsa verde, and pico mixed in. This queso will be a strong contender for Best Queso next year.
The salsa is on the mild side, tomatoey, smooth, and well balanced; there is no one flavor or aromatic such as onion or garlic that overwhelms the taste.
Escondido is the restaurant Preston Hollow has been missing for a long time. The interiors are nicely finished but not over-the-top decorated, and the patio seats 75, making it the largest and nicest patio in Preston Hollow. There is even a cute little walk-up window to get Escondido to go.
When I visited Monday night, Jon was in constant motion, seating guests, running food, bar backing, and making table visits. He was supported by guests who are long-time friends and fans of Jon and his restaurants, including The Monarch’s chef Eric Dreyer and his family, Margaret Stafford, and Jon’s brother Matt, also known as Cubby.
As Jon put it, “We are always focused on providing our diners with high-quality, delicious food along with warm hospitality. Escondido will do just that. TJ’s has served Preston Royal and Preston Hollow since 1989. We have long-standing relationships with so many neighbors. We look forward to creating so many new relationships at Escondido and providing a neighborhood destination for any night of the week.”
Escondido’s grand opening will be Monday, Nov.14, for dinner only. Lunch and brunch will come later. You can make reservations on Resy or just walk in but expect to wait a bit. This place is going to be a hot spot.