It’s been a big year for chef Rico Torres, co-owner of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, the San Antonio restaurant widely hailed for its creativity in indoor Mexican cuisine.
First, he gained national media coverage through an appearance on the inaugural episode of taste the nationa Hulu series hosted by Excellent chef‘s Padma Lakshmi which launched in June.
Then, a few weeks later, he and his business partner Diego Galicia revealed plans to move their restaurant from its current home in a converted boxcar in Olmos Park to larger digs in Southtown this fall.
The new location will not only feature a larger dining room, but also an open kitchen and full bar with a separate menu. Also on tap, an agave-spirit cart will circulate through the restaurant, allowing patrons to select the spirit of their choice and a salt to complete the experience.
Service at the Olmos Park location will continue through September, and customers will be able to make reservations through its website. The new Mixtli, located at 812 South Alamo St., will open soon after.
Mixtli will continue to rotate menus every 45 days, focusing on a different Mexican region with each iteration.
The Running sat down with Torres last week to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated his business, where he sees his career heading, and what ingredients and techniques he’s picked up through his in-depth study of the rich and varied regional cuisines of the Mexico.
Tell us how you got to this stage in your career.
I let my creativity and my obsessions take the wheel. Also, I’m just not cut out to work for someone else, so my only options were to do it myself. I look for gratitude and lessons in every experience, and it has been an invaluable tool for growing. I also surrounded myself with people more talented and sometimes more motivated than me.
What has been your favorite region of Mexico to highlight in your Mixtli menus?
Less of a region and more of a time and place. I am always fascinated by the history of the conquest of Mexico. It was a pivotal moment in history that fundamentally changed the world. The stories from that time are incredible.
What do you think is the prevailing sentiment regarding expanding into a new space amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s going to be awesome!
Which regions are you most looking forward to sharing with Mixtli customers after the new spot opens?
I think we are no longer just focusing on regions and are more excited to share the experiences of what we have learned and continue to discover. The UTSA Library Special Collections have been a wonderful resource for continuing to research Mexican gastronomy. We are excited to continue sharing this story and the stories through our food.
What are you most looking forward to once the pandemic is over?
I’m not sure the pandemic will ever truly pass or the normalcy we remember will return. We are different people now. I miss hugs and concerts, and I can’t wait to see my sons spending time with their friends and having a healthy social life again.
Speaking of which, what is your favorite dish to make for your child?
Kingston loves charcuterie boards. This may be the easiest way to get him to try new things. However, now he insists on duck prosciutto, honey and gorgonzola, cinnamon cashews – and please don’t try to replace the Parmigiano Reggiano with anything else. He will know.
What is your favorite ingredient for cooking and why?
In my pantry, we always have maple syrup for our coffee and smoked peppers for our barbecue.
Do you have a favorite cooking technique? If so, what is it and why?
Slow and low. Good things come to those who wait.
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