It’s been a big year for chef Rico Torres, co-owner of Mixtli Progressive Mexican Culinaria, the San Antonio restaurant widely acclaimed for its creative take on indoor Mexican cuisine.
First, he gained national media exposure through an appearance in the inaugural episode of Taste the nation, a Hulu series hosted by Excellent chef‘s Padma Lakshmi which launched in June.
Then, weeks later, he and his business partner Diego Galicia revealed plans to move their restaurant from his current home in a converted boxcar to Olmos Park in a larger Southtown dig this fall.
The new location will not only feature a larger dining room, but an open kitchen and a full bar with a separate menu. Also on tap is an agave spirits cart that will circulate the restaurant, allowing patrons to select the alcohol of their choice and a salt to complete the experience.
Service to 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 shortly thereafter.
Mixtli will continue to rotate menus every 45 days, focusing on a different Mexican region with each iteration.
The Running caught up 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 has picked up through his in-depth study of Mexico’s rich and diverse regional cuisines .
Tell us how you got to this stage of your career.
I let my creativity and my obsessions take the wheel. Plus, 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 up. I have also surrounded myself with more talented and sometimes more motivated people than me.
What has been your favorite region of Mexico to highlight on your Mixtli menus?
Less than one region and more than one time and place. I am still fascinated by the story of the conquest of Mexico. It was a turning point 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 excited to share with Mixtli guests after the new spot opens?
I think we no longer just focus on the regions and are more excited to share the experiences of what we have learned and continue to discover. The special collections in the UTSA library have been a wonderful resource for continuing to research Mexican gastronomy. We are delighted to continue to share this story and the stories through our food.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic has passed?
I’m not sure the pandemic will ever really 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 hang out with their friends and have a healthy social life again.
Speaking of which, what’s your favorite food to prepare for your child?
Kingston loves charcuterie boards. This may be the easiest way to get him to try new things. However, now he’s insisting on duck prosciutto, honey and gorgonzola, cinnamon cashews – and please don’t try to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano for something 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 happen to those who wait.
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