When he visited, he liked the back patio, which housed a miniature amphitheater suitable, for example, for acoustic guitarists and flamenco dancers. Behind the stage, and a director’s chair marked “MICO,” hangs a projection screen where he plans to display digital art during the dinner shift. After a pause, Rodriguez agrees that he’s as much an artist and creative as he is a businessman.
“But isn’t that culinary art?” And, even better, it’s the art that everyone loves,” he says.
Guests at Doce Mesas include families with children, heaps of couples, dedicated Mi Cocina devotees, and medical staff from nearby hospitals and medical practices, he says. There was a “tremendous response” there, he says.
“Even before we launched, people were anxiously asking ‘when are you going to open?’” It’s the perfect location, straddling three Dallas neighborhoods – Lake Highlands, Preston Hollow and East Dallas, he says. “It feels like home,” he says. “Do you know what I mean by house? Comfort. Home is one of my favorite words and one of the best feelings.
Its staff with unique abilities are to be thanked for that, he says. And he’s on the floor almost every shift, using his keen sense of hospitality to second-guess the needs of diners. Stellar service is a priority. Rodriguez says our neighborhood has become a gathering place where you go out to eat “and you know you’re going to see everyone, your friends, people you know.” People stick around for dinner these days, he points out. They don’t want to drive.
Rodriguez has a rich history in the Dallas restaurant environment, having built a veritable Tex-Mex empire from his small 12-table restaurant in the 90s, assuming a central role with the MCrowd restaurant group and establishing various restaurants across our city and its suburbs.
After leaving the organization he was previously associated with, Rodriguez says he spent some time alone and started imagining this warm, lively space. He was unsure at the time what would happen to these ideas.
“For two years, I assembled images and colors,” he says. “I just didn’t know what I would do with it.”
The result was a 120-seat, “intimate and upscale yet approachable” (as he puts it) venue with “a coastal California vibe,” a “breezy indoor-outdoor flow,” and a robust menu featuring fresh ceviche filled of fresh products. fatty gulf shrimp, charred chili relleno with cheddary, fried chicken thigh on challah or a crispy salad topped with grilled meat.
Rather than having just one chef design the menu, it was a collaborative effort, he says. And he’s not necessarily a fan of everything there.
“Even if I don’t like it, if the customers like it, then I’ll serve it,” he says.
The menu also has a serious selection of tequila drinks, refreshing frozen cocktails, wine, beer, and desserts such as pastel de leche and classic flan.
“Doce Mesas is a return to Mico’s roots,” according to Restaurant Literature, which goes so far as to note that “this is his best restaurant yet.”