The Mexican was the sort of opening that couldn’t possibly go unnoticed.
With 15,000 square feet, head-turning design details, a Tequila sommelier, and a promise to deliver a Mexican fine-dining experience, how could it not? At four months old, the stunning see-or-be-seen restaurant is one of the hardest reservations to nab. Been yearning to go? You’re in the right spot.
You’re reading The One Who Keeps The Book, our regular series that aims to answer the most important of questions: How do I get in? The first answer is Resy, of course. But every restaurant manages its tables differently and there are always tips, tricks, and shortcuts to be discovered. So here, we go straight to the source to get them for you.
In The Mexican’s case, that’d be vice director of operations Nic Villarreal, an industry vet who’s been with Reach Hospitality for two years. Here, he reveals the best tables to book, the must-order desserts, and how to snag a seat at this Design District hot spot.
Resy: When do reservations drop on Resy?
Nic Villarreal: 30 days out at noon.
How many seats are there?
250 right now. I don’t have the full 375 — the patios and the cigar lounge aren’t open yet. I also have three private dining rooms: The Las Flores room (which holds 48 to 50 people), the Oaxaca room (which holds 14), and the Don Roberto room (which holds eight).
How quickly do the prime-time tables tend to get booked out?
Very quickly, we book out almost 30 days in advance. I have a lot of regulars that I really want to take care of, so I typically hold one or two four-tops or six-tops for them. That’s just the way we operate for some of our people who’ve been here since day one and come in like clockwork on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night.
Your Cheat Sheet to The Mexican
Plan Ahead: Resys drop 30 days in advance every day at noon.
Walk On In: There are a total of 30 seats available for walk-ins — 20 at the bar and 10 at the nearby cocktail tables. Show up before 6 p.m. if you want to be seated promptly! (The bar opens at 4 p.m.)
The Layout: Spread across 15,000 square feet, the dining space is huge. The Polanco room (the main dining room) seats 250 alone. The soon-to-open patios and cigar lounge will add another 125 seat, and there are three private dining rooms.
Prime Time: The busiest times are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.
Must-Orders: The lobster and chicken enchiladas, chicharrón de rib eye, Black Angus tacos, aguachile de rib eye, hamachi sashimi, cowboy rib eye, sea bass regio, campechana, and cuatro leches.
Pro Tip: Ask someone at the restaurant for a tour — the beautifully designed space deserves a proper walk-through. (Perhaps for a post-meal digestive walk?)
Are any of the seats held for walk-ins?
We do have walk-in seats at the bar, it’s first come, first served and we serve the full menu. The bar is very popular and it also has cocktail dining tables — I have three of them set aside for walk-ins.
So, what’s the best time for a walk-in to come by and get seated promptly at the bar?
Before six o’clock. We open the bar at 4 p.m. and we are nearly at capacity by 5:30 p.m.
What are your busiest days and prime-time hours?
Thursday through Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, our prime times start at 7 and end at about 8:45 p.m.
How many covers do you do on your busiest nights?
What about your least busy nights? Are there certain days or times when there’s a better chance to score a prime-time reservation?
The best time to snag something is relatively early on Monday and Tuesday, from 5:30 to about 6:15 p.m. We purposely do not open on Sundays so we can give the staff and teams a full day off together, should they want to celebrate something.
You mentioned that you have three private dining rooms. You can’t book those on Resy, can you?
No, those will go through our website. Our event coordinator will get back to you within 24 hours and start setting that up.
So, what’s the largest party size you accept on Resy?
The largest we accept on Resy is six. Anything over six, you’ll have to call in for a reservation. We have tables that will seat eight and 14, like the Tequila table, which we can reserve out without any minimums to be met.
Are there any other ways to snag a table?
Resy, a phone call in, and becoming a regular.
How does one become a regular?
If we see their face once and they’ve come back, they’re a regular to me. Doesn’t mean they come in every week. But getting to know the general manager or our managers: as soon as they shake your hand once, you’re part of the family.
What’s the best seat in the house, in your opinion?
In the Polanco room, our main dining room, we have table 102, which is a semi-circular booth with chairs at the end. You kind of get this cove feeling to it, yet you’re very much in the midst of things. [Pro tip: You can request this table when booking on Resy! Make sure to type in the request in your reservation guest notes.]
The Milagro table is in the center of the Polanco room, holds nine guests, and it’s got a built-in Lazy Susan made out of marble. A lot of our families and business friends will come in and order family style. And the Tequila table is one sexy live edge table that’s about 11 feet long and three feet wide — it’s real comfortable. But the cool thing is it’s located within the bar, so if a guest is looking to celebrate something — we get a lot of bachelorettes or rehearsal dinners — it’s still part of that vibe.
It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. Can you set the scene for us?
As you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice something very different: the attention to detail by our designer and wood craftsmen. As you walk through the Polanco room, which is decked with beautiful French oak herringbone floors and handmade Mexican tiles, you’ll see subdued colors of beautiful blues, light greens, and grays that give the guests a sense of warmth. You get this beautiful feeling of being in a very large room, yet still feeling comfortable and cozy within it. The vibe is energetic, without being overbearing.
What’s the playlist like?
It’s modern Mexican music spun by a DJ we have, DJ Mike. He spins for us every night from six o’clock to close. He utilizes classic Mexican music with a modern vibe. It’s a stunning homage to our Mexican roots.
What are the dishes first-timers absolutely have to order?
I would absolutely have to order the Langosta, our Maine lobster enchiladas. The suizas de pollo enchiladas are tremendous, too. And the Black Angus tacos, which are tenderloin with crisped Oaxaca cheese on these beautiful handmade black tortillas. The flavors just pop.
As far as appetizers go, the aguachile de rib eye is one of our number-one sellers, and our chicharrón de rib eye is a gorgeous, freshly made guacamole with crispy American Wagyu rib eye cubes, served in these custom-made lava rock molcajetes that we source out of the state of Puebla.
In our raw bar, I think everybody should have our sea bass ceviche and the hamachi sashimi — we get the fish fresh every day, and nicely and thinly slice it with a wonderful citrus truffle oil.
If I want a steak, the cowboy rib eye is tremendous — I think our steaks rival anybody’s. The sea bass regio is a gorgeous Chilean sea bass fillet with a wonderful zarandeado sauce, which is a very traditional northern Mexican preparation.
Do you have a favorite dessert on the menu?
The campechana and the cuatro leches. My pastry chef comes in every morning and makes these beautiful oval-shaped Mexican campechana pastries. They get layered in between ice cream and pistachios, and then get topped with a beautiful cajeta, which is a goat milk caramel that gives them a beautiful tang. The cuatro leches is a very traditional Mexican wet cake. It gets topped with a rompope sauce that is rum- and cream-based, fresh fruit, and of course, whipped cream.
What’s your favorite time of day at The Mexican?
When every table is filled. I love when people are talking to each other and know that we’ve done a great job when our guests are allowed to focus on what they came for. I should be able to provide a canvas on which they may paint their own memories of their time spent with loved ones. And I so look forward to my pre-shift lineup meetings with my staff, as well.
Any other tips or ticks for making the most out of a night at the Mexican?
Yes, definitely ask one of the managers for a tour. It’s a big restaurant and the architecture is so detailed, I even have to stop at the ladies’ room and show off the architecture there.
Anything else you’re excited about or would like to share?
I love the fact that we have a Tequila sommelier. We’re increasing the number of mezcals that we have on our menu and we are we are nearly doubling our wine list as well. We’re adding 21 Mexican wines from the wine country of Guadelupe Valle in Baja California, Mexico, and they are just outstanding. They are rivaling some of the best Napa wines I’ve tasted. Not taking anything away from Napa, but wow! Mexico and that whole wine region is really starting to grow.
The Mexican is open Monday through Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. and until 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The bar is open from 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and until midnight Thursday through Sunday.