Both father Beto and son Julian Rodarte have spent portions of their careers very much inside the restaurant box. After starting Cozymel's with Phil Romano, owner of Romano's Macaroni Grill and Fuddruckers, Beto worked for restaurant giant Brinker for years, doing what he could from the corporate level for other chains like Chili's and On The Border.
His son Julian worked as a corporate chef for Denny's after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America and has also spent time developing new items for brands like Pei Wei and Panera.
But now that they're running the show at their own spot, Beto & Son in Trinity Groves, they're making every effort to spread their wings with a menu as Instagrammable as it is boundary-defying.
The shattered expectations start as soon as you're greeted with your standard pre-meal chips and salsa — because in this case, the obligatory Mexican restaurant staple also comes with hummus that disappears from its ramekin a lot faster than the red stuff does. It's not as thick or as orange as the hummus we all eat at home, and Beto & Son doesn't try to kick it up with any undue heat, either. It's a simple change of pace that foreshadows many more to come.
Like fried eggs. Fried eggs on enchiladas, fried eggs in Mexican noodle bowls. Yes, the fried egg is more than just breakfast, and even more than just a heart-stopping burger topping. On the green chile pork or the 12-hour barbacoa enchiladas, the fried egg topper may catch you off guard, but Beto & Son is not about that red sauce on cheese enchiladas. That's a little too Gen X for the duo who've tagged their joint venture "Next generation Mexican food."
You may well expect an egg on top of a noodle bowl, but a noodle bowl at a Mexican joint? Well, Beto is of one mind on that issue, since he grew up on a farm in Durango, Mexico, a Western state where fideo, often referred to as Mexican spaghetti, is common fare.
Beto & Son's adaptation is anything but commonplace, though. It's one of the more colorful Mexican food experiences in town, with bright green calabacitas (zucchini), pink pickled onions and queso fresco crumbles dotting the meaty medium and fideo noodle base, while a chile de arbol glaze zigzags across the fried egg topper.
The atmosphere at Beto & Son will have its proponents and its detractors. It's a sufficiently lit open dining room with all tables and no booths, while the volume of the Spanish Top 40 hits is just a couple notches too high for getting in any intimate dinnertime conversation.
The patio will be a draw when we get another unseasonal dose of 75-degree winter weather, with picnic-style seating under the cover of an overhang and big red wooden four-tops under the live oaks, which will require another couple years' growth to provide any real shade.
But before you go, dessert is in order. This isn't heavy, sleep-inducing Tex-Mex, after all. And after spending all evening outside of the box, Beto & Son's flan beckons you back to earth.
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Earth is where your car is parked, so it's probably a decent idea. Beto & Son's flan is thicker and less spongy than expected, almost to the point of an ice cream-like texture. It rests on the simple but hearty foundation of a thin layer of chocolate cake, and whoever complained about a caramel stripe drizzle or a dollop of whipped cream?
Not you. Not after eating a Mexican dinner that came complete with hummus, and with a fried egg on top of everything.
Beto & Son, 3011 Gulden Lane