First Look

First Look: Escondido Tex-Mex Patio Is Off and Running in Preston Hollow

The Mexican shrimp cocktail at Escondido.
The Mexican shrimp cocktail at Escondido. Nick Reynolds
Escondido means "hidden" in Spanish, but in this case, the secret is out already. We recently stopped by this new Preston Hollow Tex-Mex restaurant owned by John Alexis to get a first look.

Given that it was a work night, we thought we’d be able to sneak in at 5 p.m. before things got busy. So much for that. It was already crowded and lively, and the remaining tables were going fast.
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This new Preston Hollow spot is packed most nights.
Nick Reynolds
Alexis, who also owns Malibu Poke and TJ’s Seafood Market, saw an opportunity in the Preston Hollow neighborhood.

“We think backward," Alexis says. "We find a great space in a great neighborhood and think about how we can best serve all the people who live there. Preston Royal needed Tex-Mex. Not a chain, but a fun spot that could be a neighborhood vacation."

The space feels that way, too. There was weekend energy on a weeknight. Plus, a glorious outdoor patio — the largest in Preston Hollow — seats as many (75) as the dining room inside.
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Left: A Mezcal Mule with mezcal fresh fruit juices, a spiced ginger beer and Tajin. Right: the cucumber margarita.
Nick Reynolds
The jalapeño cucumber margarita ($13) on the rocks is a great start — refreshing but with a snap. All the margs are made with fresh lime juice and 100% blue agave. Escondido offers a dozen different margaritas, both on the rocks and frozen.

Our appetizer pick was the Mexican shrimp cocktail ($17): poached shrimp and avocado swimming in a bright citrus cocktail sauce. Most picturesque appetizer ever? It was up there. The patron next to us even asked if she could take a photo for her Instagram.

The attention to detail at Escondido is apparent. La Norteña tortillas are from scratch, every sauce is made in-house and the enchiladas are made-to-order. TJ’s Seafood Market sources all the seafood, and the brisket is slow-roasted for 24 hours. No shortcuts.
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Portabello and spinach tacos.
Nick Reynolds
For our main course, we went with the portobello and spinach tacos with pico ($15), served with rice that’s cooked all night long and refried beans made from scratch and dusted with queso fresco.

One word kept coming to mind at Escondido: fresh. From appearance to taste, everything is vivid thanks to the high quality of the ingredients.

We wrapped up with a post-dinner cocktail. A riff on the Moscow mule, the Mezcal mule ($16) has Ojo de Tigre Mezcal, lime, guava, pressed orange and spiced ginger beer seasoned with Tajin. It was excellent.

The menu is fairly deep, offering several different dips to go with the house thick-cut tortilla chips (try the queso perfecto: brisket, guac, pico and salsa verde), appetizers, soups, salads, enchiladas, tacos and ancho butter fajitas. The entrées include choices such as guajillo glazed shrimp and chile relleno (battered and fried poblano with Oaxaca cheese and salsa roja).

And we can’t sign off without giving the service a shoutout. From the host to our server, we were accommodated at an exceptional level. The service is just as much of a focus here as the food for Alexis.

“The most frequent compliments we receive are for our service. In a world where nobody seems to care about one another anymore, they can receive the old-school hospitality here that they remember,” Alexis says. “This is happy food. We just want to make people really happy.”

5950 Royal Lane, Suite A. Sunday – Thursday, 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.
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