First Look

First Look: An Italian Chef Sticks the Landing at Odelay Tex-Mex

Berkshire puerco con mole verde
Berkshire puerco con mole verde Angie Quebedeaux
Julian Barsotti, best known for running Italian fine dining establishments like Nonna, Carbone’s, Sprezza and Fachini, is now dipping his toes in the Tex-Mex arena. Odelay Tex-Mex opened recently near Lovers Lane and Inwood Road, in the spot that used to be Café Express. The word Odelay roughly translates into “What’s up?” and what is up is this hot new hacienda-style restaurant.

Our first attempt to try it was on a Saturday night at 6 p.m. thinking it was still early enough to at least grab a seat at the bar. There were no seats and the wait for a table was an hour and a half. So, we opted to return the next day as soon as they opened for lunch at 11 a.m. We were seated immediately, but within an hour the place was almost full.
click to enlarge Chips and salsa are all made in-house. - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX
Chips and salsa are all made in-house.
Angie Quebedeaux
The concept of Odelay started years ago, but the vision crystallized when Barsotti opened his delivery only “Ritas and Queso” during the pandemic and realized how great the concept was.

The menu is diverse and includes some of your favorite Tex-Mex combo classics like enchiladas, pan-fried tacos and tamales. It also ventures west and features some New Mexico staples like green chile pork stew with pozole. The house specialties include a Frito tamale pie, wagyu brisket tacos and Berkshire puerco con mole verde.

Odelay sources top-tier ingredients and makes most dishes from scratch. In-house ground meats are from Rosewood Ranches. Seafood comes from the Gulf area. And flour tortillas are made from scratch as seen through a glass window. The tortilla chips are homemade as well, and the complimentary salsa is fresh and has the perfect amount of kick but is not too hot.
click to enlarge "1989" tortilla soup and a cup of green chili pork stew. - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX
"1989" tortilla soup and a cup of green chili pork stew.
Angie Quebedeaux
We started with a cup of both types of soup; the “1989” tortilla soup and green chili pork stew ($8 for a cup each). It’s Tex-Mex versus New-Mex. The tortilla soup is tomato-based with grilled chicken, avocado, queso fresco and crema. It was spicy and flavorful but could have had more chicken in the serving. The pork stew was also flavorful with a good amount of pork and pozole but was milder than most.
click to enlarge Berkshire puerco con mole verde - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX
Berkshire puerco con mole verde
Angie Quebedeaux
For the main course, we opted for another appetizer, Chimichangitos ($13) and the puerco con mole verde ($16). The appetizer is just as described, deep-fried tortillas with chicken, black beans, Jack cheese and corn. There are four pieces per order, so it’s perfect to share between two people or a meal for one. The puerco con mole verde was tasty, but it did lack an anticipated heat. However, a few drops of Tapatio hot sauce did the job.
The enchiladas at other tables looked great as did the shrimp cocktail, naked chile rellenos (baked not fried) and tres quail (wrapped in bacon and stuffed with jalapeño). And believe it or not, they even offer a smash burger served with their house-ground wagyu blend, American cheese, minced red onions, green chiles, pickles, lettuce and a chipotle special sauce.

And no self-respecting Tex-Mex place would be complete if they didn’t offer chicken-fried steak ($19). At Odelay, they use pounded and fried rib-eye steak served with queso, black beans, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.

While the menu is great, they really focus on the full experience here, including the atmosphere. Large wooden arched doors at the entrance bring you into the hostess stand where there are two floor-to-ceiling walls with a variety of colorful La Catrina dolls.
click to enlarge It's a portal hole to Mia's at Odelay's. - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX
It's a portal hole to Mia's at Odelay's.
Angie Quebedeaux
Four hand-painted highly detailed murals run along the main arched wall of the restaurant. One noteworthy mural is a rendition of a picture taken in 1989 at Mia’s Tex-Mex of a meeting between Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson where it is said that Jerry offered Jimmy the job of head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

The restaurant is multi-level and there are several C-shaped booths in the main dining area. A large U-shaped bar seats 20 to 25 with a beautiful stained-glass window centerpiece filled with beautiful bottles of tequila and spirits. The bar program rightfully centers around tequila with a menu created by master sommelier Sergio Quijano. One of their most popular drinks is the Sangre De Cristo with mint syrup, muddled lemon, red wine reduction and dusted with a hibiscus. If you’re a tequila fan, the frozen Paloma is a fantastic choice.

In the next few weeks, they will open their 3,000-square-foot patio. It also has a southwestern vibe with string lights, lush greenery and Mexican décor that includes Spanish textiles and ceramic sculptures hanging throughout.

Food and drink prices are Odelay are moderate, and you can enjoy happy hour discounts on drinks Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. Service was great, and everyone seemed eager and ready to help.

Odelay, 5600 West Lovers Lane, Suite 109. Open for lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday - Sunday; Open for dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday - Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
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Angie Quebedeaux is a freelance food writer for the Observer. A "ragin' Cajun" from Lafayette, she's been in Dallas since 2002. She is an HR director by day and loves to “laissez les bon temps rouler.”