Any time a longtime favorite restaurant opts to change things, whether the menu, décor, drink selection—or maybe all of it—you'd better hope those in charge of the restaurant are aware that there could be backlash. They could be right or wrong, but the point is: The customer is going to decide for him or herself whether to keep coming.
And so, we introduce you to the newest location of Los Tios off San Felipe. Nestled in a now-restaurant-heavy Tanglewood section of the city, the longtime Tex-Mex stalwart that opened Aug. 26 and is owned by Adair Concepts (Adair Kitchen, Skeeters Mesquite Grill) looks different than its sisters in Memorial, Meyerland, and Sugar Land, and on Westheimer. Whereas the others look more like rooms with brushes of Tex-Mex flair, the newest one strikes a dramatic and more thoroughly planned-out note with a menu to match its positioning as a potential lunch (and dinner) spot for the Uptown business crowd.
You'll note immediately the high ceilings and commanding 14-foot-plus wooden tower stocked with a large tequila selection and overlooking the bar. The bar—a horseshoe shape and accented by moss green tile—is calming yet still a noticeable centerpiece. Terracotta floors, star lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and an eclectic show of antiques peppered about the dining room combine to make this Los Tios something of a polished hacienda with a chill, garden-like oasis.
Then there's an enclosed patio room walled by windows that can scissor open when the weather is cooler. Inside on a Tuesday afternoon around noon, the room was packed with businesspeople, lunching ladies, and diners just jonesing for a margarita and puffy queso.
The menu at the new Los Tios has all the favorites, including the puffy queso, puffy tacos, and enchilada plates, but there's also more room for healthier and lighter fare. Consider their redfish on the half shell, served over a bed of squash, carrots, and mushrooms. There's also a Supermex Bowl (brown rice, kale, avocados, black beans, roasted corns, pico de gallo, pepitas, onions, cilantro lime dressing) that's inspired by Adair Kitchen's Superfoods Bowl.
Of course, Los Tios isn't the first established Tex-Mex chain to open a new location in Tanglewood this year. Ninfa's Uptown opened a few months ago and provides stout competition (though there has been an early shake-up there). "It'll be good to go up against the big guys," said Adair Concepts's co-owner Nick Adair, though he thinks there's room enough for two Tex-Mex restaurants in this part of town.
Judging by the crowds for a weekday lunch service, the future looks bright for Los Tios at San Felipe, and you may see some of the San Felipe style and menu changes come to the other locations. How the Adair team pulls that off will be the true test of the brand's might.