Unless you’ve made the drive out to Round Top, you might not know that Cinda and Armando Palacios’s iconic Tex-Mex restaurant Armandos, which debuted in River Oaks back in 1978, has a little sister out there. Mandito’s, “little Armando” in Spanish, an affectionate childhood nickname used by Armando’s parents, opened in the haute but pipsqueak town (population 90) back in 2017, where it holds court alongside other Round Top–located Palacios Murphy businesses Lulu’s, Popi Burger, and Hotel Lulu. The hospitality group recently announced that in early 2023, the casual Tex-Mex eatery will get a new twin sister located a little closer to home in Houston’s storied Bellaire neighborhood.
This will be the second time Palacios Murphy has opened an additional location of one of its Round Top concepts in Houston, the first being the River Oaks location of elevated Italian restaurant Lulu’s, which opened last fall in the same strip center that houses Armandos. The new location of Mandito’s promises to be just as charming as the original and will be housed in a 165-seat space at 5101 Bellaire Blvd that includes a 45-seat, climate-controlled patio space.
“The opportunity to bring Mandito’s to Bellaire and surrounding communities proved to be one that aligned with our goal to elevate the Tex-Mex experience,” said Alex Curley, Palacios Murphy’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful to have amassed a team of top tier talent from around the country with the goal of placing guests first and building on the legacy of our flagship restaurant, Armandos.”
When it comes to food, the casual, cantina-style spot will deliver a host of Tex-Mex staples, as well as some new surprise dishes and flavors, through a menu that will span everything from enchiladas, flautas, and burritos to sizzling fajitas, ceviche, and a signature burrito bowl that you’ll most assuredly be coming back for. The restaurant will also be home to a state-of-the-art BE&SCO press and oven, often referred to as the Ferrari of tortilla machines, that will be able to churn out 900 tortillas an hour—which, we must note, is just enough tortillas to have Houstonia’s staff feeling half-full.
But admit it, you mainly come to Tex-Mex restaurants for the drinks, right? Guests of Mandito’s will be able to quench their thirst through the restaurant’s reimagined bar program, which will offer a variety of high-end and classic margaritas as well as a host of original cocktails. And yes, some of those margaritas will come frozen, as they should. What won’t come frozen? The warm and storied story about Houston Tex-Mex that Palacios Murphy hopes to tell through Mandito’s.
“We believe food is one of the most important ways to tell a story, and Tex-Mex has a lot to say,” said Cinda Palacios in a statement. “For over 50 years, the stories of Tex-Mex cuisine have been largely disregarded—much like the people who have made the food iconic—and we want to preserve those stories and tell them to the world. Bringing Mandito’s to Bellaire is one further step toward achieving that ambitious goal. We look forward to the community taking this journey with us and cannot wait to debut early next year.”