First Bite: Quiote is a Hidden Restaurant Paradise in Montrose
Behind a door and a wall covered in decorative leaves, The Toasted Coconut at 1617 Richmond Avenue is hiding a secret: Quiote, its speakeasy, à la carte restaurant. It initially debuted in 2020, but only stayed open for six weeks before shuttering due to the pandemic. The covert eatery reopened just as quietly last month and is ready to pick up where it left off. I paid a visit with my husband to check out the revival.
Our dinner started with a scallop crudo, a refreshing dish that combined tender pieces of scallop with bright and crunchy cubes of cucumber. The passion fruit-habanero broth underneath gave the right balance of sweetness and a gentle heat, while poppy seeds lent small bites of crunch to the dish. Well-balanced in taste and texture, this was a dish that woke up the senses for what’s to come.
A Sweet Potato Tostada was a sweet, smoky and nutty starter. Coal-roasted sweet potato was spread on top of a crisp tostada, then sprinkled with Texas feta, hoja santa, and a black bean crumble made with pepitas, sunflower and sesame seeds. This rustic dish was fun to break apart and eat with your hands. We felt like it could’ve used one more ingredient to add some zest, but otherwise it made for a satisfying bite.
The cocktail program also deserves plenty of praise, with well-balanced drinks primarily showcasing Mexican ingredients. I can’t resist a good pun — or a good Negroni riff— and Say Elote My Little Friend brilliantly scratches both of those itches. Made with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Nixta Elote Corn Liqueur and damiana (an herb derived from a shrub native to Mexico and South Texas), it’s spirit-forward with a roasted corn aroma and herbal notes from the damiana.
Another stunner was La Condesa, a martini riff made with Condesa gin, which is from a women-owned and -operated distillery in Mexico City. With brilliant floral qualities, the gin showcases botanicals used in traditional curandera (healer) rituals. Those notes were rounded out with a touch of brine made from pickled squash and onions.
My husband’s Cantarito was a bright, refreshing, fizzy cocktail made with reposado tequila, mezcal and fresh citrus juices. The finishing touch was a smoky-and-spicy salt coating one side of the olla that it’s served in. It paired perfectly with the smokiness of the mezcal and the tart fruit juices.
Head bartender Elena Vann was warm and had an encyclopedic knowledge of every drink she created, which made me wish they could be ordered at The Toasted Coconut if you couldn’t get a seat at Quiote. For now, to try these speakeasy-only cocktails, you’ll just have to be one of the lucky ones to snag a spot at this hidden restaurant.
As the sun goes down, the space takes on a darker and moodier ambience, feeling more like a candle-lit getaway than a restaurant. By this point, our Tuna Pastor arrived. The cold-smoked tuna was served on slices of charred pineapple and seasoned with dabs of negi dare, a Japanese green onion sauce. The pineapple was sliced paper thin, yet was firm enough to roll up the tuna and not break apart. Each bite was bursting with juices, bringing sweetness to the smoked tuna and the peppery green onion.
We ended our meal with pozole verde. A rich broth with tender pork slices that became a backdrop for a choose-your-own-adventure course. Served with a plate of accouterments, the comforting broth was spicy, smoky, and could be enhanced by adding texture from cabbage, slices of radish and green apple. A squeeze of lime juice added a contrasting brightness. Soft kernels of hominy were perfect for ladling up with the broth, whether with a spoon or with the accompanying tortilla chips.
After a few drinks, the pozole was a pre-hangover comfort soup and a perfect denouement to the evening. As our meal ended, a couple a few seats down got up to dance, clearly enjoying the experience of being swept into a secret culinary paradise.
Quiote is currently open Thursday through Sunday from 6 to 8:45 p.m. Reservations can be requested online, with a few seats held for walk-ins.
Disclosure: The writer occasionally creates social media content for The Toasted Coconut on a contract basis, but was not compensated or incentivized to write this article.
When she isn’t daydreaming about her next travel destination, Cindy likes to crochet, mix her own cocktails at home, and torment everyone with dad jokes that are so bad they’re good. Otherwise you’ll most likely find her getting cozy with a flat white or a glass of whiskey at a favorite local haunt!