Owner of ARMANDOS Debuts New Tex-Mex Restaurant in Bellaire
Armando Palacios of Palacios Murphy Hospitality Group, which owns eponymous, 45-year-old ARMANDOS in River Oaks, as well as Lulu’s in both River Oaks and Round Top, is opening his second Mandito’s Tex-Mex at 5101 Bellaire on Thursday, April 13. The original Mandito’s is also in Round Top, and the restaurants share Palacios’ parents nickname for him as a child, which means “little Armando”.
The new Bellaire restaurant aims to serve “elevated” Tex-Mex and seats 165; a temperature-controlled patio seats 42. At the front, guests will see a San Antonio-made BE&SCO Wedge Press and oven that can make up to 900 tortillas an hour. Those are used for enchiladas and the “World-Famous Burrito Bowl” and come alongside fajita platters. Alongside these familiar dishes, Mandito’s is also catering to vegan, vegetarians and those who simply want to eat healthier with plant-based options. A few examples include Tex-Mex Kale Salad, Kale & Mushroom Tacos and Beyond Beef Crispy Tacos.
Every respectable Tex-Mex restaurant has margaritas, and that’s true of Mandito’s. Courtenay Greenleaf, who has an extensive background in agave spirits, created a program that includes not only a selection of mezcal, 18 tequilas and sotol, but also harder-to-find selections such as raicilla and bacanora. That means there’s plenty of variety for guests to play with if they opt for Mandito’s “Make It a Margarita” option, where they can select any of these spirits plus a glass rim of mesquite smoked salt, black lava salt, sal de gusano (agave worm salt, which is better than it sounds), hibiscus salt or Tajin. There’s also a new seasonal margarita every two months, and the initial one is The Bluebonnet, which should get a vibrant, blue-violet hue from butterfly pea flower-infused Agavales Tequila Blanco and is rounded out with lavender syrup and fresh lime juice.
A new digital waitlist service is exclusive to Mandito’s Bellaire location. A representative says that starting on April 13, there will be a “Join The Waitlist” button on the website. Enter your name and number, and you’ll get a text message back stating where you are in line. Mandito’s also offers catering and to-go, with the impressive claim of being able to have catering boxes that serve from 8 to 10 ready for pickup or headed out the door for delivery in only 15 to 20 minutes. The catering box offerings are traditional appetizer, fajita, enchilada, burrito and World-Famous Burrito Bowl. (If you put this to the test, let us know how it went.)
The Palacios family collaborated with New York-based architect Rocco DiLeo to create an interior enlivened with a bright color palette and disparate patterns to create a “old-meets-new-world” Tex-Mex vibe. The visuals include a ceiling adorned with turquoise straw light fixtures handmade in Mexico. The 16-seat bar is framed with antique wooden shutters, and walls are accented with custom prints made by graphic designer and artist Sarah Showmake. (Interior photos weren’t available at press time, but we hope to get some soon.)
“Our growth is focused on creating unforgettable guest experiences through genuine hospitality, amazing spaces, quality Tex-Mex cuisine, and an incredible beverage program,” said Alex Curley, Palacios Murphy’s Chief Operating Officer, via press release. Mandito’s Tex-Mex in Bellaire provides us the perfect opportunity to do that, and our team can’t wait to open the doors and welcome the community.”
Mandito’s Tex-Mex Bellaire’s hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday, it’s open one hour later — until 11 p.m.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.