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Restaurants / Openings

Reenergized Tex-Mex Icon Takes Over One of Houston’s Most Coveted Restaurant Spaces

Inside the Plans for a New Showcase Los Tios — When Old School Meets New Ways

BY // 02.12.19

Tanglewood’s tastiness factor is set to surge with the addition of a brand new Los Tios in one of the most coveted restaurant spaces in Houston. Adair Concepts’ latest Los Tios is set to be the fifth and largest outpost, a festive flagship taking over the old, 6,000-square-foot Ciao Bello space on San Felipe.

Expect an early spring opening for the new restaurant. Diners will get chile con queso, tortilla soup, tacos al carbon, chicken taquitos, cheese enchiladas and more — all the Tex-Mex classics Los Tios  has whipped up for the last 50-odd years, alongside some additions and an expanded tequila program.

After all, Los Tios claims to have introduced Space City’s first frozen margaritas in 1975. The Adair family purchased the Los Tios brand in 2000.

The Adair  restaurant family — the minds behind recently opened Betsy’s at Evelyn’s Park, a new upcoming restaurant in Wells Fargo Plaza, Adair Kitchen, Skeeter’s Mexican Grill and Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors — recognized the prime real estate Los Tios is taking over when they first opened Adair Kitchen six years ago.

“We’ve always known what an awesome restaurant spot that is,” Nick Adair tells PaperCity. “We’ve always had our eye on it. We’ve got Adair Kitchen right across the parking lot. We’ve gotten to know the area so well, the clientele so well.”

The Los Tios Tradition

Los Tios is something of an institution with decades under its belt. Nick Adair’s ready to preserve its originality but add some modern flair with the help of his partner in crime, his sister Katie Adair Barnhart.

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When it comes to the brand update, the Adairs aren’t reinventing the wheel, they’re just greasing it.

“It’s just a lot of people try to fake — I don’t know if fake is the right word — but fake ‘old school’ and ‘authentic.’ Los Tios just is that. It doesn’t have to fake it,” Nick Adair says. “It’s authenticity, it’s not bells and whistles.

“It means a lot to the community, the people that grew up in Houston. It’s a staple. We’re excited to keep that going and start the next chapter. It’s an opportunity for us to put our stamp on it.”

You could say the siblings have had some time to brainstorm. “This place means a lot to our family. We grew up eating there even before dad owned it,” Nick Adair says.

For nearly half a century, diners at the original Los Tios have been tackling plate after plate of traditional Tex-Mex dishes, from shrimp quesadillas to beef fajitas, Snapper Veracruz to ceviche. Many take on samplings for supper.

“Right now the heart of the menu are all our combo plates. Combos like No. 6, the famous plate — enchilada, taco and a puff queso. A mixture of all those old-school Tex-Mex items,” Nick Adair says.

They won’t touch the existing plates, but may well add more grilled items and fish dishes.

They’re upping the tequila offerings and adding in some new mixed drinks to keep up with the happy hour demands in the area thanks to the many office buildings. The Adairs also intend to honor Ciao Bello’s legacy with a comprehensive wine list. This new showcase Los Tios’ wine list will be much lengthier than any of the other locations’ offerings.

Architect Aaron Rambo, who designed Benjy’s and Local Foods’ looks, has been tapped to shape the new Los Tios’ interiors. Expect modernized Mexican, but in no way does that mean the boxy shapes ‘modern’ usually entails. Instead, it’ll be a fresh take on the existing Los Tios’ authentic vibes.

Nick Adair’s eager to show the community the new chapter of Los Tios and he’s got faith in the loyal following.

“People in Houston are passionate about Tex-Mex. It’s sort of like politics — it can be very polarizing,” he says. “Everyone has their sort of favorites and different opinions on what’s best.

“People are just passionate about Mexican food. It sparks a lot of conversations.”

This spring will show whether it’s all taco and no action — or a new start for an iconic tradition.

Home, chic home.

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