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Controversial Dallas restaurateur Michael “Mico” Rodriguez took a break from the bustling Dallas food scene during the pandemic.
“I found out a lot about myself,” says Rodriguez, 64. “I realized I wanted to do another restaurant. It’s kind of like being a musical artist: I had another album in me.”
With a new white exterior on the building, it would be easy to forget that the new Doce Mesas restaurant at Walnut Hill and Central Expressway in Dallas was once a Red, Hot & Blue barbecue joint.
(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)
And so, on Aug. 1, 2022 at 5 p.m., Rodriguez opened Doce Mesas on Walnut Hill and Central Expressway in Dallas. It’s Rodriguez’s second Tex-Mex restaurant by that name.
Many Dallasites know Rodriguez from a lifetime in Dallas restaurants — and possibly, from his complicated past in and out of them. Rodriguez co-founded Mi Cocina in 1991 and his mother started Mia’s, a Tex-Mex staple. His history with “drugs, booze, food addiction, infidelity” and more is a piece of his past, as reported by The Dallas Morning News’ Cheryl Hall and exposed in a D cover story.
Rodriguez was eventually ousted from Mi Cocina and then removed as CEO from the parent company of Mesero. He still draws inspiration from the past, and he’s proud of his role shaping Dallas Tex-Mex. His restaurant Doce Mesas, established in 2018, is named for the Spanish phrase for “12 tables,” which describes the original Mi Cocina at Preston Road and Forest Lane.
It all comes back around.
Even though the restaurant is named for one of Michael “Mico” Rodriguez’s former restaurants that was small in size, this new Doce Mesas is a generous place, with room for several hundred people.
(Jason Janik / Special Contributor)
Rodriguez’s second Doce Mesas is markedly different from the first, on McKinney Avenue in Uptown Dallas. Instead of small and neighborhoody, this new restaurant seats 120 people in the main dining room and at least another 120 on the split-level patio with a generous outdoor stage. It has a ceviche bar in the back, created because of the popularity of the restaurant’s Chico’s Pacifico appetizer made of Gulf shrimp, serrano, tomato and avocado, cured with lime.
The white-walled restaurant has big pieces of art and a palm-tree mural in the bar painted by Rodriguez’s daughter Bianca Rodriguez, the company’s director of marketing and a graphic design student at the Art Institute of Dallas.
Doce Mesas takes the place of HQ Prime Beer Garden, a short-lived restaurant better known in its previous life as a Red, Hot & Blue.
“We’ve never been an off-the-highway restaurant,” Mico Rodriguez says. This restaurant will require a different approach, as customers may be commuters instead of neighbors, like at the original.
True to Rodriguez’s self-proclaimed “old-school” way of running a restaurant, Doce Mesas has no TVs, no blaring music.
“Romance is gone,” he says. He hopes his customers can put away their phones and take a break to eat the restaurant’s popular dishes like chicken adobo, carne asada and ceviche.
Still, he’s optimistic.
“It’s a very interesting time to be in the restaurant industry,” he says. “There’s never been better restaurants here in Dallas.”
Doce Mesas is at 9810 N. Central Expressway, Dallas. It opened Aug. 1, 2022. The original Doce Mesas remains, at 4444 McKinney Ave., Dallas.