There are a handful of places I’ve visited where when I walked in, I “knew” the place was special. I didn’t have to wait for the drinks or engage with our server. I just “knew” it, and Mexican Sugar has officially fallen into that category.
Today we were looking for an early lunch spot before heading to the airport, and as we drove towards our usual digs, we made a slight detour and spotted Mexican Sugar. Although I’d heard this was the latest hot spot for the Shops at Legacy, I hadn’t yet taken the time to try it out. Fortunately for me, I had my husband with me, and he decided we should pop in since he hadn’t eaten there either. (yet another reason why I love this man)
The first thing we noticed when walking in was the bountiful bar where copious amounts of bright, fresh fruit were being prepped. Traditional Mexican-style pottery bowls were being filled with sliced strawberries, pineapple and lime. Behind the bar was a wall of tequila… and other liquor. Mexican Sugar boasts a Tequila Library with over 150 different types of tequila, and brother, they have reason to brag. Their tequila overfloweth, friends.
The design of this space is Mexican Dia de los Muertos meets chic ranch house with a touch of Texas and Lucha Libre – all of which I enjoy immensely. They have several casual seating areas that include a large leather couch, quirky lighting fixtures and a heavy ranch house table directly placed in front of contemporary gas fireplaces, giving it a very inviting feel. As I sat there soaking up the hot pink prints, leather seating, rustic wooden tables and lime green rugs, I couldn’t help but notice the large rooster plastered on the wall, overseeing the restaurant – his arrogant stare, daring me to order something. Being folks who rarely turn down a dare, we started our adventure at table 93.
Chris provided a brilliant tour of the menu and offered up some of his favorites right away. Up front, he mentioned this was not going to be a traditional Tex-Mex menu. He said we were going to be in for a combination of Latin flavors that brought a little more brightness and punch to the party. His knowledge of the ingredients and sincere enthusiasm behind the food created some excitement for us as we looked over our options. Between the upbeat music, cozy environment and in-depth introduction, we were raring to go and started off with Queso Blanco and Roasted Salsa.
Ummmmmm, put that queso in an IV drip and hook. me. up. This trio of Mexican cheeses with a touch of cilantro and guacamole was exactly what someone is looking for in a queso. And the roasted salsa?? I’m a sucker for a good roasted salsa – they were already one step ahead; I’ll give you that. But, when you serve it warm??? And, you can taste the char on the tomatoes and feel the warm spices dance on your tongue like Tito Puente himself was playing the bongos on your taste buds?? Get another IV and hook me up to that one, too.
We knew at this point we probably could have ordered cardboard off the menu and it would have been phenomenal; so, onward we moved into our lunch choices. My husband decided on the Spicy Habanero Chicken Tacos. Currently, you can’t find these on their website menus; however, Chris explained they were a new addition. Mexican Sugar was apparently looking for a dish with a spark of heat, and while I have to say my one bite I had of the chicken tacos didn’t necessarily blow my palate away with heat, it was rich in flavor and provided that warmth you would expect from a Habanero – just maybe not enough. They were very Cotija cheese-forward. The tangy cheese and sweet corn were the first punches followed up by the soft heat from the chicken.
What did help balance things out was the delightfully bright, citrus notes of the light and crunchy shredded brussel sprout salad served with the tacos. Together, the taco dish was very well seasoned and did provide balance – delicious – just not devilish as the name implies.
Chris suggested the Tacos de Carnitas with al pastor sauce for me, and who was I to argue? All tacos are wrapped in hand-pressed corn tortillas made in house, and that alone just brings a whole other level to the experience. The pork is slow-braised in a Guajillo chile spice mix for 12 hours (not making that up – we asked). And, pineapple is then charred, concentrating the sweetness with the caramelization. If that wasn’t enough, they add wonderfully tangy, crisp, refreshing green apples and jicama slaw and microgreen cilantro that packs a wallop to bring it all together. Those Tacos de Carnitas were tight! I even had to take a picture post first bite to demonstrate the amount of goodness hitting my taste buds one morsel at a time.
With tacos happily consumed, feeling toasty warm and cozy on the ridiculously comfortable leather couch, sipping on our hibiscus iced tea, we decided to do the unthinkable… order dessert. I mean, go big or go home, right??? Or is it don’t eat at home and get big??? Anyway.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m a bit of a tres leches aficionado… okay, I’m mostly just obsessed with tres leches cake, but I have had enough tres leches to correctly use the title of aficionado. So, what better way to expand my expertise (and likely my waistline) than enjoy whatever leches cake Mexican Sugar had to offer?!?
And, what an offer it was… Horchata 5 Leches… five different milks, unique to Mexican Sugar because I have never heard of anyone using the types of milk they use in a leches cake. They use almond milk, rice milk, heavy cream, Mexican crema whip and wait for it… REAL goat’s milk cajeta. Most leches cake bakers heat up condensed milk to create cajeta, a Mexican-style caramel, but the real deal is made from goat’s milk and has its very own unmistakably divine flavor profile. It’s rich, slightly tangy, incredibly sweet, smooth and creamy.
Enjoying this cake reminded me of the Mexican Obleas candy which are basically goat’s milk cajeta sandwiched between two discs that can only be described as communion discs you eat at Catholic church during Holy Communion – sorry, it’s true. And, you can Google it and see exactly what I’m talking about. Whatever the case, it’s a very happy memory of mine, and dog-gone-it, Mexican Sugar, you took me back to that very moment – a la Anton Ego dropping his pen when tasting the dish in Ratatouille!
Needless to say, this adventure was well-worth the accidental visit. I urge you, no implore you, to call up Mexican Sugar in Plano, check out their website, www.mexicansugarcocina.com, make a reservation or just pop in and enjoy the experience for yourself.
We just might see you there.