Trece is two blocks from my Dallas place. I'm not a big fan of Mexican nor a big fan of atmosphere "see and bee seen places," so it had two strikes against it before I set foot inside the door. That being said, I actually found myself rather liking the place on my one visit. Granted, we were there rather late on a week night and the beautiful people were not out in abundance, thank God, but the guacamole was excellent, the appetizers were very good, and while my entre, (forget which one) wasn't the best thing I've ever put in my mouth, it was fairly original and quite edible. Service wasn't snooty at all. Quite friendly. My SO and I are at least 10 years older than their target audience and were not dressed in Dallas high fashion. We just wanted a quick, but good bite in the neighborhood when we drove into town before watching a Mavs west coast road game on the TV.
thanks scott for your comment re: the guacamole. every time someone says OH MY GOD you MUST get the tableside guacamole, i scratch my head, wondering what i'm missing. i think maybe people just like having the personal attention? but i am noticing that it's trending up lately. just saw it again, this time at luna de noche. (i always thought it was better to have your guacamole made ahead of time so the flavors can merge?)
to me, what trece has that other places don't have are the high-end mansion-bred SAUCES. their skewered chicken thing, for ex - it's good, it's great, nice vegs, tender chicken, etc - but what elevates it is the drizzled sauces. usually i don't care about pointless drizzles on the plate because usually they don't add anything. but i think the complexity and bright flavors in trece's sauces really stand out.
i don't mind paying a lot for their mixed drinks, because they use delicious fresh juices. but $13 for a shot of so-called 'frozen' tequila is ridiculous, no matter HOW cold they serve it.
I like Trece. I just don't like it as much as I'd *like* to like it.
Why not? I guess primarily because it's neither an authentic regional Mexican menu (which we're sadly lacking in Dallas), nor a particularly interesting fusion--like a lovechild of Bob's and Mia's. That may be a canny decision in the Dallas market. It's just uninspiring to me. Too many big proteins with staid or incongruous sides. Too many dishes that try to earn their price tags with costly ingredients, when a cheaper, more traditional ingredient would do (or even be better). Too many distracting embellishments.
Like I said, I do like the restaurant. They almost always do a great job with grilled meats. The salsas are good. (I don't get the fascination with their guacamole. It's not like they're using organic heirloom spiked purple avocados from the Bolivian rainforest. And you can get the same level of tableside showmanship at El Chico, if that's what you're after.) The decor's nice. Their sopa Azteca is one of my favorites in town. The waitstaff are friendly and (refreshingly) mostly Mexican-American. Though their prices are on the upper end of the "fair" range, I've never felt truly gouged (except with the desserts, which have always come up short).
But given the money, effort, and talent involved in putting the restaurant together, I just kind of wish they'd taken a different direction with the menu.
Hi Steven. My Trece recs are not as glowing at FlFoodie's, but I have only eaten there twice, and the first time was about two weeks after opening. The second was much more pleasant. Overall it's a fun atmosphere, but they do try and present an "exclusive" front that I just have a hard time taking seriously. The host/hostesses are always friendly, but definitely not warm...the kind that sort of sneer instead of really welcome you. Drinks are expensive IMO, and I know they're trying for a 'Dos Caminos" in Dallas thing, but we shouldn't have to pay NYC prices. Same with the guacamole-delicious, a must-order, but expensive all the same. On my last visit we all enjoyed the trio of salsas, the guacamole and the lobster nachos. I made the mistake of ordering the caesear salad as my entree, and it was loaded with dressing and just bland overall. The only good part about it was the chili popcorn on top. Ugh. The first time I ate there I tried the pollo a la parilla, and the chicken was slimy and unedible. My friend ordered a shrimp dish that was much better.
On the other hand, I do think you'll have fun there, especially with a big group, and the space itself is really beautiful. As far as hotspots go, it's close to the top right now, so there's an excitement in the air as well that always makes for an interesting evening. Let us know what you think!
Piegirl & Steven-
I second the expensive drinks! Sorry I forgot that part, be careful. I have walked out of there spending more on alcohol than I did on food. On the other hand the do have a good wine list with some reasonably priced decent wines so that might be a good route to go with a group.
Trece is one of my top places to eat. Food is great, although the bar can get pack and things can get loud. Are you doing a set menu? The tableside guacamole is to die for and they will customize the spiciness for you. And you must try the warm salsa. Other good appitizers are the lobster/mango margarita, served cold with chunks of lobster and mango in a margarita glass, the lobster crepe, melt in your mouth lobter with spinach and cheese wrapped in a soft crepe. The crab cake is also good but I am not the biggest fan of the pastry the put it on top of. The gazapacho with crabmeat is my favorite, but when I was there last week they told me they were going to be taking it off the menu for the winter.
As far as entrees go, all of the skewers are excellent, the do beef (filet mignon), shrimp and chicken. If you want to splurge, the lobster tail is always good. If you are looking to step out of the box a bit the Budin Azteca, similar to a Mexican lasagna, can be fun. And be sure to try the spinach side (it's got a kick to it) and the roasted corn on the cob.
For dessert, the raspberry, peach and banana crepe is delicious. Steer clear of the chocolate cakes though the tend to be a tad over cooked.
The service can be shaky but it is mainly right on target. Enjoy!