When I walked into Muchacho, the new Dallas Tex-Mex restaurant that chef Omar Flores opened in November, I wasn’t surprised by the “vaquero chic” interior, the lard-infused house-made flour tortillas, or the combo platters with moonscape-textured fried corn tortillas cradling beef picadillo plump with potatoes and onions. I expected fancy; the restaurant is in tony Preston Center, after all. What I did not expect to see were molotes on the menu. Molotes are not absolutely not Tex-Mex fare.
Small, oval-shaped fritters, molotes are a classic Mexican snack found across the country, including Hidalgo, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí, typically filled with meat and cheese, sometimes potato. At Muchacho, they’re described on the menu as empanadas, come three to an order, and are listed as an appetizer. The trio made of blue corn masa are filled with savory chorizo, mashed sweet potato, and a thin framing of queso Oaxaca. A quick drizzle of crema and a dash of crunchy sesame seeds finish the dish. They make for a promising, balanced, yet slightly messy start to a meal at the restaurant.
“They’re not Tex-Mex,” Flores says. “I wanted to have a couple of things on the menu that make you scratch your head. I wanted to expose people to a different form of empanada. They’re the perfect finger food. And they’re delicious.” Another dish that might surprise the ravenous Tex-Mex lover is the platter of pork belly tacos al pastor.
But back to the molotes. Flores and his business partner agreed they had to be on the menu. “My business partner is from Israel, where they have a similar dish called kibbeh, filled with ground beef and pine nuts. They said, ‘Man, this is incredible, and we have to put it on the menu,’” the chef recalls of the taste testing. As fantastic as they are, they’re not a best-seller, Flores says. “I think people don’t quite know what they are. They kind of have to be a recommendation from the server, but I’m going to stick to my guns for as long as I can.”
Preempt the server. Go for the molotes first.