When Monitos Mexican Grill & Cantina owners David and Velinda Hertwig bought the former Molcas Mexican Restaurant, they said they knew the recipes would not have to be completely revamped. After all, Velinda said, Molcas had enjoyed a decade of success.
“I saw the potential of the restaurant. It was a neighborhood restaurant with established clientele. And the food was good—that is why we liked it,” Velinda said.
The Hertwigs decided that everything else in the restaurant, however, needed a major face-lift. One year after opening Monitos, the Hertwigs changed the eatery from top to bottom with new tabletops, floors, a renovated bar, new plates and silverware, and even a restored ceiling.
The restaurateurs also ramped up the quality of the ingredients used in the classic recipes.
David said Monitos’ head chef, who has worked at Molcas for the past decade, handcrafts the restaurant’s dishes fresh from scratch every day.
Customers return for the restaurant’s signature “Austin’s best” enchiladas, the Hertwigs said. The menu offers a half-dozen variations of enchiladas for diners, including enchiladas bandera, which feature enchiladas covered in red, white and green sauce to emulate the Mexican flag.
Velinda calls the restaurant’s menu “Mex-Tex” because of its deep roots in Mexican cuisine, such as the restaurant’s enchiladas in mole sauce.
“It’s more Mexican than Texan,” Velinda said. “We try and keep it traditional. We don’t try to compete with any of the new trends.”
The Hertwigs say the menu’s consistency and freshness help Monitos retain its base, but the couple credits the neighborhood’s loyal customers with helping to keep the restaurant afloat during the transition.
“We had the vision of this being a cozy, neighborhood, inviting atmosphere here,” David said. “Our customers have been wonderful.”
Monitos Mexican Grill & Cantina
8127 Mesa Drive, Ste. B200, Austin
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.