For Manager Rebecca Shallenberger and her fellow chefs, opening a restaurant had been a dream for years, Shallenberger said.
When the group worked together at Houston’s—a restaurant located in the Galleria area—they would talk about the possibility of one day opening a restaurant that would draw on a number of the chefs’ backgrounds in Mexico, she said. That dream became a reality last October when Mandi Cocina Mexicana opened in Tomball.
“So much of our menu [is]family recipes that [the chefs]grew up with and that they recreate in a more contemporary way,” Shallenberger said.
The restaurant has been open for less than a year, but Shallenberger said the restaurant has already started to find its place in the community. Being able to feed the community is what makes her happy, she said.
“We have service in our hearts, and we want to provide to our community,” she said. “It’s just the best when people come in with groups and laugh, eat and enjoy their time here. We want to be there for the community around us.”
A popular dish at Mandi Cocina Mexicana is the enmolada, which is a pulled-chicken enchilada covered in a Puebla-style mole—a dark sauce that uses a variety of ingredients to make, including chile and chocolate.
“[The mole] is very complex, yet delicious,” Shallenberger said. “And because of how centralized it is in Mexico, it’s hard to find good dark mole done well.”
Shallenberger said the way each dish looks is an important factor when it comes to the restaurant’s service.
“What makes us stand out is the authentic ingredients and our attention to detail,” she said. “The food is beautifully plated, and we’re proud of our presentation. A lot of Tex-Mex restaurants bring out this really yummy food, but the plate doesn’t look that great. Here we really make sure our food looks ready to eat.”
Shallenberger said the chefs have plans to keep expanding the menu, including obtaining a liquor license.
“I would love to open up another location one day, but right now my focus is right here,” Shallenberger said. “I want to make this place perfect before we expand.”
Mandi Cocina Mexicana
24179 Hwy. 249, Tomball
Hours: Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.
11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Mondays