by Steven Doyle
A visit up north to the Shops at Legacy in Plano netted a delicious feast of Pan-Latin cuisine that starts in Mexico City and filters across Latin America hoisting flavors and techniques that bring on the big and the bold to our plates in North Texas. This concept comes from the same folks that perform dutiful farm-to-table service at Whiskey Cake with effortless charm and attention to detail, Mexican Sugar leads with the same ebullience and standards.
With a crack team of kitchen pros lead by chef-partner Eric Justice, Mexican Sugar offers some playful and also some very serious dishes.
“What we’re offering is a cleaner approach to Mexican food,” says Chef Justice, “Rather than Tex Mex, our cuisine is rooted in the cooking methods of Mexico City with inspirational elements from other South American countries.”
On the more playful side of the menu look to the Arepa, a griddled corn cake topped with ropa vieja, a tricked out slaw, cilantro crema. Served three to a plate, the starter should definitely be sampled. I like how the menu offers some very familiar flavors, but also suggests a bit of Latin education for the palate.
Another whimsical starter are the Grilled Padron Peppers. These are mesquite grilled spanish chiles, smoked salt, adobo citrus glaze. Think of them as the Latin version of shishito’s which have been so hot on the Dallas menus for the past few years. Like the shishito, padron peppers are mild with a delightful pepper flavor. But be cautioned that also like the shishito, one in about ten will make you tear up a bit.
Some other go to appetizers include a sturdy ceviche, hamachi tiradito, which is a Peruvian-style sashimi.
The choices of tortas such as ahogada, pork carnitas, black bean smear, pickled red onions, spicy tomato and chile broth make this a seriously delicious menu. A hamburguesa is offered which is made up of house ground chuck and skirt, chile bacon, roasted poblano, Oaxaca cheese and an avocado spread. The menu also offers a host of tacos tat are equally as interesting.
The star of the menu comes off the parrilla, a South American-style grill. A skirt steak, half chicken and bone-in chop are offered, but the pan roasted whole snapper is something that should not be missed, and definitely shared with a table of ravenous friends.
Mexican Sugar pays tribute to Latin spirits and cocktail culture with its innovative beverage program, led by Bar Manager Ivan Rimach. A central Tequila Library features over 130 bottles of the most acclaimed variations, as well as 35 mezcals, all discriminatingly selected and beautifully displayed among the dimly lit shelves. Premium cocktails and sangrias are prepared in small batches and poured through a tap system, ensuring the quality and consistency of each vibrant concoction.
Every libation has been carefully crafted to bring creativity and originality to every sip. In the Chicha Sour, chicha morada, an authentic Peruvian purple corn, is frozen into ice cubes and topped with pisco, lime and simple; while the Sangria Kit offers a playful cocktail experience for four, with red or white house sangria on tap, assorted fruit and sugar cane sticks.
In addition to the agave spirits, a menu of South American wines and beers has been carefully chosen to complement the cuisine. Guests can also experiment with sipping spirits from the Tequila Library’s extensive catalog.
“We want our guests to enter our doors and feel transported,” Justice adds, “This is a place to relax, be taken care of, and enjoy some of the most innovative dishes and cocktails this area of Dallas as seen in a long time.”
Mexican Sugar is located at 7501 Lone Star Drive in the Shops at Legacy in Plano.