"Moderno is our way of paying tribute to the border town cantinas and restaurants of years past. The original El Restaurante Moderno was a legendary cantina located in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas," says Moore. "It was in existence 91 years before closing its doors in 2010, a victim of Mexico's raging drug wars. Back in the day, we would travel to Eagle Pass and cross the border to shop for Mexican knickknacks and enjoy a taste of Mexico. Modernos, as it was called by the locals, was our go-to place for great margaritas and Mexican food." In its prime, the Mexican restaurant served generations of luminaries and film stars including John Wayne, who dined there regularly in 1960 while filming The Alamo. It is also where Nacho Anaya invented his "specialty" known as the nacho.
Houston's modern day Moderno features salvaged/repurposed wood walls, traditional Mexican encaustic tiles, distressed pine tables with festive splashes of turquoise and yellow. Bottle walls that repurpose wine and spirit vessels were created as textural and unique light reflecting room dividers. Lights strung through the center of the room evoke a casual hacienda patio. Oscar, a trophy Elk that is prominently displayed against the restaurant's back wall, is named after Houstonian Oscar Wyatt, who gifted the trophy to Moore's parents 35 years ago.
Moderno's opening menu, which continues to evolve, currently features 80 percent traditional Tex-Mex and street taco fare, along with 20 percent fusion-style tacos. There will be a featured taco special introduced each week. The restaurant operates a counter service breakfast and lunch during weekdays, along with table service at dinner. On weekends, brunch is counter service and dinner is table service.
On the beverage side of the menu, Moderno carries more than 50 tequila labels and specializes in fresh juice margaritas. Additionally, the restaurant serves craft beers, wine (not your standard Tex-Mex wine list, according to Moore), sangria, micheladas and other cocktails, along with local coffee, tea, fresh lemonade and sodas.
"At Moderno, we're not trying to reinvent Tex-Mex, but simply aim to serve fantastic food and great beverages in a casual and contemporary cantina," says Moore. "We look forward to becoming a favorite neighborhood haunt and, like our namesake El Restaurante Moderno, sticking around at least 90 years."
The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. For more information visit www.motacos.com or follow Moderno Tacos + Tex Mex on Facebook at www.facebook.com/