New Mexican Restaurant Opens in Former Dunlavy Space in Buffalo Bayou Park

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One of the city’s finest restaurants overlooking Buffalo Bayou has reopened as a restaurant specializing in artisanal Mexican dishes and cocktails made with tequila and mezcal.

Flora, located in the space that once housed the Dunlavy, quietly opened last week as a new venture from Big Vibe Group, the hotel group that operates Gratify and Coppa Osteria in Rice Village. This is Big Vibe’s first opening since the dissolution of Clark Cooper Concepts which formerly operated the Dunlavy. In February, Clark Cooper owners Charles Clark and Grant Cooper announced they were ending their 20-year partnership with Clark taking on Brasserie 19 and Cooper forming Big Vibe whose portfolio includes Gratify and Coppa Osteria in Rice Village as well than Flora.

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Described as a “Mexican treehouse getaway,” the restaurant sits at Buffalo Bayou Park, 3422 Allen Pkwy., in a chandelier-filled space that once made the Dunlavy a popular dining and special-events venue. Flora kept the dazzling crystal lamps and added plush upholstery, a new color palette, hand-selected artwork and pottery.

The menu is under the direction of three chefs, Epifanio Rosas, Daniel Gonzalez and Reynaldo Quezada, who specialize in Mexican dishes with an emphasis on a masa program with fresh corn tortillas prepared daily. Entrees include guacamole and fries, chorizo ​​queso served with fries, roasted garlic chickpeas, charred octopus, grilled oysters and nachos. Salads include nopales and Salad Flora (greens, beets, pancetta, Manchego with jalapeno basil dressing; soups include quinoa, lentils and chicken fideo. Raw sea bass offerings: red snapper ceviche, negro ceviche (series yellow with corn and squid ink), shrimp aguachile and Gratify ceviche (red snapper, shrimp and octopus with avocado, cucumber, radish and mango habanero. Larger plates and entrees include street tacos, tacos with shrimp and fish, tostadas (tuna, seafood and octopus), fajitas, carnitas, barbacoa, beef short ribs, roasted chicken abobado, chili relleno, green mole chicken, mole enchiladas and daily preparations of sea ​​food.

In addition to house margaritas, Flora’s cocktails include Seven Spanish Angels (mezcal, amaro, ginger and lime), Gjeronimo (tequila reposado, rye, sugar and bitters), The Escobar (tequila reposado, agave, chili and chocolate bitters ), El Pipino (silver tequila, cucumber, jalapeno agave and lime), Gratify Smash (tequila reposado, ginger syrup, lemon and basil) and Ginger Mezcalita (mezcal, poblano chili liqueur, ginger syrup and pineapple).

Flora is the first new concept under the Big Vibe umbrella, Cooper announced, along with business partners Josep Prats and Marc Cantu. Unlike the Dunlavy, the Flora does not offer private events or private dining. The restaurant is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Greg Morago writes about food for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Send him topical tips at [email protected] Listen to him on our BBQ State of Mind podcast to learn more about barbecue culture in Houston and Texas.

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