The Big Vibe Group — the new restaurant company founded by Grant Cooper (after splitting with former business partner, chief Charles Clark), Josep Prats and Marc Cantu — reworked the building that once housed The Dunlavy by Flora, a Mexican restaurant. It debuted on March 1 and is located in Buffalo Bayou Park at 3422 Allen Parkway. The group is already planning a second restaurant, which has yet to be named, for this fall.
Three chefs are listed on the site: chef de cuisine Epifanio Rosas (formerly of Hugo’s and who was the opening chef at another Cooper restaurant, Gratify Neighborhood Bistro), Daniel Gonzalez (previously sous-chef at the Zaza hotel) and Reynaldo Quezada (who worked with Cooper’s former restaurant group, Clark Cooper Concepts, for many years at Coppa Osteria and Gratify Neighborhood Bistro). Enrique Flores is the Managing Director, and his relevant experience includes Carrabba’s, La Dolce Vita and, most recently, OTC, a company that operates restaurants at airports, including the George Bush Intercontinental.
According to a press release, the atmosphere is meant to evoke a “Mexican treehouse getaway,” while the menu takes inspiration from “small town Mexico with a Texas twist.” Corn tortillas are made on site and used for traditional manufacturing street tacos (shrimps, fish and al pastor) and tostadas (yellowfin tuna, seafood and pulpo combo). Salsas, moles and other sauces are also homemade.
Entrees include a selection of Oysters, both on the half shell at market prices and a baked version with epazote, garlic, morita butter and parmesan cheese for $24. There are also three different ceviches, ranging from $19 to $28 for the negro ceviche made with yellowtail, red onion, cucumber, avocado and Fresno peppers over squid ink, corn, pepper ash and lime.
Entrees range from $23 to $48. The latter is for Piece of beef rib with Red Mole, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Black Bean Tamal, Refried Beans and Spanish Rice. Other selections include green mole with either half an air-chilled chicken or vegetables with toasted pumpkin seeds and Chile Relleno; a traditional dish consisting of a poblano pepper stuffed with beef picadillo.
For drinking, there are, of course, margaritas — five different ones, including The Grant, named after co-owner Grant Cooper, and The Jacy, named after his wife. The rest of the cocktail menu is surprisingly broad, including a “traveller’s list” with concoctions such as Ku-Ku with blended whiskey, Montenegrin amaro, banana-cocoa flower and cocoa bitters inspired by the Tulum Treehouse, and the Gjeronimo! with tequila reposado, bound rye, Modelo Negra, demerara and Angostura bitters. Cocktail prices range from $13 to $22. For those who prefer to sip, Flora offers a wide range of artisanal mezcals.
Flora is open every day for lunch and dinner: 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. Customers can reserve online or by calling (713) 360-6477. There are plans to launch the weekend brunch this summer. Unlike its predecessor, The Dunlavy, Flora does not offer private events or dining.