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The Kirby restaurant revolution picks up steam: New Mexican place keeps hot openings streak going

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Pico's Kirby Exterior
The entrance has been relocated to face Kirby. Look for the fountain. Photo by: Eric Sandler
Pico's Mex Mex tasting February 2014
Braised duck two ways proved so popular it sold out.  Photo by Eric Sandler
Pico's Kirby Agave urn
A large urn in the center of the dining room holds an agave plant.  Photo by: Eric Sandler
News_soft shell crab_Pico's
Familiar favorites like these soft shell crab are still on the menu (once they're in season). Courtesy of The Epicurean Publicist
Pico's Kirby Exterior
Pico's Mex Mex tasting February 2014
Pico's Kirby Agave urn
News_soft shell crab_Pico's

Kirby isn't just getting a new destination for sandwiches. The Mexican food is about to get better, too.

Pico's Mex-Mex will open its new location on Kirby Drive Thursday in the former site of Ninfa's/Maggie Rita's. The 30-year old Mexican restaurant closed its original location on Bellaire after Saturday night's dinner service, but the facility will remain available for catering and banquets.

 The most striking aspect of the new space is how upscale it appears with white tablecloths over heavy wooden tables and wrought iron accents.  

The restaurant held a friends and family preview dinner Tuesday night that gave long-time customers their first look at the new space. With chef/owner Arnaldo Richards and his brother Alex expediting in the kitchen, Arnaldo's wife Janice supervising the dining room and daughter Monica directing the bar, everything appeared to run smoothly as the staff adjusted to the new space. 

Tables full of happy diners feasted on a mix of old favorites and new offerings, including a tenderloin smothered in black bean mole and osso buco. Duck two ways, which I tasted last month, sold out by the time I sat down with a group of friends for a meal. 

The most striking aspect of the new space is how upscale it appears with white tablecloths over heavy wooden tables and wrought iron accents. Located off to the side, the tequila room, unfinished during my previous visit, is now fully decorated with two cao de jima, the tool used to harvest agave plants, and a statue of Mexico City's famous Angel of Independence to watch over the room. In the main dining room, a large urn barely contains a massive agave plant. 

Further adding to upscale atmosphere is the new cocktail menu and wine list developed by Monica that gives diners the choice between premium tequilas and limited allocation vintages. Of course, both lists offer plenty of familiar favorites, too, but it's clear the family is trying to reach new customers with the more diverse array of offerings. 

Sipping a glass of tequila at the end of the night, Monica expressed admiration for the staff. They'd kept up with the influx of guests, knew which wines paired with which dishes and handled the larger space efficiently. 

They're ready. 

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