Smoking Hot Tex-Mex

Sizzling new Tex-Mex restaurant serves up opening date in Montrose

Sizzling new Tex-Mex restaurant serves up opening date in Montrose

Candente Tex-Mex fajitas platter
A feast platter with fajitas, quail, carnitas, and shrimp. Photo by Eric Sandler
Candente Tex-Mex beef nachos
Smoked pork ribs with chipotle barbecue sauce. Photo by Eric Sandler
Candente Tex-Mex interior
A look inside Candente. Photo by Eric Sandler
Candente Tex-Mex smoked pork ribs
Beef nachos. Photo by Eric Sandler
Candente Tex-Mex wood burning grill
The restaurant uses a wood-burning oven and grill. Photo by Eric Sandler
Candente Tex-Mex fajitas platter
Candente Tex-Mex beef nachos
Candente Tex-Mex interior
Candente Tex-Mex smoked pork ribs
Candente Tex-Mex wood burning grill

What had been a quiet year for new restaurant openings in Montrose has picked up considerably in the last few weeks courtesy of establishments like the newest version of One Fifth, European-influenced Rosie Cannonball, and tiki-inspired The Toasted Coconut. Add a smoking new Tex-Mex joint to the mix.

Candente, handcrafted Tex-Mex, a new restaurant from Sambrooks Management Company (1751 Sea & Bar, The Pit Room), will open Monday, September 16, the restaurant announced. Located in the former Cane Rosso space at 4306 Yoakum Blvd., SMC made a number of changes to create its new establishment, including relocating the front door to make it closer to the building's parking garage, moving the bar forward, and installing both a wood-burning grill and a wood-burning Josper oven — highly appropriate for a restaurant whose name translates to "burning" or "incandescent."

Diners will find new furniture both inside and on the massive covered patio. The interior also features a counter where diners can watch the cooks on the grill, custom copper tabletops, and an elaborate mural featuring Day of the Dead imagery.

Just as The Pit Room adds Tex-Mex flavors to traditional Texas barbecue, Candente owner Michael Sambrooks and culinary director Lyle Bento have incorporated smoked elements into some of the restaurant's dishes. For example, queso, nachos, and enchiladas all have the option of being served with smoked brisket. In addition, flautas come filled with smoked chicken, and a smoked pork ribs appetizer gets topped with ancho-chipotle barbecue sauce. Seafood options include a smoked campechana as well as grilled redfish on the half shell.

The wood-burning grill gets put to good use for fajitas, of course, which are available as USDA Prime skirt steak from Niman Ranch, chicken, shrimp, or portobello mushroom and peppers and are wrapped in housemade corn or flour tortillas. Beef lovers may want to consider splurging on Prime ribeye fajitas (also from Niman ranch), a twist on the filet fajitas found at other restaurants. That ribeye is also available as an entree topped with two cheese enchiladas. Decadent fajitas platters, served with quail, carnitas, bacon-wrapped shrimp brochette, and more, are available for groups.

Beverage director David Maness' cocktail menu centers around margaritas, which are made with Espolon tequila and freshly-squeezed juices. In addition to regular and premium (made with Espolan reposado and Grand Marnier) frozen margaritas, the bar also offers a frozen palomas and piña coladas. Other cocktails include classics like the Mai Tai, daiquiri, and mojito. During happy hour (Monday through Friday from 3-6 pm), margaritas, frozens, and classics are $3 off, which makes the house margarita $5.

Candente held an invite-only preview on September 9. Highlights from the meal included the pork ribs, the ribeye with enchiladas, and the pollo asado. Tacos birria de res, made with smoked and braised beef short rib and beef shank, proved to be the night's surprise hit. Cooking for a known audience in a mostly empty restaurant doesn't ensure the kitchen will operate at the same level with a full dining room on a busy Saturday night, but Candente definitely has potential to make a mark in the crowded field of local Tex-Mex restaurants.

The restaurant opens daily at 11 am. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am to 3 pm, with dinner until 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday.