Great Food in a Great Atmosphere — Paper City

Ask Fernando Padilla why he would open two namesake restaurants and he’ll credit Il Sorrento — the legendary, now-torn-down Italian establishment from Mario Messina, where Padilla spent 12 years as maître d’ then general manager. “It’s a simple formula that I learned from Messina,” he says. “Offer great food in a great atmosphere.” And does he ever.

Inside the second Fernando’s Mexican Cuisine, at the Travis Walk compound in Knox-Henderson (the first sits at Northwest Highway and Midway Road), you’ll find a clean, refined design. We love its slate tiles scaling the walls; all the contemporary art and sculpture from local artists; the airy feel and ample bar and lounge; even the exposed ductwork — all courtesy of interior designer (and Padilla’s wife) Anne Padilla. As for the eats, sample one of the classic Tex-Mex dishes from the first Fernando’s, such as the brisket tacos with jack cheese, grilled onions and molcajete sauce. Craving more of a Mexico City flavor? Order up the camarones Coyoacàn, a dish of jumbo shrimp stuffed with crabmeat. To wash it all down, summon a splash of tequila from the extensive (and we’d say exceptionally informative) tequila list, or ask for this low-cal libation: The Anita Margarita, with fresh squeezed lime juice, tequila and triple sec, named using the Spanish word for someone very special to Mr. Padilla (and his favorite interior designer): his wife, Anne.

– Lauren Mang, PaperCity