Fernando’s isn’t a hideaway, but it might be hard to find. Although the address is on Northwest Highway, the restaurant fronts the cross street, Midway Road. Owner Fernando Padilla brings a touch of Mexico City to traditional Tex-Mex, and his chic interior is a good fit for the upscale North Dallas neighborhood. After being out of the restaurant business for a decade, Mr. Padilla opened his own place. He had been a maitre d’ and general manager at Mario Messina’s Il Sorrento.
The interior is contemporary and sleek with bold modern art on the gray walls and a shiny, urban bistro-style bar. That sets the tone for the cuisine, which runs from continental à la Mexico City to taqueria. A short but well-selected wine list with several South American reds and whites, as well as a quality list of tequilas (silver, reposada, añejo and ultrapremium), further elevates Fernando’s.
Dinner offers steak specialties with continental-French touches that characterize time-honored Mexico City dishes. Filet San Angel, grilled beef tenderloin with mushrooms, shallots and chiles in a port wine sauce, is emblematic. The meat was pink and tender. Make no mistake, these dishes are rich. None more than shrimp Coyoacàn, a generous serving of big shrimp made even bigger with crabmeat stuffing and a white wine sauce.
There are regional dishes, too, such as pork medallions with a mild sauce of cascabel chiles. Flour tortillas, Mexican rice and beans are the customary sides. Midday, Fernando’s offers traditional plate lunches and a variety of tacos. No. 8, with a tamale, an enchilada, rice and beans, answers an urgent Tex-Mex craving. Don’t miss brisket tacos, served with soft corn tortillas, guacamole and pico de gallo. For a sampler, consider the Cuernavaca appetizer plate with fajita quesadillas, fried stuffed jalapeños, chicken flautas, nachos with beans and cheese, and guacamole. That’s a nice cross section.
Servers hop to it with almost military bearing. Yet they’re friendly and willing to explain menu items. For dessert, sopaipillas, pillows of dough hot out of the deep fryer, are a reminder that simple can often be best.
Fernando’s Mexican Cuisine has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood since opening. Lunch and dinner (even on weeknights) can be lively with tables occupied by families with kids, couples on a night out or groups of friends having fun with cold margaritas.
– Dotty Griffith, The Dallas Morning News