Slated to open Wednesday, December 6 at the Capital One Center in Tysons, Virginia, Ometeo promises nostalgic flavors, distinctive Tex Mex techniques, and a lively agave cocktail program. Headed by Long Shot Hospitality, the group behind The Salt Line restaurants and Dauphine’s, and Top Chef winner Gabe Erales, Ometeo is a salute to Tex-Mex cuisine and the unexpected fusion of two culinary powerhouses. Ometeo translates from Nahautl as “two gods,” in this case referencing the two culinary deities of Mexican and Texan cuisine. Erales hopes the menu will emphasize the distinctive flavors, techniques, and ingredients of both culinary traditions, and re-educate patrons on the intricate flavors that are nestled within nostalgic Tex-Mex favorites like enchiladas, chile con queso, and fajitas.
The 11,000-square-foot space is home to a vast outdoor dining space and bar, a mezzanine level equipped for events or a lounge space, and expansive dining areas hosting intimate views of an active kitchen. The interior coaxes guests through streaming natural light, vibrant colored tiles, and natural greenery, as the dining space seamlessly merges between a bustling indoor dining room and outdoor bar. Jeremy Carman of Long Shot Hospitality explained, “We were drawn to the space for its outdoor components, but also its versatility to host a variety of occasions. The outdoor bar offers a ‘let your hair down’ mentality for casual sipping, yet the mezzanine floor offers luxurious intimacy, perfect for events or an elevated happy hour.”
Tex-Mex cuisine on the whole was far more localized a decade ago, thriving mostly along the borderlands of Texas and branching further west. Erales muses over his childhood in El Paso, recollecting Sunday afternoons communing over Mexican carne asada, dipping bolillo in sopa de queso, or delving into Texan culture with a little campfire cooking. To lay the groundwork for Ometeo, Erales and the team embarked on a five-day exploration of Texas, gathering inspiration from tortillerias and cafes across the state. Forming this collective view of Tex-Mex cuisines and traditions, Erales was excited to help Tex-Mex find a new voice, one rooted in the essences of nostalgic flavors, timeless techniques, and regional ingredients.
While much of Erales’ career thus far (including his involvement with recent openings Bacalar and Tómalo Taquería) has centered on the Mexican dishes of his heritage, he is eager to incorporate that knowledge into a truly Tex-Mex concept. Erales detailed every inch of the menu, infusing his expertise and discerning palate into each dish, prioritizing wholesome ingredients whenever possible. One such prioritization is the tortilla program at Ometeo. All tortillas will be made in house, and Erales has embraced a conscious shift toward heirloom-grade, non-GMO corn tortillas, now a flavorful superfood. With Ometeo being further north than many Tex-Mex concepts, they are also able to tap into regional seafood for their menu and are executing traditional ceviches with scallop aguachile, hamachi with prickly pear, and a Maine lobster tostada. Another unique take Ometeo offers is their presentation of the famous fan-favorite: fajitas. Many of us have sat in a Tex-Mex restaurant booth and watched a steaming plate of fajitas land at a nearby table, the smoke rising in celebratory swirls. Ometeo takes this spectacle a step further by adding the option for “con todo,” where fajitas are delivered family-style for the entire table in a tiered, grandeur display, a sizzling salute to this Tex-Mex classic.
For Erales, a new era of Tex-Mex embodies a whimsical and sustainable approach that embraces the nation-wide nostalgia for the dishes but leans heavily into regional sourcing and traditional techniques. “Tex-Mex should invoke a sense of approachability but also a reverence for the ingredients, flavors, and history that led to their synthesis,” says Erales. Ometeo will draw on Native American techniques, nomadic Texan campfire cooking, Sonoran traditions, and much more to build out the melting pot of what makes up Tex-Mex flavor. “I want people to view Tex-Mex as more than just chile con queso. I want them to partake in this celebration of culture and flavor that results from food that has touched the hearts and history of many,” says Erales.
Ometeo Opening Menu
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Emily Havener
- by TLP Editors
- by Amber Chase