“When we cut that bar, that was the dream come true. An explosion of emotion there,” Jose Luis Rodriguez said of the opening of Mixettos Kitchen.
DALLAS – I asked Jose Luis Rodriguez if it was too much of an exaggeration to describe his current situation as a true “American dream.” But he says that’s exactly what his life is for now, with a heavy dose of Mexican flavor, Japanese cuisine, and French-inspired béchamel sauce rolled out really well, too.
Several months ago, his first dream wasn’t quite coming true. Try one of the “ghost kitchens” where you can rent a kitchen space and fill online and take out only orders.
“It’s the faith that keeps me going,” he told me then.
But his belief, and his dream, was that he would one day have an entire restaurant of his own.
He came to America from Mexico 22 years ago and settled in Dallas.
“Just get a better life,” he said. “You know.”
And I spent all those years as a waiter and server for other people. His real dream was to be a chef and owner of his own restaurant.
Well, just last month, the doors opened at Mixtitos Kitchen at the corner of Grand and Samuell in East Dallas. It’s where you can find Jose Luis behind the bar, directing a crew of chefs and assistant chefs in the kitchen, and making constant rounds of the dining room to welcome customers.
“You don’t have to cook anymore,” he joked with one of his first customers. “Let’s do it for you.” “It’s great to have friends here. Sure anytime.”
Which is where you can find his dream started to come true.
“I always position myself and put this as one of my mottos, hard work pays off. And that’s what I’ve been doing.”
He, his family, his wife, daughter and sister-in-law work at Mixtitos. They took an old restaurant space, redesigned it, reimagined it, and turned it into their own restaurant. They commissioned a mural for their center podium. A curved road through a small town shows a Mexican man gazing across the plaza at a Japanese woman: It will be Karina, Jose Luis’ wife.
“I strongly believe in his talent,” said Karina Totsuka, whose mother was Mexican and her father Japanese. “And I know I know how capable he is. That’s why his dream became my dream. Because I believe in him.”
Mixtitos cuisine blends Mexican and Japanese dishes with French cooking techniques.
“This wonderful sandwich is called Croque Monsieur,” Jose Luis said of one of his most famous dishes. “It’s all in one bite,” he said of a grilled sandwich “dipped in a béchamel sauce filled with descada meat and Swiss cheese.”
Just as they mixed up a Mexican, Japanese, and American family, he likes to say, and they cooked up their American dream.
“And the American dream can be possible if you put yourself in this situation and that situation, I believe you can achieve anything you want, anything you want, and it’s possible here in America.”
Dallas City Council members helped him cut the official ribbon just last month.
“Oh my God. When we cut that tape, that was the dream come true. Right there. It was like an explosion of feelings there. And I felt so good. It feels so good.”
He admits that he hopes Mixtitos Kitchen can also help offer something else.
He said of the intersection of Grand and Samuels, “I hope when I see this beautiful corner of Dallas, we thought we’d put the spotlight on this neighborhood. A little light on this side of the corner of Dallas.”
His sister-in-law Yoshiko Totsuka said, “The love, appreciation, and support from the community, from people like all of you, was amazing.” “It fills my heart and makes me wake up every day ready to serve it with a smile and the best dishes here at Mixtitos.”
So, with his sister-in-law Yoshiko and other members of his family helping set up and running Mixtitos Kitchen, there’s faith in a success story brewing in the corner of Samuell and Grand.
“I’m a big believer,” Jose Luis said. “So God works in mysterious ways. He directs you to different people. Now we are here with big expectations and big things we can create and that’s amazing. These feelings are great.”
And he hopes you’ll find the food great too, as an American dream takes shape…one at a time.
“This is our dream job,” Karina Totsuka said. “We’re together. We’re getting stronger.” “Más unidos. Más fuertes!”
Jose Luis said, “I have no words to explain how great it feels. It feels so good.”