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Nixta’s Next Trick Is a New Tasting Menu Journeying From Mexico to the U.S.

Flor Xakali explores chef Edgar Rico’s family history through entrees like bean tamals and masa cakes

A plate of a tamal with sliced tomatoes.
A dish from Flor Xakali.
Flor Xakali
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

One of Austin’s most exciting Mexican restaurants — Nixta Taqueria — is opening a new tasting menu service this summer. Flor Xakali will open at Nixta’s current front patio at 2512 East 12th Street in the Chestnut neighborhood starting tentatively Wednesday, July 5.

Flor Xakali is an omakase service that highlights co-owner, chef, and James Beard Award winner Edgar Rico’s family history from Mexico to the United States. Rico and wife/business partner/director of operations Sara Mardanbigi wanted to create a dedicated culinary space to explore these generational pasts, presents, and futures. The name stems from co-owner and chef Edgar Rico’s mother’s name (Flor) and the Uto-Aztecan language Nahuatl word for “shelter” (Xakali). “Nixta is so personal and everything that we do infuses a lot of ourselves and our personal anecdotes in it,” says Mardanbigi.

Through the food, drinks, and accompanying take-home storybook zine, the journey of Flor starts out with the Rico family’s wider ancestry of the Indigenous communities in Mexico, where people would hunt small animals and forage mesquite and tunas (cactus). Then it narrows down to focus on his mother’s history from growing up in El Oregano in the Mexico city of San Luis Potosi to immigrating to Salinas, California where his grandmother worked crop fields (this is where Edgar became enamored with vegetables, an inclination that is evident with Nixta’s menu). The family moved to Visalia, California, where they would cook enchiladas postinas for family gatherings (another important dish at Nixta), and then moves into the present day when three generations of Ricos helped the couple open the restaurant. It was a “full circle moment,” Mardanbigi tells Eater.

A cake inside shards of chocolate.
The masa cake within a chocolate orb.
Flor Xakali
A clay cup with a face.
A drink at Flor Xakali.
Flor Xakali

The menu will span snacks, entrees, and historical traditional Mexican fermented beverages. There could be items like rabbit barbacoa, rajas (a childhood dish of Rico’s from his mother), a crudite offering made using produce from the Nixta garden, snapper with salsa veracruzana, and a masa cake with prickly pear strawberries and lemon verbena encased in a chocolate magic shell orb made using Hijita Cacao.

The Flor experience is meant to be a multi-sensory one. The physical space — the covered front patio of the restaurant — is meant to feel like “Mexico meets West Texas,” as Mardanbigi describes. She and friend Emily Reed of Gypsy Floral redesigned the space, adding in tumbleweeds and an installation making use of husks leftover from the corn the restaurant uses from Oaxaca. “It’s meant to feel like you’re in a little house in rural Mexico,” she says, “very colorful, very bright.”

There also will be a humidor, a clay vessel creating smoke from a special blend made with herbs and Oaxacan copal wood. The music playlist will include Flor’s favorite songs and musicians.

Rico and Mardanbigi opened Nixta in September 2019, after Rico’s stints in Los Angeles restaurants like Son of a Gun and Trois Mec. Quickly, the restaurant garnered critical acclaim and general praise, including the Eater Austin Award for best new restaurant in 2021. And then Rico won the James Beard Award in the Emerging Chef category in 2022, which had been his first nomination.

The restaurant is going to be featured in an Austin PBS documentary series about themselves and their friends at taco trucks Discada (Xose Velasco and Anthony Pratto) and Cuantos Tacos (Luis “Beto” Robledo), and the group’s work to create and showcase a new era of Mexican food in Austin as well as their community efforts. Taco Mafia (the name of their friend group) premieres in the fall.

Someone pouring a broth into a shallow plate of  diced foods.
A dish from Flor Xakali.
Flor Xakali
A bunch of vegetables on top of a leaf.
The crudite from Flor Xakali.
Flor Xakali

After its first day of service, going forward, Xakali will be open Tuesdays through Thursdays for the summer. There will be two seatings per evening, one at 6 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m., with 12 people per meal. Tickets are $125 per person. When it becomes fall, the days of service might change.

Nixta Taqueria

2512 East 12th Street, , TX 78702 Visit Website

Flor Xakali

2512 East 12th Street, Austin, Texas 78702 Visit Website

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