Two highly acclaimed Mexican chefs are opening a new restaurant in downtown Austin this year. Mexta Restaurant will open at 106 East Sixth Street, Suite 110 — taking over the former Simi Estiatorio space — sometime this year.
Mexta’s website describes the menu as higher-end Mexican fusion cuisine with Austin takes. Behind the restaurant are the two of the three co-founders of the Culinary Institute by Southwest University in El Paso, Texas: Jonatan Gómez Luna Torres and Mikel Alonso Garcia.
Originally, when Eater Austin reported on January 25 that Mexta was coming, there had been a third chef included on materials for the restaurant. It was the third co-founder of the Culinary Institute, Carlos Gaytán. And while the chef was pictured on the restaurant’s website with his biography and named on the OpenTable page, a rep for Gaytán’s restaurant group Somos Hospitality Group informed Eater on February 7 that he is not part of the project. He has been removed from Mexta’s official website, but his name still appears on OpenTable. Eater has also reached out to Mexta for more information.
Torres, who is from Mexico City, studied at the Centro Culinario Ambrosia. From there, he had worked at various high-end restaurants and then opened Le Chique, a restaurant within the Riviera Maya region’s Azul Sensatori resort in 2008, which is on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant list
Garcia is from southwestern France and studied chemical engineering at Spain’s University of Basque Country. He realized he’d rather cook and then switched to study at the Escuela de Cocina Luis Irizar. He moved to Mexico City where he worked at various restaurants. He also opened his own restaurant, the now-closed Basque-style Biko, with co-owner Bruno Oteiza, which had made the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and the Latin America lists in 2016. That duo also developed Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort restaurant Cocina de Autor.
They opened their Texas culinary school in November 2023.
Mexta’s predecessor at the Littlefield building was Greek restaurant Simi Estiatorio — even though it is is using a technically different address than Simi. The restaurant had closed without any notice in March 2022 after less a year of being open amid alleged missing worker paychecks and getting evicted from the space. Before that, the space was home to pizzeria Due Forni, which also closed suddenly, citing increased rent, after three years of service.
When Mexta opens, its hours will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Sunday, and then from 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday.
Update, February 8: This article, originally published on by January 25, has been updated to clarify that Carlos Gaytán is not involved with Mexta.