Our latest dining experience could be classified as excellent from start to finish. We had mojitos and sangria ($2.50 during happy hour) at the bar, and ordered a tostada de ceviche. The mojitos were excellent, the sangria fresh and fruity, and the ceviche was tasty and tangy, just the right starter for the evening. Our bartender was... attentive and provided great service even though there wasn't a single empty seat at the bar. An auspicious start to what turned out to be a wonderful culinary journey. We were seated promptly when our party members arrived and started our meal with one of the entrees. The pork ribs, were abundant (it looked like an entire rack of ribs), flavorful, tender, meaty, and finger licking good . We polished it off with gusto, looking forward to what lay ahead. Our entrees soon arrived looking very artful in their presentation with mounds of rice shaped like pyramids. The Jalapeno Glazed Salmon over White rice was the best dish of the night - the seasoning and the marriage of flavors are brilliant, winning combination. The spinach and sweet potato enchelada was also very good. The desserts were also a revelation - the flan (I ordered it with the sauce on the side) , light and airy and so-so good. The meal came out to about $35 per couple before tip. Considering we all had cocktails and 3 courses (shared the appetizers and desserts) this was an excellent value for the quality of the food we sampled. The food IS worth what you pay. And I could not ask for better service of waitstaff that obviously take pride in their restaurant. People know good food, and if the crowd tonight was anything to go by (the entire restaurant was packed to the hilt on a Friday night), they know they will find it at Cielo Mexican Bistro. I certainly did.
This is a truly fine restaurant. The service is excellent, the decor is fabulous, the prices are reasonable and best of all the food is true New Mexico food at its very best. We absolutely love this place. The enchiladas are stacked rather than rolled, in true New Mexico style. The peppers used in the red and green chili sauces are New Mexico raised. I grew up in New Mexico and this food is in my blood. My wife on the other hand is from New England. She had her first exposure to this food in Albuquerque when she attended the University of New Mexico. She's now as ardent a fan as I am and has become a pretty good cook of New Mexico food in her own right. She too is crazy about Santa Fe flats. We don't drink but many of the restaurants other customers each time we visit are enjoying the house margaritas served in large beer mugs. When the weather is decent, the kids play outside in a sandbox while we dine in an adjacent covered ramada. Live music is provided outside several times a week. We've been coming here now for over three years and the same waitstaff has been here the whole time. The proprietors, whose roots are in New Mexico, have done a fabulous job in bringing New Mexico's finest food to Houston.
I am in agreement with other reviewers on several recurring issues including the service which can be slow, and the high prices for small portions of food prepared competently yet without real inspiration. The menu itself is also somewhat limited in choices, particulalry for dinner. Executive Chef Ryan Pera is the inspiration behind the kitchen of The Grove. One of the best times to visit the restaurant is during its famed Sunday Brunch. It is when the natural lighting is at its best and is perfect for a front seat to the weekend festivities downtown. The restaurant offers a variety of creative spirits that set the mood for an urban relaxed lunch. One of the only places in Houston to offer a Clear Spicy Bloody Mary, The Grove has recently added a Banana Margarita to its drink list, which includes herradura silver tequila and coconut crunch, accentuating a fruity kick to brunch. A word of advice –be sure to use the restaurant’s convenient and fast valet parking services when downtown is busy. Parking in and around the park can often be hard, if not impossible, to find, depending on the festivities going on at the time.