a selection of dishes from diego's photo by adam rothbarth

First Look: Diego's in University City

For a long time, Diego’s, the new Mexican restaurant from the owners of Frida’s, almost seemed like a rumor. Aiming to take over the former Momo’s Greek Tavern space at 622 North and South Road, the restaurant went through nearly two years of remodels and paperwork. As of Tuesday, Oct. 13, the dream became real as Diego’s opened its doors to the public.  

And though the Momo’s space becoming available presented the opportunity to start officially working on Diego’s, co-owner Natasha Kwan had been thinking about it for far longer. “We always wanted a Mexican spot. It’s always been on our minds,” she said. For her and her friends, a great Mexican meal means a lot of sharing, which is why she decided to go the small plate route with Diego’s. “When we go out for Mexican, we want a little of this and a little of that,” she explained. Her goal here was to essentially create a Mexican tapas restaurant.  

On that note, Diego’s menu is full of shareable plates, dips and single tacos. A list of starters, titled botonas here, includes the requisite chips and salsa, guacamole and queso blanco. A shrimp cocktail sees five jumbo shrimp and a bowl of fresh sauce with flavors like pineaple and serrano, while the queso chicharrones comprises a massive cheese skirt with pockets of roasted chile rolled into a long cylinder. A house salad with charred corn, cotija and cumin-lime dressing is available, as are sides of pinto beans and rice. Escabeche (pickled vegetables) is here, as is an esquites dish.  

A long list of upscale tacos includes carnitas with seasoned chicken, pollo guisado (braised chicken), shrimp and costra de chiles asados, which sees roasted chiles, fresh veggies, salsa roja and avocado sitting atop a tortilla laced with crispy cheese. The grilled fish taco combines berramundhi with smoked crema; the shrimp toastada features juicy shrimp, avocado mash, pickled onion and more. A vegan tostada with avocado mash, cabbage, tomato, cilantro, onion and jalapeno crema rounds out the menu.  

Two desserts are available: a grilled banana with strawberry, caramel, cinnamon and cayenne; and an ice cream dish served with a ginger-spiced cookie.  

A list of original cocktails is based, naturally, around tequila and mezcal. The Viva Los Verde has El Buho mezcal, lime, herbs and salt, while the Tequila Tonic combines house tonic, Espolon blanco, and seasonal fruits and herbs. A list of classic cocktails includes a paloma, a daquiri and the El Burro, which is basically a tequila mule. Tequila and mezcal margaritas are also available, of course. An Espolon flight gives diners a chance to taste the differences between Espolon blanco, reposado and anejo. As for beer, Diego’s is currently working on a new list of predominantly Mexican brews.  

Check out the slideshow below for more information about Diego’s hours, dining room and menu.