North Arlington has a new upscale Mexican restaurant with some familiar faces.
Maria Cuca’s Mexican Cuisine opened this fall in the Waters Edge at Viridian shopping center, 3970 N. Collins St., specializing in authentic Mexican and Tex Mex dishes.
Built by legendary real estate developer Mojy Haddad, the shopping center will fill the needs for the 2,000-acre Viridian residential development across the street.
“The people in Viridian are very appreciative of the services I have brought in,” Haddad said “They wanted a good Mexican restaurant and I went out and got the best one.”
Haddad called on an old friend, Enrique Rodriguez.
“I’ve known him since he was 14 years old,” Haddad said. “He had a (Maria Cuca’s) location in Keller and I heard so many good things about it. I designed the shopping center and Maria Cuca’s. I wanted to have a modern twist to Mexican, but still wanted to have the Mexican flavor. It’s simple but elegant.”
Rodriguez brought his family recipes. He and his brothers have worked in the restaurant business since the 1970s, and all used to work for Mariano’s, Haddad said.
“My brother, Francisco Rodriguez, all of the recipes are his,” Rodriguez said. “The passion that we put into the work we do (is the secret). Most of the people working here, I have been working with for years.”
Rodriguez brought in his old friend, Chef Roberto Morales, to create the house specialties, like Cuca’s Pollo, Tacos de Mexico, Camarones Vallarta, Sopas, Carne Asada and premium margaritas. Made with premium tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice and a secret mix, the margarita on the rocks drew a lot of attention at the recent ribbon cutting.
“They mayor said it was the best margarita he ever had,” Haddad said.
The restaurant is drawing attention from a lot of other people, too, including some celebrities. Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was rumored to have been spotted at Maria Cuca’s the weekend after winning the World Series. When he stood up to leave, the other diners gave him a round of applause.
“We want this to be the place to come in Arlington,” Haddad said. “I did not want to bring in another chain restaurant. I want them to come from all over the city, not only the neighborhood but this city and surrounding cities.”
“I want people to be aware of the treasure that I brought to Arlington,” he said.