More Mex 

The Luchita's empire stakes ground in Hudson.

The Galindos, Cleveland's first family of Mexican food, have opened a Luchita's in Hudson.

The new spot is a smartly appointed beauty, with high ceilings, clerestory windows, and tongue-and-groove yellow pine flooring. The focal point, though, is the maple, slate, and limestone bar, which also serves as a room divider and an artful display rack for an impressive collection of sippin' tequilas.

"We plan on offering every tequila available for import," says co-owner and executive chef Rey Galindo. "That ought to number about 55, give or take a few."

The restaurant (at 36 Park Lane in the First & Main shopping district, 330-655-0059) is the sixth Luchita's in the Galindo empire, and its "tequilaria" theme will serve as a prototype for all future locations. Luchita's other restaurants -- in Mentor, Elyria, Shaker Square, and the original, on West 117th -- will undergo makeovers. (The Parma location is scheduled to close.)

With an expanding empire and an eye toward quality control, Galindo is also consolidating the menus. "Before, we would change the menus at each restaurant every three months. Now, we'll have one set menu for all the locations, and it will look like the one in Hudson."

Which is not a bad thing. The big, colorful bill of fare includes all the crowd-pleasers, including tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and chicken in slow-simmered mole sauce -- an unbelievably complex compound made with roasted chiles, toasted pumpkin seeds, almonds, spices, and Mexican chocolate. Rich, smooth, and full of subtle (and not-so-subtle) nuance, it could make a tablecloth taste great.

Flour power . . . Local food entrepreneur Ed Wagner is a thankful kinda guy, not least of all because his year-old business, Grateful Ed's Pancakes (www.gratefuleds.com), is poised to take off. The former wine rep developed his signature pancake mix -- roasted buckwheat flour, buttermilk, cornmeal, and a touch of cinnamon -- for family breakfasts. Now Clevelanders can buy it at dozens of locations, including Zagara's Market (Cleveland Heights), Nature's Bin (Lakewood), and the Mustard Seed (Solon and Montrose). Wagner also has plans to go national, with sales locations lined up in New York and Pennsylvania, and through mail-order giant Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. A cinch to use -- and right tasty, too -- the mix retails for around $6.


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