After closing shop at Ciudad in 2007, a taqueria located in downtown Dallas, customers constantly complained that they missed Monicaâ€™s delicious food. When asked what they missed about Ciudad, the answer was always â€œyou had the best enchiladas ever!â€
Restaurateur and Mexican food entrepreneur, Monica Greene, has been in the restaurant business in Dallas for 37 years. With the opening of Ciudad in 2000 came several awards, unique enchiladas and customers begging for more. Originally from Mexico City, Greene came to Dallas and began to make a distinctive footprint in the Mexican restaurant world. She opened up a few taquerias, and most notably, Monicaâ€™s Aca y Alla in Deep Ellum.
At 56 years old, she had dreams of creating a restaurant that, as she called it, â€œhad legs.â€ One that could replicate and flourish. But according to Greene, Dallas is full of entrepreneurs trying to create new concepts, and thereâ€™s just too much Mexican food. And with Mexican food, you can pretty much know whatâ€™s going to be on the menu and how itâ€™s going to be prepared, she said. She decided she couldnâ€™t open a taqueria because thereâ€™s too many of those too, so it was time for a fast casual restaurant with a twist.
â€œIt was a challenge creating a menu that is appealing to customers yet was going to be unique,â€ Greene said.
Enchiladas it is. It would be called BEE: the worldâ€™s first â€œenchiladeria,â€ a word that was coined by Greene and has been registered. The word BEE would stand for â€œBest Enchiladas Ever,â€ straight from the mouths of her loyal Ciudad customers.
Being from Mexico City, Greene said enchiladas arenâ€™t just an everyday meal you throw in the oven.
â€œWhere I come from itâ€™s comfort food. Itâ€™s food you donâ€™t eat everyday, itâ€™s a special kind of a day. And you have to have friends to make it,â€ she said.
To make the enchiladas special and different in Dallas, she would create a menu that customers could choose the sauce, filling and cheese for each enchilada they order.
â€œPeople love it, they become their own chefâ€
And itâ€™s not just your ordinary enchiladas. The meats are cooked for hours, the sauces tasted until perfection, and once people take a bite, they know why itâ€™s called BEE,â€ beekeeper, Steven Roberts said. From Chicken tinga enchiladas with Oaxaca cheese and beeware salsa to pork carnitas with an avocado verde sauce, thereâ€™s also options for vegetarian enchilada lovers and even vegans. BEE offers a quinoa and tofu enchilada stuffed with braised tofu, quinoa, yellow squash and roasted corn.
And if that isnâ€™t enough to get your tongue wagging, one family even drove from all the way from Oklahoma City to see what all of the buzz was about, Roberts said.
Often compared to Chipotle, Greene realizes there are some similarities.
â€œI find it flattering that they compare us to Chipotle because itâ€™s been really successful and they have a good product, but the comparison stops once youâ€™ve tried the food,â€ she said.
But, she also recognizes theyâ€™re the first and only enchiladeria, and soon people will copy them as well. What also sets BEE apart from any other Mexican restaurants in the area is their concern for saving the planet. Greene has plans of finding the right paper material for plates that is organic, disposable, works for enchiladas and wonâ€™t hurt the earth. She even has dreams of implementing a system where customers can purchase a plate that is earth friendly to â€œhelp save the planet one plate at a time,â€ she said.
When I bit into my first BEE enchilada, Greene and Roberts were right. They are truly the best enchiladas ever. The chicken tinga enchilada on a wheat tortilla topped with queso blanco, lettuce, purple onions and tomato is to die for. The beef brisket was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and was perfectly paired with a Oaxaca cheese and the avocado verde sauce. Whatâ€™s more, you can also build your own tacos, burritos and salads. For anyone who likes Mexican food, BEE will change your perspective on enchiladas forever. Yum.