Restaurant Combines Family Recipes, Friendliness
By CHRISTOPHER DAVIS
“We have a lot of regulars at lunch,” says Mistie Ellis, co-owner of Neives’ Mexican Grill, “especially on Taco Tuesdays.”
Ellis is everywhere at once. One minute, she is out front greeting customers by first name. The next, she checks on her kitchen and helps move orders. She talks fast. Her energy is endless; her smile contagious. Her disposition is indicative of a person who is exactly where she is supposed to be. She opened the restaurant in December with her brother, Jonny McCreary, and it is clear Mistie’s passion for food and people is the secret to her early success.
Neives’ Mexican Grill, inside the All Star Sports Complex, is located at 10309 E. 61 Street, just west of U.S. Highway 169. The restaurant offers a fresh take on Mexican cuisine at an affordable price. Lunch specials, an expansive al-la-carte selection and a kids’ menu make it easy to eat on a budget. With video games, batting cages and miniature golf a few steps away, Neives’ is perfect for a quick lunch, a family meal or team dinner. Meals are served quickly, though, so customers are advised to wait until after they eat before starting a game.
“Some of the guys who come in for lunch go next door to the batting cages after they eat,” says Ellis. “I’ve gone over a couple times, but I only do the slow pitch. It’s a lot of fun.”
Games are a nice bonus, but the real attraction is the food.
“Everything is from scratch. Nothing is from a can – even the enchilada sauce. We start out with the pepper pod. We start with a dry pepper, cook it, de-seed them,” she says. “It can be a pain to make, sometimes, but it’s worth it.”
Prior to opening her restaurant, Ellis visited her mother and grandmother for some tips and family secrets. “I went up there for a week – for rice training with my grandma,” she laughs. Upon arrival, Ellis was put to work immediately. Her mother’s restaurant (Neives’ Mexican Restaurant of Winfield, Kan.) makes fresh tacos and enchiladas by the dozen for local fundraisers. With her mother having a big order to prepare, Ellis pulled into the driveway just in time for a lesson in restaurant-scale cooking.
“When I got there, they had already started making the food for the next day’s delivery. We stayed up all night long – including my grandma.” Ellis says, “We had over 1,100 dozen enchiladas and tacos.
“It was insane. I kept thinking, ‘I can’t lie down before grandma!’ She’s a hard worker.” Ellis spent the rest of the week focusing on recipes and developing the menu for her new restaurant. The hard work, love and family pride is evident.
“It’s really just my grandma’s stuff.” Ellis grew up watching her grandmother cook and helping out in her mother’s restaurant. “Some of the dishes, my family created along the way,” she says.
One example is the burancho, a burrito-chimichanga hybrid, smothered in Neives’ cheese sauce. Tacos, too, are unique. Light flour tortillas are packed full of meat, pinched into a pocket and deep fried. Served with lettuce and cheese, the tacos are easy to handle, with less mess and fuss than common tacos.
The restaurant, like its owner, bursts with individuality and warmth. For fans of Mexican cuisine, Neives’ Mexican Grill is a welcome addition to south Tulsa. Before visiting, visit them on Facebook, to find updates and specials.