Welcome Back, Las Velas

Sure, the date on the calendar might tell you that end is near for the month of July. But the mood in Market Square these days is more Cinco de Mayo now that Las Velas re-opened its doors for business. Nearly eight months after a fire shut down the Mexican hot spot, owner David Montanez is once again saying "Hola" to customers in search of authentic spicy dishes from South of the Border. While the official Grande Re-Opening happens Friday, we stopped in for a sneak peek — and a margarita — of the only restaurant that offers a bird's eye view of the Square.

Above it all, we slowly sipped our beverage as the lunchtime crowd strolled into the Square to listen the Wednesday Mid-Week Music concert — and walked up to our perch to reacquaint themselves with Las Velas' authentic Mexican meals on a menu that's as familiar as an old friend's smile. By noon, sunshine and happy patrons filled Las Velas and David was grinning from ear to ear as he watched his staff serve tray after tray of freshly prepared platters of food that will leave you satisfied and wishing for a midday siesta.

Las Velas' food focuses on the flavors of David's youth, growing up in Mexico City and moving to the Riviera Maya region.  We're happy to report that you'll find all your favorites on the menu, including enchiladas, burritos, fresh seafood and traditional soft-shell tacos. A little twist - you can now get your tacos Mexican style (onion and cilantro) or Tex-Mex (lettuce, tomato, cheese).  And, everything is as muy delicioso as we remember.  Plus, you'll want to try some new features such as the soup of the day and a new ingredient in many of the meals — blanco queso. In case you "no hablo Espanol" that translates as a tasty traditional white Mexican cheese that's as delicious to eat as it is to say. While he wanted the re-opening to recreate Las Velas as it was before, we think you'll enjoy the physical changes made the cut like windows that open onto the Square, tile where there was carpet, and the bar has been opened up so the interior seating now has a grand view of the Square... David hopes to add a few new touches such as an al fresco lunchtime taco stand and a full-blown annual Cinco de Mayo party.

We're plenty pleased that Las Velas is back on the Square. Truth be told, David admits that he received a tempting offer to set up shop way out in the ’burbs. We're happy to report that he remained true to Downtown and the Square because as he says, "Market Square is where things are really happening." Of course, we second that — and are glad to welcome back one of the most happening restaurants in the Square.

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