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Nacho OrdinaryTex-Mex

El Palacio offers dishes from Mexico, by way of the Continent

The new happy hour is a good bet, too. El Palacio's house margarita is a "gold" version made with Grand Marnier; during happy hour, it goes for only $2 a pop. "I wanted to make people an offer they can't refuse," Khajehali chuckles.

So why would a busy and successful chef such as Khajehali strike out in such an unexpected direction with a second restaurant? Maybe he's betting on the location: Midtown is the darling of the current buzz, with rumors that renaissance and reconstruction will overflow there from the hyperdeveloped downtown district. His new partner, Florez, speculates that Khajehali was just ready to stretch his culinary repertoire in new directions, and certainly El Palacio has a menu to watch (Bistro 224's menu took almost two years to evolve).

But Khajehali himself offers a simpler answer. "Mr. Christie," he says with a laugh, "made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

El Palacio Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, 3512 Main, 807-7755.

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