This ambitious new Modern Mexican restaurant on the Takeshiba waterfront serves a very different menu from most Mex and Tex-Mex spots around town, specializing in grilled meats and seafood, stews, ceviches and numerous regional snacks and side dishes. The head chef, Victor Vasquez, is a former executive chef at the Mexican Embassy, and noted mixologist Naoya Otake has designed a very original and creative cocktail menu to complement the food.
The dinner menu is large enough that it deserves multiple visits to explore fully. One recent highlight was the shrimp and octopus "coctel" - plump, tender chunks of marinated seafood in a well-balanced sauce with ripe tomatoes and a bit of fruit for contrast. The sea-bream Ceviche of the Day (one of several other seafood items on the cold-starter menu), was also quite appetizing, with the tart marinade balanced by fatty avocado slices.
Hearty Queso Fundido is an excellent follow-up to the seafood. The menu describes it as a fondue made with raclette cheese (a decent substitute for traditional Mexican cheeses) and it's loaded with ingredients like seasonal mushrooms, chorizo and shrimp. It comes with several mini-tortillas, and unlike a fondue there's no need for dipping and scooping - you can just spoon out a portion onto your plate.
Sopes are a popular snack in central and southern Mexico, made with a thick corn-masa shell filled with various ingredients. Here they're topped with three types of chorizo sausage meat along with bits of cheese, cream and a shredded vegetable garnish. The tacos selection covers more than fifteen varieties, including crispy fried flautas (filled with chicken, beef or potatoes) and lettuce-wrapped ligeros tacos (octopus, shrimp or tuna-avocado).
Grilled meats and fish are the other specialty here, and they're served on platters big enough for groups of three or four, ranging from marlin and octopus to lamb, pork, and rib-eye and Tomahawk steaks. "Molcajete" beef, chicken and seafood stews are also jumbo-sized for group sharing.
Cielito's massive cocktail menu features fresh fruit-infused and other sweet drinks (with pear, banana, pineapple, cacao) and half a dozen paloma variations. These are tequila-soda long drinks with unexpected flavorings like basil and gorgonzola cheese.
There are also music-themed cocktails, several original mocktails, and a line-up of five Mexican craft beers by the bottle. You can study detailed charts that explain the flavor profile of each drink or you can just ask the staff for recommendations.
The lunch menu (served until 5pm) is built around more familiar Tokyo Mexican fare - tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas - although "Today's Mexican Plate" often showcases more unusual dishes.
The dining room is spacious and airy, with ample separation between tables, and the booths at the front of the restaurant are especially comfortable. There's also some outdoor seating for when the weather permits. Dinner with drinks averages around Y3,500-5,000 a head, depending on how many fancy cocktails you order. Lunches are priced at Y1,000-1,300.