Tequila and Mezcal Sofia Pavon-Wilson

Sofia Pavon-Wilson and her husband own Tequila and Mezcal.

Sofia Pavon-Wilson wants to reinvent Mexican cuisine. Until recently, Pavon-Wilson’s parents owned and operated Yoselin’s Mexican Cuisine and More in downtown Springfield. Now, she and her husband are taking the reins. Last week, Pavon-Wilson reopened Yoselin’s as Tequila & Mezcal Mexican Cuisine and Bar, serving what Pavon describes as “upscale Mexican with a modern twist.”

The new concept is a natural step for Pavon-Wilson, who remembers tottering around in her parents’ restaurants at an early age. Born in Querétaro, Mexico, Pavon-Wilson immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of four. Pavon-Wilson’s parents, Maria Hernandez and Juan Pavon, operated several Mexican eateries before moving to Springfield, where they opened Yoselin’s in late 2016. Now, they’re passing the torch to Pavon-Wilson, who has big plans. “Our menu will be more upscale – more modern,” she says.

While the lunch menu will remain largely the same – Hernandez still has the reins during the lunch rush – the restaurant will go beyond classics like tacos and burritos, introducing more veggie-forward fare and a fully vegan menu that will debut this summer. The new dinner menu is the brainchild of Pavon-Wilson’s brother, Luis Pavon, who runs the kitchen in the evenings. The restaurant’s new name is a nod to the diverse drink menu, with a wide variety of hard-to-find tequilas as well as mezcal-based drinks. “I’m excited about our mezcalita,” Pavon-Wilson says. “It’s a really refreshing drink with pineapple and mezcal – great in the summer.” For Pavon-Wilson, it’s the first step in what she hopes will be a lasting culinary legacy. “We’re going beyond casual, run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex,” she says. “I’m excited to see what’s next.”

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with and why? Not to be completely stereotypical, but any type of pepper. I love my spicy food. I also love chorizo – it’s delicious on literally everything.

What’s your perfect day of eating in Springfield? My family’s thing is Waffle House, so that would be breakfast for sure. Lunch and dinner definitely depends on the day, but we do we love sushi – Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese food as well. If it’s a perfect day, we’ll probably go to Pho Kim or Bambu.

What concepts or styles of cooking do you hope to see added or expanded in Springfield? Springfield’s scene is already diverse as it is. There’s an Indian place, Zayka, a block and a half away from our restaurant. There’s Italian around the corner. Between us and Maria’s, we have Mexican covered. I don’t know how controversial this will be, but given the current marijuana debate I’d love to see how someone – maybe even us, who knows – could execute cannabis-infused food. That would be something completely new and interesting to try.

What do you like to cook at home or on your day off? I definitely try to mix it up at home. A lot of nights, I’ll cook American-Italian like chicken Parmesan. I’ll also either make my own alfredo sauce or use my brother’s pesto recipe.

What is your first food memory? It’s got to be the first jalapeño I ate at, like, 18 months old. I just fell in love with it. I’ve been a spicy person ever since.

What are your future plans? I want to expand every aspect of this project. Whether it be a new location or remodeling the current location, I just want to level everything up. Should we have the demand, I’d love to look into another location – whether that be here in Springfield or another city.

Tequila & Mezcal Mexican Cuisine and Bar, 431 S. Jefferson Ave., Springfield, Missouri, 417.771.5059, facebook.com/Teqzcal