Taco shops open and close every day, and few notice. It seems that everyone noticed Resident Taqueria opened. The restaurant, owned by husband and wife Andrew and Amy Savoie and designed by the Guest Group, has been one of my most anticipated taqueria openings of 2015. Andrew is a chef who honed his craft in renowned kitchens like Jean-Georges before taking root in Dallas’ Lake Highlands neighborhood, where Amy grew up. Both went all in on this concept of a taco spot geared toward the locals, a family restaurant, but with thoughtful fare that shows deference to the taco’s history and Mexican ingredients. Everything from the agua fresca to the signage and tortillas would be handmade. What a taqueria should be. So it’s been, and it’s been nuts.
That goes for the peppy peanuts claiming real estate on Resident’s tacos and for the buzz.
Let’s start with the negatives.
The space is small, with only a couple of feet between the ordering counter and the front door. That means the line—and there have been lines since the soft opening—has to arch into the restaurant between the bar and the seating along the wall. There’s also the case of the family behind this family business, which includes Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, an incredible musician who is especially loved in her native Dallas. Clark is Amy’s sister and was waitressing and bussing at the taqueria this weekend during what at times looked like an overwhelming turnout for tacos. The press went nuts. The Savoies and the taqueria staff, servers and all, kept working, dishing out seriously promising tacos. And Resident Taqueria has only been officially open since Thursday, Oct. 8.
I’m especially keen on one of the two vegetarian tacos available, the cauliflower and kale taco. I loathe cauliflower and kale. But in a taco with a touch of lemon-epazote aioli and sprinkled with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) it has crunch and snap and pins of heat from fresh salsa on a light, fluffy flour tortilla. Caramelization skates across the vegetables, while dark spots are here and there on the tortillas, pleasantly rough with pockets of air and textured with minuscule particles of flour. I’d go back just for that taco alone, but I would order it on a corn tortilla, made from fresh nixtamalized masa and available by request. As for the other vegetarian taco, it’s a salty-warm mushroom option with almond salsa and queso Oaxaca.
The pork belly is sweet from an iridescent glaze and freshened up with slaw and cucumber wheels. The swirl of smoked tomato cream sauce gave the house-made chorizo and potato taco extra pop. The addition of chipotle did much the same for the braised short rib. Meanwhile, the fish taco with a fetching watermelon radish needed a greater swath of mustard seeds, and the dark-meat chicken with mole and peanuts toyed with crossing the dry line. It was better on a subsequent visit.
What I keep coming back to is Resident’s guacamole. It has peas, as did the Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Cocina-inspired New York Times recipe that got such a social media backlash even the president chimed in. The peas contributed only bitterness and grumbling.
That being said, Resident Taqueria has given Dallas a fresh taste of how simple and refreshing tacos can be when the people making them value quality over quantity. Resident Taqueria could easily pile on a series of hyphenated ingredients onto a tortilla and obliterate the flavors with three salsas for $5–$7 a pop wedged into a snazzy plate. I’m grateful they don’t. Dallas doesn’t need anymore of that. What it does need is more of what Resident Taqueria has to offer. Don’t let the lines deter you. If you’re reading this, you’re likely the sort to wait hours in the hot Texas sun for barbecue. Fifteen minutes for a handmade taco is worth it.
9661 Audelia Road, Ste. 112