Category Archives: Design District

John Tesar’s Plans for El Bolero Mexican Restaurant

El Bolero's tacos al pastor.

El Bolero’s tacos al pastor.

John Tesar is a no slouch. He is owner and executive chef at Knife. He has a cookbook in the works with Jordan Mackay, co-author with Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto. He is developing an Italian restaurant concept. And he is partner-operator at Apheleia Restaurant Group’s Oak. There he has tweaked and streamlined the kitchen and menu and business is improving. Now comes news that he is doing the same at El Bolero, Apheleia’s upscale Mexican spot, after ownership and El Bolero’s opening executive chef parted ways last month.

My only dining experience at El Bolero was the restaurant’s first night of service, when the menu was limited and the service extremely attentive. I had ample time to speak with co-owner John Paul Valverde (whose Coeval Studio also designed the gorgeous space) that night. We talked about the need for a variety of salsa options. I lobbied for a plethora of choices like those available in Mexico City: whole beans, French fries, salsas of every color and Scoville heat unit. I spoke with a manager about agave spirits, and he customized a mezcal flight for me. All of this from the best seat in the house—at the bar in front of the trompo, where I got to watch the taquero work his knife against the spinning top of marinated pork. The tacos al pastor on fresh corn tortillas were good but the execution needed flare. Part of eating these Mexico City favorites is the show taqueros put on for customers, flicking knives this way and that, attempting to catch pineapple slices behind their backs.

I don’t know if the spectacle has been upped since El Bolero opened, but I do know that the trompo isn’t going anywhere. As Valverde told me via Facebook, “[The] trompo is always going to be there.” While that is a relief, like many with deep love and respect for tacos and Mexican regional cuisines, I was leery of how an Anglo chef—no matter how talented and respectful—would treat the food. Anglo-driven “Modern Mexican” has show more disregard than understanding when it comes to the tradition and history of Mexican food.

During a phone conversation, Tesar went a long way to assure me of his seriousness.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Dallas, Design District, DFW, News, Texas

Taco Stop

Make time for Taco Stop.

Make time for Taco Stop.

There are taquerias I visit for years before writing about them. It’s not that the taquerias are played out or that I want to keep them to myself. Sometimes, when juggling a day job, a family and get-in-the-way adult stuff, I just want to eat at a place I know is good and don’t get around to completing a review. Taco Stop, a two-year-old walk-up joint in the Dallas Design District, has been one of those taquerias. But it’s more than good. Taco Stop is fantastic.

It’s been that way almost since the beginning. Weeks after its 2012 opening, a friend and I dropped into Taco Stop for breakfast and had our ordered bungled. It didn’t matter. An order of Taco Stop’s breakfast tacos are a great way to start the morning, especially if you’re going “all in.” This deluxe breakfast taco is equipped with bell peppers, onions and bacon or chorizo, giving you bites of sweet and salty. A follow-up visit did not disappointment. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under breakfast tacos, Dallas, Design District, DFW, Reviews, Texas

One Shot: Off-Site Kitchen

“One Shot” is an occasional series reviewing non-taquerías’ tacos.

The Design District is coming up in the world—the restaurant world. It began with the 2010 opening of the Meddlesome Moth, a highfalutin gastropub from the team behind the Flying Saucer beer-bar chain (Shannon Wynn, Keith Schlabs, Larry Richardson and co.). When Oak opened in December 2011 near the Moth, critics were floored by the fine-dining destination. Taco Stop served its first eponymous offerings in February 2012. The anticipated October opening of Matt McCallister’s restaurant, FT33, will probably top foodies’ Best Of 2012 lists. Also destined for year-end accolades is Nick Badovinus’ Off-Site Kitchen, a casual luncheonette evoking an Alpine beer hall-fast food joint hybrid. Among the menu items is the much ballyhooed Crispy Sloppy Taco. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Dallas, Design District, DFW, Reviews, Tex-Mex, Texas