After meeting a date at The Pearl Cup, we happened to be strolling down Henderson when my bright eye noticed the Velvet Taco I had read so much about. The reviewers seem to be in a tizzy about this place. There was even a review about how many reviewers are writing about it. They're not quite reviews, just buildup and excitement about the coming of this place to Dallas. Velvet Taco only opened last Thursday, according to the Manager we spoke with, so it's been open a little over a week.
Perhaps all the excitement is due to the name. Maybe Texans just can't contain themselves when they hear there's a fusion taco place coming their way. Then again, it's more likely that the buildup has something to do with the co-owners of the joint.
Mark Brezinski, one of the co-owners, also founded Tin Star, Pei Wei, and Bengal Coast. He was also involved with Genghis Grill, a place I was always quite fond of. Marks' partner is a group called Front Burner Restaurants. They own Twin Peaks, Whiskey Cake, Red Dog Right, and The Ranch. John Franke, the man responsible for the recipes at Velvet Taco, is the corporate chef of Front Burner Restaurants.1
I'm not a huge taco fan, so I'm not going to be one going for the traditional al pastor pork tacos. Not that I'm sure their pulled pork tacos are prepared in the al pastor style. Yes, somehow I even end up reading too much about the styles of food I'm not a fan of.. maybe I still hold out hope for tacos. I do like quesadillas. Anyways, the non-traditional aspect of this place is part of what appealed to me.
Keeping on par with that line of thought, I ordered the Ahi Poke (Raw) with ginger-soy vinaigrette, avocado, watermelon radish, picked Fresno peppers, sesame seeds, and pea tendrils, all inside a lettuce shell. When I ordered it, I didn't realize the taco would come in a lettuce shell, but I thought that was awesome. I'm a big fan of things that make my meals healthier and don't decrease the deliciousness factor. In fact, I actually prefer the taste of a lettuce shell to every taco I've ever had. Then again, maybe that's just me. I'm also a fan of raw tuna (or salmon, and so on..) so I quite enjoyed my taco. I was worried about it being a bit spicy, so I asked. The woman at the cash register said it wouldn't be, and that was the case. My taco didn't have an especially amazing preparation of raw tuna, but it was enjoyable.
|Mine on the left, his on the right|
My date got the Grilled Adobe Shrimp taco with applewood bacon, roasted corn & avocado pico de gallo, epazote (a Mexican herb), and sriracha aioli. This taco came in a homemade corn tortilla. The sriracha aioli would make me hesitant (whereas my brother drenches all his food with it), but I had a bite and it actually wasn't all that spicy. The corn tortilla was pretty good, and homemade is certainly an improvement over any place that buys them pre-made. The taco overall was pretty good. Edible and whatnot. However, it wasn't anything that really blew me away.
For my concluding remarks on the tacos, the main event, I enjoyed my tuna taco, but honestly, it doesn't seem like one that would be difficult to make at home. I give them credit for serving some more interesting versions. I'd come back for a taco. I certainly wouldn't waste my time ordering the shrimp taco. The reviews I've read seem to rant and rave about the Cornmeal Fried Oysters taco. I have a feeling it would be standard, but you could try it if you're in the area.
I think I'll stick to my lettuce tacos. So that means next time there will be a Wild Mushroom taco on my plate. It comes with herbed goat cheese, onion chutney, purple potatoes, and sunflower sprouts. It sounds pretty good (other than the potatoes but I'll live). Again, not life changing. But pretty good. The Grilled Flank Steak on a corn tortilla with portobello, white queso, red onion, and Mexican oregano also sounds tasty.
They only serve one side - the corn elotes. So of course I had to get it (even though I'd already seen a picture of the corn where it looked like it was just covered in cream..). The corn was actually better than I expected. Instead of being covered in cream, we received corn kernels topped by crumbled cheese and a lime. It was aok. Not great but good. We didn't finish it.
There is also only one dessert. Red velvet cake. I was going to get it until I saw the cake. It just didn't look all that appealing. I found myself contemplating whether they have a red velvet cake since their name Velvet Taco, a name that elicits many mature giggles, but I think the red velvet cake is just a Southern thing.
The manger we spoke with said the name wasn't meant to elicit these giggles. The name was sprung from a retro theme. He pointed out their lamps and vintage speakers. He did point out that some of the other places under the Front Burner Restaurants name are supposed to be a play on words. Like Whiskey Cake.
The margarita was delicious. The guy we were speaking to (I think his name was Bryan, or perhaps Ryan) used to be a bartender. He developed the recipe, along with another woman there, using a sorbet base. The sweetness is supposed to cover the taste of tequila and make the margarita appealing to a broader range of people. Even for those who love the taste of tequila, you will love this maragrita.
Of course, they only serve alcohol in the appropriate hours. There were various other beers and flavored sodas. Some of the sodas looked interesting.
The ultimate goal is for Velvet Taco to be open 24 hours a day. At the moment their hours are more open. They stay open til around 11 PM and hope to add lunch soon. Breakfast will come after that. Tacos are pretty cheap. It's a good idea to load up here after or during some drinks. That's why their location is at the place it's at.
Henderson and 75
3012 N. Henderson Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206
1Hiller, Mike. "Update:Velvet Taco To Open This Week." EscapeHatchDallas. 1 August 2011. 14 August 2011. <http://escapehatchdallas.com/2011/08/01/velvet-taco-to-open-wednesday-august-2>.