For months we all have been watching the little chicken shack on the corner of Henderson and Central, the gaping mouth of one of the busiest restaurant and bar streets currently in Dallas. What was once a Churches Chicken franchise has now been spiffed up into a taco behemoth that should satisfy most anyone on an all-taco diet. Of course we refer to Velvet Taco.
Velvet Taco is the brain child of long-time restaurateur Mark Brezinski (remember him from such restaurants as Tin Star, Pei Wei, and more recently Bistro Babusan) and the erudite group from Front Burner Restaurants who own Whiskey Cake, Red Dog Right, and the Ranch at Las Colinas.
We know what you are going to ask, are the tacos good? The answer is unequivocally yes. But understand that Velvet Taco is not vying for the buck-spending taqueria crowd. Instead the group is shooting for a higher end palate willing to pay a few more dollars (these babies cost between 2.50 and 4.50 for the largish beasts with a sweet spot resting at 3.50).
For the extra few dollars you will receive an upscale taco that won’t bend your wallet, but instead satisfies your belly’s urge for something a little different than your average al pastor or lengua order.
The ingredients that make these tacos are all top shelf. A tour through the kitchen revealed some unusual ingredients including pea tendrils, sunflower sprouts, watermelon radishes, wild mushrooms and many other high end vegetation.
The list of proteins were equally impressive, and we saw them being brined and marinated in the walk-in cooler. But we also spotted whole chickens and ears of corn roasting on a spit.
The 20 tacos served are definitely chef-driven, but not at a chef price. The sauces are wacky good and the corn tortillas are made in-house under the supervision of chef-consultant from Whiskey Cake, T J Lengnick.
Our favorite was the cornmeal fried oysters dressed with a napa-fennel and radish shred, remoulade, pico, smoked chili butter tucked in a supple corn tortilla (4.50), and the shredded pork, pan scrambled egg, white queso, smoked Poblano salsa, and Mexican oregano served on a flour tortilla (3.50).
The fried paneer, tomato chutney, Thai basil, tikka & raita crema taco blasts the senses as well with many complex layers of flavors.
There are twenty tacos in all with only one side dish – a cup of elotes that harkens with originality, and oddly enough a slice of red velvet cake for their solo dessert.
There are plenty of options in the neighborhood for tacos, but none like those served at the Velvet Taco which we predict will fast become a neighborhood favorite, especially with its close approximation to the bars that keep late hours. The late hours are even later on the weekends, serving around the clock with breakfast options all day.
Beer and wine available during the appropriate hours and they serve boutique blends of soft drinks with the thought of soon making their own.
While discussing all these tacos we found out the team was working on the ability to sell whole fire roasted chickens and corn with a pack of freshly made tortillas to be sold literally out the back door as their answer to the silly In-N-Out secret menu. They need to work out a speakeasy-style knock and a method for passing off the clandestine bird through the alley way, but that will bring another unique perspective to the Velvet Taco.
The name will make you giggle, but Velvet Taco scores a hash mark in the win column. Look for the new restaurant to open today, or possibly manana. Or even Saturday.Velvet Taco 3012 N Henderson, Dallas 214-738-2540