El Bolero, the new Mexican restaurant by Richard & Tiffanee Ellman and John Paul Valverde quietly opened their doors in the Design District this past weekend with opening executive chef, Hugo Galvan. Owner Tiffanee Ellman tells us that Chef Galvan, who hails from San Miguel De Allende, “is extremely talented and has a deep and personal expertise in creating the regional and authentic flavors that will form the fabric of the El Bolero experience.”
Chef Galvan has spent years cooking and training in kitchens in the U.S. and Europe, but he states that it is his “experience in restaurants and mercados across different regions of Mexico that will be integral to El Bolero’s cuisine.” You will most likely have sampled his cuisine at Café San Miguel on Henderson Avenue, and Hacienda San Miguel in Fort Worth.
We met Galvan this week after a few days of service and he said he was excited to be working with the Apheleia Restaurant Group, and was put to work the very day he was hired to create the opening menu which is simple, creative and packed with flavors. Exactly what you would expect from the group that owns Oak and Pakpao Thai.
The latest Aphelia restaurant is as beautiful as all the others, directly due to the design trust of John Paul Valverde, with beautiful lighting, sleek lines, well appointed pieces of art and his signature kick ass ceiling work. All details were well conceived including the situated open kitchen and a beautifully spaced cocktail and raw bar where the ceviche is made, along with freshly shucked oysters.
The menu is bright as previously suggested with house-made tortillas pressed with house-made masa, a neat trick where many would typically purchase their masa. A blue corn option is also available at a slight up-charge. The same masa is used to make the fresh and hot chips served with the queso fundido, kick ass guacamole (one dining partner said it was the best guacamole she has ever tasted – strong words), ceviche de camaron, and a most delicious tuna tartare.
The very same tortillas are used for a great selection of over-filled tacos made with al pastor from a visible trompo in the kitchen. There the chef shaves off moist slices of roasted pork replete with pineapple drippings and hints of grilled cebolla. This makes for one of the very best tacos you will ever enjoy. Another choice off the taco section is the camarones, or shrimp that is given a treatment of chipotle butter, garlic, sliced avocado, and queso fresco. The shrimp are large, fresh, and have a slight crunch to the bite. Juices from the butter will definitely make their way down your grinning chin, but this can be absorbed with excess bits of tortilla. We also sampled the red snapper tacos which was packed with large chunks of flaky, moist fish. Most likely the best fish taco conceived in Dallas to date.
The shining star elite of the menu is no doubt the beautifully roasted chile relleno de jaiba which is made with healthy amounts of crab meat, crema, cilantro, tomato, asadero cheese, roasted corn relish adorned with a squash blossom mounted in a perfectly roasted chile pod. All this rests on a bed of moist arroz blanco de ajo. A chile relleno is the litmus test for a great Mexican restaurant, and El Bolero does victory laps with their version.
We paraded around the menu, indulging in all we could, leaving a few items to look forward to with our next visit. Desserts will no doubt be ordered first next time. Then we have breakfast and brunch to think about. Also, Fridays promise lobster “fajitas” which includes a large tail sliced and served with a mound of tortillas for a mere $15 during luncheon service.
Cocktails are not an after thought with a large handful of signature drinks to concentrate on, including Bolero’s powerful frozen margarita with the obligatory swirl of sangria. And of course it packs the necessary punch in the eye required to be listed among the great margaritas in Dallas. Another favorite cocktail enjoyed included the blackberry tequila punch made with Patron silver, blackberry, jalapeno, pineapple, lime and agave. Smooth, persnickety and delicious.
We understand that breakfast is served at 7am, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
Bolero is located at 1201 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas. For more information and hours, call them at 214.757.9653.