A new restaurant called Loca Luna Mexican Cuisine comes to Dallas from Arkansas, with a fusion of Tex-Mex and Mexican food.
The restaurant will open in the former Maximo space, which shut down in March 2014. The opening is set for the first week of November, says Hector Gomez, co-owner along with business partner Refugio Reyes.
Gomez and Reyes are part of a Little Rock-based group with more than 20 years of experience. They own 22 restaurants all over Arkansas and Louisiana, including such concepts as Salsa's Mexican Grill, El Jimador and El Acapulco. For their entry into the Dallas area, they decided to debut the Loca Luna Mexican name.
"We've wanted to expand into Texas," Gomez says. "What I want to offer is a modern fusion of Tex-Mex food and traditional Mexican dishes like mole, cochinita pibil and chiles en nogada. Our chorizo will be house-made, and we'll make our own corn tortillas in house. Our enchiladas will be hand-dipped and rolled."
Chef Irma Ayala is from Mexico, and she knows international cuisine as well — knowledge they'll make the most of on their menu.
"What we want to do besides our regular menu is offer a special every week, like paella or a French dish," Gomez says. "That's the uniqueness we have. Next to flautas and queso fundido, we have a cowboy rib-eye. We want to offer different dishes to whatever the community likes, besides Mexican food. We have that versatility."
That said, the signature dishes are Mexican, he says. "There's our enchiladas poblanas, enchiladas Mexicanas — one with chile guajillo and sour cream sauce and the other with tomatillo sauce," he says. "We have a lot of tacos, and we make our mole in-house."
The shopping center near Galleria Dallas, where Loca Luna is opening, hasn't had great luck, suffering closures such as Go Fish, Capriccio, La Perla, Aquadora and, most recently, Maximo. Gomez is not cowed.
"The location is great," he says. "It is a little hidden, but you're surrounded by offices and law firms and the Galleria, and there's apartments on top of us. I know the previous guys did not have much success, but I'm confident that we will."
To establish their uniqueness, they've executed changes in the restaurant's decor and façade.
"We brought two artists from Mexico who work with metal and copper," Gomez says. "We're incorporating a lot of copper with a hammered finish. We've also added a fountain and a fire pit, and we have made new furniture for the patio."
The overall vibe will be more casual, as well. "There'll be fine dining but we want everyone to feel comfortable," he says. "We want to offer good quality but not as expensive."