Lucky North Dallas

Loca Luna in North Dallas demands a visit if only for corn tortillas

Loca Luna in North Dallas demands a visit if only for corn tortillas

Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna menu includes Mex and Tex-Mex dishes, including this sopes appetizer with three varieties. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna adds a gilt touch to its dining room. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
Chiles rellenos come two to an order. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
Chips come with a trio of sauces, including black bean dip and salsa verde. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
Tacos los cabos are filled with battered, fried mahi mahi. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
A row of lit star pendants forms a glittery curtain in the dining room. Photo by Marc Lee
Loca Luna Mexican
Chile nogales (left) is a signature Loca Luna dish. Photo courtesy of Loca Luna
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican
Loca Luna Mexican

An Arkansas-based restaurant group has opened Loca Luna Mexican Cuisine, its first restaurant in Dallas, in the former Maximo space behind the Galleria, with a menu of fajitas, chiles rellenos and excellent house-made tortillas.

Owners Hector Gomez and Refugio Reyes describe the food as a modern fusion of Tex-Mex, traditional Mexican and continental specials such as rib-eye steak. But the signature dishes are Mexican, Gomez 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 corn tortillas alone are worth the trip. The restaurant buys masa from a local company and makes the tortillas in-house; what's so good about them is that they're extra-thick. The flour tortillas are purchased from Houston-based La Rancherita, and they're good, but definitely order a side of corn tortillas.

Those tortillas were a high point of the fish tacos ($11.95 at dinner), a trio filled with fingers of mahi mahi, dipped in a batter and fried. An accompanying slaw was wilted, but the chile morita — a salsa made from dried red jalapeños — was smoky, with a nice hit of heat. Other taco options include al pastor, chorizo, carnitas and tacos "Governador" filled with shrimp and poblano rajas (in cream).

Chiles en nogada ($16.95) was a rich, elegant dish. A poblano was filled with picadillo, consisting of ground beef cooked with peaches, raisins, apples, carrots and peanuts. Ladled over like a blanket was a thick, creamy white sauce made from ground almonds. Fresh pomegranates and chopped pecans sprinkled on top were as pretty as they were gourmet.

Chiles rellenos ($12.95) had two medium-size chiles filled with cheese and coated in a soft, thin, eggy batter. Getting two to an order meant that you got more chile pepper, which was a good thing: They still had some body and weren't just flaccid green shells enclosing a wad of cheese.

An appetizer of sopes ($9.95), corn discs filled with toppings, could easily serve as an entree. Lined up on a rectangular plate, there were three different kinds: "pulled" chicken, potatoes and chorizo, and brisket with guajillo sauce. The base was a thick, moist disc of corn, its edges fluted up as a rim to contain the filling.

One nice touch is that the complimentary chips come with a trio of dips: chunky mild red salsa, flavorful verde and creamy bean dip. There isn't much in the way of vegetarian dishes; even the spinach enchiladas ($13.95) come with bacon, but you can order them without, and the spinach itself was fresh.

To establish a more casual, comfortable atmosphere, they've added homey furniture such as the leather loveseat and coffee table with flowers in a vase in the center of the dining room. The restaurant also has a number of metal and copper pieces made by artisans from Mexico.

Gomez and Reyes are part of a Little Rock-based group with more than 20 years of experience. They own 22 restaurants across Arkansas and Louisiana, including such concepts as Salsa's Mexican Grill, El Jimador and El Acapulco.