New restaurant-bar rides Dallas tiki wave with poke and purple flair
Dallas has seen a few stabs at tiki, a trend that may never fully take hold. It remains to be seen if we'll ever truly be tiki territory. But surely there's room for the subtle touch of Hawaii crossed with Japan soon to be unveiled at Purple Tako, a restaurant and bar opening at Austin Ranch, the master-planned community in The Colony, west of the Dallas North Tollway, in early spring.
Purple Tako comes from a team that includes Sean Conner, the mixology veteran who helped open Victor Tangos on Henderson Avenue (now closed). He's since opened Pie 3.14 Everyday Eatery, the Lewisville pizzeria with the odd punctuation; as well as TBD Kitchen, a Latin restaurant next door.
Tako, which is Japanese for octopus, is going into the space where Cafe Gecko used to be, at 6855 Windhaven Dr. (Cafe Gecko moved.) Chef Kyle Jones will oversee a cuisine that's a mix of Japanese and Hawaiian fare. Ryan Kinkade is leading the beverage program, with a mix of classic and tiki cocktails.
The tiki thing is not them just following a trend, but instead reflects Conner's personal experience.
"It's tiki conceptually, but it's not going to be kitschy," he says. "We're doing a cool build-out with sophisticated lighting and nice tropical touches. I used to live in Hawaii, I loved living there, and saw the Japanese influence. This gives us a chance to play on both those things."
Conner was previously considering doing a poke shop at Legacy Hall, the food hall in Plano, and has used some of that expertise on a menu that includes poke bowls, coconut fried shrimp, and karaage, aka Japanese fried chicken.
"We even have a Japanese influence at the bar," he says. That means sakes and a beer list with Japanese and Hawaiian beers. Cocktails will be made with fresh juices and house-made cordials and bitters. They'll also offer a selection of Japanese whiskey, another hot trend.
Conner says that every facet of the restaurant, from the arrangement of the tables to the arrangement of the menu, is designed to encourage conversation and communion.
"There are small plates which can be snacks at the bar, shared with friends, or combined to make a meal," he says. It's part of his mission in the suburbs.
"We want to be in a neighborhood like this, where there's a large number of apartments and townhomes, with people who want to get out without getting out," he says. "To have something this convenient fills a real void. We want to cook for the community."