There's a cool, big new bar that has landed in Dallas with tacos, tequila, and a retractable roof. Called Federales, it's a Chicago-based chain with a bro vibe, now open at 2820 Commerce St., the one-time home of Sankofa Cafe at the corner of Malcolm X, where it aims to be the newest addition to Deep Ellum's restaurant and bar scene.
According to a representative from the company, it opened on May 9.
Federales is from Four Corners, a Chicago hospitality group founded in 2001 that encompasses a host of bar concepts such as Gaslight and Sugar Junkie. They opened the first Federales in 2016 in Chicago's West Loop; a second location opened in Denver in 2021.
The menu is centered on tacos including the ultra-trendy birria taco, which they make with lamb, served on Wednesdays and Sundays only.
Other signature tacos include spicy chicken, brisket, pork belly, beer-battered cod, grilled shrimp, and crispy potato, which is a novel option consisting of ancho-spiked Yukon potatoes with chiptle aioli, cheddar, and corn salsa on a corn tortilla. Let's hear it for the tacos without meat.
Classic tacos include carnitas, blackened mahi mahi, pork & pineapple, steak, and barbacoa chicken. A "gringo taco supreme" has seasoned ground beef with iceberg, tomato, sour cream, and cheddar in a hard-shell corn tortilla. There's also a vegan chorizo. Let's hear it for the vegan tacos.
There is also guacamole, Brussels sprouts, chicken taquitos, queso fundido, and smoked brisket nachos, plus a brisket burrito, and smoked chicken enchiladas. Tacos are all about $4 to $7, and the most expensive dish is the enchiladas at $14.
They also do brunch, and it beats everyone else's weekend brunch by running not just Saturday and Sunday but also Friday, from 11 am-3 pm, with steak & egg tacos, a breakfast burrito, chilaquiles, and potato-chorizo hash.
Federales is known for its variety of margaritas — both frozen and classic — including a spicy watermelon version and a frozen tequila rosé.
A lineup of locally-distilled spirits and beers includes vodka from Deep Ellum Distillery, whiskey from Balcones Distilling, gin from Blackland Distillery, and beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Company.
They offer a big selection of tequilas and mezcals, including two private barrel offerings and tequilas organized by age, smokiness. and premium status.
Happy hour runs Monday-Thursday 4-7 pm, with half-priced starters and margaritas.
A separate late-night menu served Friday–Saturday 11 pm–2 am features pork & pineapple tacos, smoked brisket tacos, and barbacoa chicken tacos.
The design is described as "modern industrial" with 2,700 square feet of patio space outside and a retractable roof indoors creating an indoor/outdoor urban oasis. The retractable roof is a Federales signature.
The Deep Ellum location has a mural paying homage to the neighborhood’s street art culture, and they'll host live music on weekends.
But the big thing is The Bell. There's an antique bell — in this case, a cast-iron school dinner church bell from 1886 — that occupies its own little roped-off chamber. They sell tequila shots in glasses made of ice. After you chug the shot, you hurl the glass at the bell, which is perched over a firepit, to try and smash the glass. It's a whole thing.