Suffering a surprising shortage of restaurants, the Lake Highlands neighborhood is about to get an independently owned taqueria. Resident Taqueria opens later this summer at the Lake Highlands Plaza Shopping Center, at Walnut Hill Lane and Audelia Road.
Owners Andrew and Amy Savoie live in the neighborhood and became inspired after realizing there were few taquerias nearby. Andrew, a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas for the past nine years, has previously worked at restaurants such as Jean Georges in New York, Hugo's in Maine and Bouchon in Yountville, California.
He takes a chef's perspective toward tacos while drawing inspiration from Mexican cuisine. "I'm not claiming to be strictly a Mexican taqueria, no way," he says. "But after moving here, Mexican food became what I ate every day, and I started to appreciate everything about it."
He's driven by flavors, the ingredients and technique.
"I'm huge into the idea of simplicity; I don't think you have to overcomplicate," he says. "If you go back to your traditional taquerias, it's often just the tortilla and braised meat. I'm looking to bring out the natural flavors. If I'm going to serve a pork belly taco, I want you to experience the pork belly."
Resident's menu includes tacos with chicken, short ribs, pork belly, tempura striped bass, and chorizo with onion and potato. There are two signatures: chicken with pickled nopales, hominy and ancho aioli, and pork shoulder with pineapple, cabbage and guajillo.
There are two intriguing vegetarian tacos, including one — cauliflower with kale, pepita and lemon-epazote aioli — inspired by a recipe Andrew learned at Jean Georges.
"There's a caramelized cauliflower that Jean Georges does with sea scallops, and I just love the caramelization of cabbages," he says. "When cauliflower is caramelized, it gets this incredible texture and sweetness."
The other vegetarian taco has mushroom with poblano pepper, Oaxaca cheese and a walnut sauce that draws on the legacy of the creamy walnut sauce that often accompanies chiles rellenos. Although most restaurateurs settle for the prototypical portobello, Savoie will rotate mushroom variety based on what's in season or available.
"I want to keep it open so that we might use some great maitake mushrooms, or oysters or even morels if they're available," he says.
He's way into his sides, which include guacamole, cabbage salad, bean salad, street "esquites" (corn), an especially garlicky rendition of pinto beans and a unique dish called Mexican fried rice.
"That came from my mother-in-law," he says. "We frequently do a fried rice to clean out leftovers from the refrigerator. Mexican rice often has peas and carrots, and I'm big on crispy rice. It was a combination of all these ideas."
Tortillas are a major deal, one that he researched lengthily before deciding on wheat.
"If you want to do corn tortillas the right way and not just from masa, it requires a lot of machinery," he says. "I decided flour was going to be my vehicle. But it'll be a nice, thin tortillas, not rubbery or gummy, and it'll be made to order."
The location is still under construction, but Andrew says they're hoping for an August opening. He recalls that it was a need for breakfast tacos that gave them the final push.
"My wife and I were at a soccer game with our kids, and we wanted breakfast tacos but didn't want to go across town," he says. "We have La Michoacana and Good 2 Go and other places that are 15 minutes away.
"I live in Lake Highlands North, and there's nothing convenient. It was the a-ha moment."