El Palote co-founder opens new vegan Mexican restaurant in North Dallas
A new vegan restaurant serving tacos and Tex-Mex is opening in North Dallas. Called Nuno's Tacos & VegMex Grill, it will open in late July at 8024 Spring Valley Rd., in the same shopping center as a Fiesta supermarket at the southeast corner of Coit Road.
Nuno's will serve Mexican comfort food, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos, all done vegan-style.
The restaurant comes from husband-and-wife Nuno and Vezna Arias, who are well known in Dallas' vegan scene. Nuno is a member of the same Arias family that owns El Palote, the Mexican vegan restaurant in Dallas' Pleasant Grove neighborhood that has earned great acclaim.
In 2018, the couple struck out on their own, hosting a series of pop-ups at vegan-friendly locations, including regular weekend sessions at Dallas Farmers Market.
They've developed a following for dishes such as their signature Tejano BBQ wrap, with BBQ-flavored "TVP" (textured vegetable protein) wrapped inside a tortilla, served with potato salad and ranchero chipotle beans. They're also into traditional Mexico guisados, or stews.
They were a big hit at the 2019 Taco Libre, the annual taco festival, where they were the only vegan vendor.
"We helped start El Palote with my parents, my dad is very passionate about veganism, and cooking has always been a passion for my family," says Nuno, who worked as a banker and commercial lender before returning to the restaurant world.
Like El Palote, Nuno's will have a strong focus on Mexican food, but with a slightly different approach and menu.
"In addition to being vegan, we'll all cater to those who don't want soy or gluten, which are commonly used in vegan cooking," Nuno says. "Instead, we'll use things like jackfruit, huitlacoche, and cactus. And we're making our own vegan cheese in varieties like mozzarella."
They're doing vegan street tacos with vegan fillings that evoke classic meats such as al pastor, deshebrada, bistec ranchero, and fajita. They'll do nopalitos, huitlacoche, barbacoa de flor de Jamaica, and chicken-flavored chipotle jackfruit.
A recent farmers market special featured three tacos with Fearing's-caliber fillings such as:
- fire-roasted poblano rajas with a cashew-sesame seed crema
- slow-smoked TVP BBQ with mac 'n cheese
- chicken-flavored chipotle jackfruit fresco
They've done flautas filled with choice of deshebrada or jackfruit, topped with guacamole sauce, sour "cream," a morita dried chile & grapefruit salsa, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and pickled onions.
One wrap enclosed slow-smoked TVP with a Jack Daniels-blueberry BBQ sauce and mac 'n cheeze, served with jalapeño cheddar corn bread, pickles, and habanero pickled red onions.
The pop-ups were sufficiently popular that they cast their net for a permanent location, preferably in the northern part of Dallas.
"North Dallas doesn't have a lot of vegan options," Nuno says. "Our pop-ups always draw a lot of people from Plano, McKinney, Richardson, and North Dallas, and we decided that was where we needed to be."
They took over the corner spot on a small retail strip which had been home to small restaurants such as Adam's Kabob and El Cajete, did some remodeling, upgraded the equipment, reorganized the kitchen, and cleaned the place up.
They'll open slow and small, with a limited menu, then expand, adding new items such as salads. And one thing they'll share with El Palote: There'll be no artificial ingredients.
There's an opening party set for July 25. Usually, it's risky to announce a date, but Nuno says they're ready to roll. "We've got a great group already working the food," he says.