Latin Is Cool

Victor Tangos spot on Dallas' Henderson Avenue gets happy new restaurant-bar

Victor Tangos on Henderson Avenue Dallas gets happy new restaurant-bar

Catalan Calamari
Calamari will be on the menu. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller

A Henderson Avenue address that was formerly home a trailblazing cocktail bar has a new tenant.

The space at 3001 Henderson Ave., which used to be the restaurant-bar Victor Tangos, will become a new restaurant-bar called Felix Culpa. It's from SBBC, the hospitality group whose other concepts include Truth & Alibi, Punk Society, and The Tipsy Alchemist.

For Felix Culpa, they're partnered with Massimiliano Sgarbi, who previously worked with the Lombardi Family Concepts restaurant group, and aim to open in September.

"I helped open Taverna, Toulouse, Fiorentina, and Bistro 31, but Felix Culpa will not be an Italian restaurant," Sgarbi says. "We'll do contemporary New American with a European influence."

A menu has been devised by versatile chef Rodman Shields that includes shared plates/appetizers such as a Kennebec fries tasting with spicy parmesan confetti and black garlic aioli.

Details are still to be resolved, but it includes Italian items such as fritto misto and calamari along with almond-crusted prawnsKobe beef sliders with quail egg and tomato bacon jam, and ahi tuna tostadas with honey-lime ponzu.

There will also be ceviche with snapper, serranos, mango, avocado, and crispy plantains.

As the menu currently stands, it includes pastas such as ricotta ravioli with pecorino and truffle in porcini mushroom sauce; risotto alla carbonara with 90-second egg, English peas, and pancetta; and pappardelle with short rib, buratta, braised onions, crushed tomatoes.

There will also be flatbreads, including a spicy Italian and a bacon-and-egg pizza; cheese and charcuterie boards; and salads such as grilled hearts of romaine with Parmesan crisps and white anchovies.

Entrees include a dry aged burger on a brioche bun, with Camembert cheese truffle aioli, and caramelized onions. Sides include pancetta jalapeño mac and cheese, fried Brussels sprouts, chorizo and manchego potato croquettes, and grilled asparagus with cured egg.

Henderson Avenue has experienced some churn. Victor Tangos closed on New Year's Eve 2017 after a decade, and Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar closed in September 2017 after five years.

But the Victor Tangos space has a lot of built-in good will. They're finishing up construction with a mid-century modern scheme and memorable fixtures — still to be revealed, such a tease — that are designed to be conversation starters.

They're hoping to establish an environment that's truly unique, Sgarbi says — and this is a specialty of theirs at all of their properties, from the graffiti'd walls of Punk Society to the London/Victorian vibe of Ill Minster Pub, the bar at the the Villa Rosa building in Uptown Dallas.

Felix Culpa, Sgarbi says, is Latin for a mistake where the outcome is so good that the mistake is forgiven. This is from a company that calls itself SBBC Hospitium. They love their Latin.

"Our idea is to create a space that flows between the lounge and the restaurant, where it's all seamless, without a distinction between where to eat and where to lounge," he says. "It should feel comfortable, like your living room, but with an expansive menu of appetizers and dishes. You can eat, you can drink, you can come late, you can come early. The idea is to let you do whatever you want."