There's a new restaurant concept coming to the Dallas Farmers Market from a local restaurant family who've been quietly, industriously building a taco empire.
Called The Reserve, the new restaurant will open in the space at 900 S. Harwood St. that was previously occupied by Mudhen. It will celebrate its grand opening on Friday March 4.
It's from husband-and-wife Gabriel Landa and Monica Reza, founders of the Taqueria Taxco chain, partnered with Vivek Sharma, a friend and supporter who has worked with the couple on some of their taqueria locations.
The Reserve will serve authentic Mexican food, made from scratch, specializing in the food of Taxco, the town south of Mexico City where Monica Reza is from — including elotes and esquites, mole, and especially pozole, AKA hominy stew, incorporating produce from the market nearby.
"At The Reserve, we want to present the very best of what we do," Reza says. "We're encouraging people to come and reserve a spot."
The couple will gather all they've learned from their adventures with Taqueria Taxco and take it to the next level.
They founded Taxco in 2010 inside a small gas station on Ferguson Road in northeast Dallas, featuring family recipes from Reza's mother and grandmother, using top-quality ingredients yet remaining affordable.
"My mother insisted that I would need to learn to cook if I wanted to get married, and taught me all of the family recipes," she says.
Since that first opening, they've expanded to 18 locations, all at gas stations around Dallas-Fort Worth, where they're open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, serving tacos, sopes, quesadillas, tamales, gorditas, rellenos, and enchiladas.
Their signature is their tortas, which they take so seriously that they bake their own sandwich bread.
They're known for for their trompo, featuring pork sliced from a spit and heated on a griddle, tucked into corn tortillas; and for their breakfast tacos and burritos. They earn raves from customers and have also won awards, including a recent nod from the annual Tacolandia festival.
"Our goal has always been for people to try our food — once they do, they realize it's good and like it, that's something we've been able to rely on," Reza says.
Their growth has been completely organic and via word-of-mouth, says Sharma, who has witnessed their expansion.
"When other gas station owners saw how successful the concept was, they'd invite Monica to open a location, and that would bring in a whole new wave of customers," he says.
Along the way, they've learned valuable operational lessons, including opening a commissary kitchen so that Monica and Gabriel did not have to drive around to supervise preparation at every location.
That slow-but-steady approach was one of the things that impressed the Dallas Farmers Market team, says spokesperson Emily Valentino.
"They're a true local business that's grown organically, and that's what the Dallas Farmers Market is about," Valentino says.
For the Taxco team, the farmers market location represents a big next step, with a larger menu, full service, and a full bar. (They're also opening locations of The Reserve in Las Colinas and at Glade Park in Euless.)
"We're excited for the opportunity to explore things like plating and presentation, new menu items, full service, and craft cocktails," Reza says.
Some of their new menu items will skew vegetarian, an area they and chef Christopher Rivera have expanded in recent years, with dishes such as vegan parrillada (fajitas), flautas, and a beautiful chopped salad with avocado.
At the market, they're completing a renovation — one they're doing themselves, of course, because that's how it's always been — and they've already infused the space with a warmth that Mudhen seemed to lack.
"I have a clear vision about the way it should be," Reza says. "I feel that if I put my heart and soul into it, that customers will feel that when they come in."