A new taqueria opening in North Dallas promises to be something pretty special. Called Public Taco, it will open at the northwest corner of Preston Royal Village, specifically 5959 Royal Ln., in the space next to Spec's that was previously occupied by Papa John's.
Public Taco comes from restaurateurs Joon and Michelle Choe, entrepreneurs who previously founded the Freshfin Poke concept, now closed.
"We've been working on this idea for a year now, and we were excited to get this spot," Choe says. "This is the same intersection that was recently affected by the tornado. The southeast corner was hit especially bad but they've been rebuilding, and the community support has been inspirational."
Slated to open in early 2020, Public Taco will have delicious and amazing tacos with chef-crafted gourmet ingredients, complemented by an innovative cantina. But Choe says that it also has a core mission: to uplift the community.
"We wanted to see how we could make a positive impact," he says. "On this project, we're partnering with organizations such as Pivot Group, who provide opportunities for first-time offenders, single moms, and others who need a hand to wipe the slate clean and find rewarding opportunities."
"The Public Taco brand was built on this, with a core mission of changing lives by providing an amazing support system," he says. "The system is broken, and I would like to help make a change in our industry and provide assistance to those in need."
As for the menu, Choe developed it himself; he just happens to be a graduate of the esteemed Culinary Institute of America.
"The big thing is that the food will be market fresh," he says. "We'll always rely on what's in season and what's good. That means guacamole smashed to order and tortillas made daily. Delicious food, made fresh, and at a great value – those are the three most important components. We won't have caviar. It'll be affordable."
The "cantina" part is also important.
"At the end of the day, this is a marriage of a fast-casual style restaurant but with a full bar – we want it to have that bar component," he says.
He's still tweaking the details, but he's finalized a few dishes he's willing to share.
"There's a corn and truffle taco," he says. "It's a fried corn fritter that rests on a bed of esquites, with avocado and truffle aioli. We'll offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas."
"And we have one that's perfect for brunch," he says. "It's called rosemary pappas — it's a double-fried Russet potato with rosemary ranch and pecorino cheese, served on a flour tortilla."
Carnivores calm down, because there's one with pan-seared rib eye, onion, cilantro, and lettuce greens, topped with caramelized kimchi and siracha aioli.
Choe says they didn't "need" to open a restaurant. "But we wanted to build a brand with a DNA that will attract people who want to join in on our mission," he says.