There's culinary action brewing in Dallas' West Village with an award-winning chef turning out some amazing Mexican food. It's a new restaurant pop-up called
Mexican Test Kitchen, located at 3699 McKinney Ave. #307, and it stars Matt McCallister, one of Dallas' most high-profile chefs.
Mexican Test Kitchen is the working title for a new concept in the works between McCallister and restaurateur Mike Karns, who recently took ownership of the West Village. It occupies the space that was previously Honest Tacos (and before that, Taco Diner); Honest Taco
closed in April.
For now, they are doing a pop-up, with a menu that McCallister has designed, featuring tacos, bowls, and salads, plus inventive margaritas.
"I didn't want to see the West Village get hurt with the closure of a restaurant, so we mobilized our team and opened Mexican Test Kitchen as a pop-up," Karns says.
Their plan is to be open this summer with an interim menu of dishes they are developing, while they reconcept and redesign the space.
"It'll still be Mexican but leaning a little more healthy than Tex-Mex — more like healthy Mex, with a lower price point and a little more casual," Karns says. "We feel like it will bring some energy to West Village."
McCallister is the award-winning chef who at age 31 founded FT33, an acclaimed restaurant in the Design District. It earned numerous accolades both locally and nationally in magazines such as Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. He followed that up with Homewood, a restaurant he opened on Oak Lawn Avenue in 2019, which made Texas Monthly's Best New Restaurant list in 2020, and Best New Restaurant in CultureMap's 2020 Tastemaker Awards.
McCallister is now working with Karns' Local Favorite Restaurants group (El Fenix, Snuffer's, Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana, Tulum, Village Burger Bar, Jalisco Norte, Twisted Root) full time. He joined following the untimely closure of Homewood in February.
"When Homewood closed, I reached out to Matt," Karns says. "He works with us now as well as Alex Urrunaga (Plan B Group, Reach Restaurants)."
That team will help create their fun new concept. Karns says they'll close the pop-up in late August, then re-open in September after the remodel is complete.
"Mike is a super cool guy, it's kinda crazy I get to work for him," McCallister says. "At the end of the day I just want to contribute my slice of the pie to Mike's vision for the company."
Those craving McCallister flavors can meanwhile enjoy the current pop-up menu featuring:
- Citrus pig with citrus-braised carnitas, griddled onions, pineapple, cotija cheese, & mint
- Brisket, barbacoa style with rajas, blistered corn, & chipotle mayo
- Asada Steak with cilantro, caramelized onion, peanut salsa macha
- Grilled chicken with smoky chipotle marinade, chiles toreados
- Habanero lime shrimp with pickled red onion & watermelon radish
- Tempura cod with Mexican tartar sauce, & green cabbage crunch
- Griddled Camote (sweet potato) with goat cheese, toasted pepita sprinkle, charred green onions
- Mexican mushroom with caramelized creminis, maitakes, trumpets, & oyster mushrooms, griddled onion, cilantro, & watermelon radish
Chips & queso feature a pale whipped queso fresco with peanut salsa macha and pumpkin seed crunch. Guacamole comes topped with pomegranate and toasted pistachio.
Salads and bowls include a beautiful ensalada rossa with wild arugula & matchstick beets; a “shades of green” salad with hearty greens, spinach, tri-color quinoa, crispy chickpeas, avocado, roasted corn, dried cranberries, & green Carognola olives; and a Ranchero bowl with black beans, white rice, sweet potato, marinated beets, crispy Brussels sprouts, Mexican kimchee, hearty greens, & mojo.
If all that's not enough, everything's crazy-cheap: Tacos come in at $4-5, and salads and bowls at $12.