- Teresa Gubbins, Culture Map

A space in Uptown Dallas in search of the perfect tenant has something promising in the works: Called Toluca, it’s a fresh, healthy Mexican restaurant from TJ Frank, co-founder of Southpaws Grill, and will open at 2600 Cedar Springs Rd., on the ground level of the Gables Villa Rosa building in late fall 2019.

Toluca will feature local, organic, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings, with a goal of being both vegan-friendly and non-vegan-friendly, as well — a place where vegans and non-vegans can eat at the same place, and enjoy great food.

“By using the highest quality ingredients and spices on our modern Mexican menu, we can offer delicious, flavorful food to those who want either a plant-based diet or else a full range of proteins,” says TJ Land, Toluca’s chef.

Their lineup includes salads, tacos, bowls, and burritos, with a versatile approach that includes plenty of options for customizing. They’ll go for local products, and rotate dishes in based on season and availability.

The menu includes items such as:

  • tacos with spicy vegan refried beans, tortilla strips, pico de gallo, and avocado fresca sauce
  • kale salad with quinoa, avocado, crispy tajin-dusted chickpeas, watermelon radish, and red onion in cilantro-lime vinaigrette

All of the dishes start out vegan. Diners then add chef-recommended proteins such as carne asada, ahi tuna, chipotle tofu, crispy avocado, and vegan barbacoa. Gourmet toppings include pineapple salsa, fire-roasted jalapeño ranch, and queso oaxaca.

There’ll be a bar serving organic beers and wines, tequila cocktails, kombucha, and even kombucha cocktails.

The service style will be fast casual in the restaurant, with full service at the bar.

Toluca’s team has lots of experience: Chef Land has more than 20 years in the restaurant business, while Frank has charted 13 successful years with Southpaws Grill. But he felt the urge to try something new.

“I wanted to expand with a new concept that separates itself from traditional Tex-Mex restaurants,” he says. “We have always kept in touch with the trends over the years, and want to offer something unique that Uptown wants.”

Being at the base of the Gables Villa Rosa building seems like it would have a built-in audience of potential diners among the building’s residents. But the space has experienced turnover. One obstacle: parking. There’s parking on the street, but Dallas diners like to see at least three drive-up spaces in front.

The first tenant, Naan Sushi, did okay by offering deep discounts. After Naan left, they tried a food hall, but as is often the case with food halls, the individual operators had trouble staying afloat.

But Frank has relevant experience, having run a Southpaws Grill on the ground floor of the residential high-rise at 3227 McKinney Ave.

He also has confidence in Toluca’s menu. “The spicy vegan barbacoa may change the way you eat forever,” he says.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE