Wild Salsa - The Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2011

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Where to find some of the city's greatest bites to eat.

by Teresa Gubbins Published 11.23.2011

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Mexican | Wild Salsa

While other restaurateurs seem to pretend that downtown Dallas doesn’t exist, Mike Hoque’s Dallas Restaurant Group is busy making its own personal Restaurant Row. DRG has the seafood component with Dallas Fish Market, the steakhouse with Dallas Chop House, and now Mexican with Wild Salsa.

Like Hoque, this place does not lack for ambition. Rather than Dallas-style Tex-Mex, its menu is Mexico City-style Mexican, executed by chef Kelly Hightower. Hightower isn’t from Mexico City, but he’s married to someone who is. A better description of the food might be “high-end Mexican.”

Showpiece entrées include lamb shank barbacoa, roasted for hours until it falls off the bone on which it’s served. Its accompanying salsa borracha is smoky and complex, and the vegetarian poblano tamale on the side is so large that it could serve as a stand-alone entrée (and you can get it that way for $10). Portions are big, and prices can be, too. Guacamole topped with gimmicky strips of bacon costs $10. But Wild Salsa offsets those big-ticket items with tacos that start at $2.50 a pop, featuring a selection that runs from gourmet fillers such as shrimp in chipotle garlic lime butter to traditional items like tongue. Margaritas have a range, too: from the standard $6 frozen to one with cucumber and lime for $8. Salads are fresh and beautifully composed, such as the baby spinach sprinkled with spicy-hot ancho-dusted pecans, crumbled egg, and goat cheese, or the zippy jicama with cucumber and oranges. The mole is extraordinary, with chiles, ground almond, and Ibarra chocolate. The fusion of heat and sweet makes you want to push aside the poblano chicken it’s served with and eat it straight with a spoon.

The restaurant’s Day of the Dead decor and relaxed patio seem like a good fit for its downtown setting, and Hoque isn’t stopping there. He already has an Asian wok spot and a burger joint in the works.