“We are not an authentic taqueria, I want everyone to know that,” says Andrew Savoie, chef and owner of Resident Taqueria. “I like the term inspired Mexican cuisine, because I am inspired by Mexican cuisine. We build tacos based on flavors that work well together. There is no reason to go outside of the box, flavors are there for a reason.”
This is one of the things I like about Resident Taqueria, that they know who they are as a restaurant. In a time where the words “authentic” and “traditional” are often put up as neon signs out front to attract taco hunters, only to lead to disappointment, it's nice knowing what to expect before going in. Located in the Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas, Resident is a great taqueria, but it's not a hole in the wall. The place is stylish, the menu touts a range of vegetarian tacos, and there is nothing wrong with that.
While the flavor profiles might not be out of the box from a chef’s perspective, the tacos are certainly different from what you will find elsewhere. Pecan smoked chicken with pickled sofrito, crushed peanuts and salsa macha; glazed pork belly with cucumber, pickled slaw and agave glaze; braised beef short rib with onion, tomato confit and chipotle creama; Argentine red shrimp with blistered cherry tomatoes, and emulsified chimichurri sause to name a few. And let’s not forget the veggies; caramelized cauliflower with crispy kale, pepitas, and lemon epazote aioli; slow cooked mushroom with poblano chiles and almond salsa, and their non-traditional guacamole with garlic infused oil and English peas (don’t get mad about it until you try it). Then there's the handmade flour tortillas, not the thick chalky ones we've all had with fajitas, but thin, almost transparent, straight from the press tortillas. Easily the best flour tortillas I've had since Sonoratown in Los Angeles.
Savoie’s interest in culinary experiments and flavor combinations is no surprise. Originally from New York, he got his degree in Culinary Arts from Baltimore International College and began to make his way around the country through the fine dining scene. Savoie has worked in kitchens from New Orleans to Napa to New York before eventually making his way to Dallas in 2003. “In 2003 the food scene in Dallas as awful,” Savoie says. “Just Tex Mex, just chain restaurants. I didn’t want to work for a place that had no passion." So he took a break and sold wine for a few years before becoming a Culinary Instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas, a position he held for 9 years. “I was trained in French cuisine, Latin cuisine was completely different, all I knew was cilantro and lime,” Savoie laughs. He started researching Latin cuisine in preparation for a new class he would be teaching and quickly fell in love with it. “When you bite into something, your palate wants to be hit in different ways, and Mexican cuisine does that. I could eat and eat and eat and not get tired of it.” Savoie has since studied the Mexican culinary tradition extensively, and while few items on Resident's menu are traditional, he very familiar with it, even winning best traditional taco at Tacolandia Dallas last year (along with best vegetarian taco).
As a hyper local place, the residents have a lot of say of what goes on the menu. The main menu board hasn’t changed in three years, if something goes missing the neighborhood asks for it until they get it back. “We have specials so I won’t get bored,” Savoie explains. “I like to serve things that I can teach people about.” Like the rotating selection of tequila and mezcal, for example. He's taught a lot of his meat loving customers to come back for the veggie tacos too; the cauliflower and kale taco rutinely outsells all the other tacos.
While there are now six new taco spots opening up within a few blocks of Resident, when it opened three years ago there was nothing in the area. Savoie wanted to create a place for the people in their neighborhood to get tacos. The community is proud of the place, they know it exists for them. 95% of the customers who walk are regulars who live in the immediate vicinity, Savoie greets them by name when they come in; they chat like neighbors do. “I know I could make more in a more high volume area," says Savoie. "But this is a taqueria from my neighborhood, and that’s what I want it to be.”
Resident Taqueria is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday 7am to 10:30am, lunch and dinner from 11:00am to 9pm. Curbside Taco Tuesday Family Meal special every Tuesday. For more about Resident Taqueria visit www.residenttaqueria.com and be sure to keep up with them on Instagram @residenttaqueria