When the Staycation Met the Taco
Le Taco Cantina-Rated 5 Stars
The first thing you need to know about Le Taco Cantina is, it’s not Mexican food. You may find this hard to believe, considering the name of the place, and some of their specialty cocktails. But, Le Taco Cantina is much more than that. After all, when was the last time you went to a taco joint around town and they were serving grilled octopus, unagi eel, Persian cucumber, wasabi and avocado inside a fresh handmade corn tortilla? Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Conveniently located on Oak Lawn Avenue, Le Taco is the type of neighborhood eatery that is somewhat difficult to describe, but in the best possible way ever. And it would appear that the owner, Mr. Dylan Elchami likes it that way which shouldn’t really come as a surprise since he has a history of creating epic eateries in Dallas. In case you didn’t know Le Taco was once the home of the popular booze and pork chow factory, Scotch and Sausage, but Elchami decided that he wanted to take his establishment into a new direction. Not that the restaurant wasn’t drawing a crowd, in fact Scotch and Sausage was even featured in the New York Times. But, as Dylan explained after talking with people living in the neighborhood, he knew that it was time to create something different. “That concept was really great but a lot of the neighbors didn’t like it when drunk people were walking up and down the street, making noise, so I listened to them,” he explained.
So, Dylan went back to the drawing board, talked to the neighborhood, and took inventory of the eateries on Oak Lawn. All down Oak Lawn, Elchami found Mexican, Asian, French, and Southwestern restaurants. You could say that Le Taco is an eclectic fusion of all these cuisines wrapped up inside a soft freshly made corn shell. “The idea came about because really I wanted to get into street food but elevate it. So unpretentious was the whole thing. It’s great food and it’s stuff that you can see on a fine dining menu,” Dylan explained.
We’ve already talked about the eel and unagi taco, but can we take a moment to pay homage to the Le Oscar? Incredible pieces of tender marbleized Japanese Akaushi beef, sweet and fluffy white lump crab meat, grilled asparagus and topped with both truffle cream and siracha choron. Biting down, the world sort of stands still as the tenderness, crunch and spice satiate your taste buds in an elegant taco. The Le Oscar is $9, but to be fair you’re basically getting a five star meal with all the fixings, wrapped and ready to go.
Of course, Le Oscar isn’t the only winner on the menu. Sweet and crisp, the moo shu duck confit is nothing short of amazing. Tender duck is crowned with fresh napa slaw, snow peas and hoisin sauce. All you need to know about the brisket taco is, the meat is smoked for 20 hours. Can you taste the tenderness yet? All this deliciousness can easily be attributed to the man behind the food, Chef Daniel Tarasevic. Daniel has been in the restaurant game for a while, working at establishments like Sushi Samba, Charlie Palmer, Dallas Chop House and Tillman’s Roadhouse in Fort Worth. When it comes to Le Taco, Dylan says everything is centered around the chef and the taco. He says of Tarasevic, “He owns his kitchen, and he is passionate about his kitchen. I don’t make calls back there.” It only takes eating one taco, or scooping up some of their smoky sweet salsa created using roma tomatoes, guajillo and dried Japanese chili peppers, jalapeño, and serrano in a fresh made extra crispy tortilla chip (chips and salsa are $3 by the way, but completely worth it) to get a better understanding of just how deep the passion in the kitchen runs.
But it doesn’t end in the kitchen. Fresh cocktails are another thing Le Taco is winning at, with signature drinks like the Culture Agreement made with Japanese plum wine, Don Julio Blanco, sake, agave, fresh lime juice and Thai basil. And in case you’re looking for something more exclusive, Dylan has blessed his bar with a number of Tequilas and even several Mezcals that are on the pricier side. Dylan explained that he pushes the Mezcals because of the master craftsmanship behind the products. The bottles are 100% not for profit, and it goes back to the creators of the Mezcal, who typically live in poverty. “Like I said, it’s about the spirit they have. They wake up, 7AM, farm the plant, dig holes, and roast it for two or three days. It takes 8 years to make a bottle of one of these, so they only made 40 of them,” said Dylan.
It’s clear that Elchami wants to maintain a hardworking persevering spirit throughout the entirety of his restaurant. He’s hoping that Le Taco will land a prestigious James Beard Award. And, at the rate the place is going this isn’t a farfetched idea. Dylan continues to stay hands on at Le Taco, greeting people, checking in with the staff, constantly making sure everything is going well. Yet, even with his hands on and business savy approach, he maintains that level of laid back cool, as does Le Taco. Smiling he said, “The two hours that you’re here, we want you to feel like you’re on vacation.” What the staycation and taco have joined together let everyone bite into. TXmb
Where to find them- 2808 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
Phone-(469) 802 6753
That whole parking thing- Well, the parking lot is fairly small and typically they have valet.