DRG Concepts has opened Wild Salsa, a new regional Mexican restaurant that is bringing the flavors and culture of Mexico City to the heart of downtown Dallas and to the Metroplex. Wild Salsa is located at the corner of St. Paul and Main Street, on the first level of The Mercantile.
What's different about Wild Salsa? The concept is going deep into the authentic traditions of Mexico City with ingredients that are fresh and mostly local from Texas. And the chef-driven concept is bringing regional Mexican recipes to consumers at a reasonable price.
DRG Concepts' President Mike Hoque saw a need for Mexico City's cuisine in the Dallas restaurant marketplace in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.
"We are providing great recipes inspired by Mexico City and Mexico in a new concept and experience that isn't simply a taqueria, but also isn't too formal in the direction of fine dining," Hoque says. "We're also excited about putting a fresh experience of food that is affordable and adds to the quality of life for the growing Downtown residential community.”
Wild Salsa's location in The Mercantile is part of DRG's continuing growth in downtown Dallas, where the residential and business community continue to build. DRG is bringing more dining to add to the restaurant and exciting retail mix at The Mercantile.
DRG Corporate Chef AJ Joglekar has recruited a culinary team led by Executive Chef Kelly Hightower, who has a particular interest and experience in the foods of Mexico. He has traveled the country extensively, and his wife is from Mexico City. Hightower has been noted in Dallas and in Texasfor his leadership with the successful Nova, Hattie's, and Tei Tei dining concepts, as well as for leadership on the culinary team at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.
Chef Hightower and DRG Corporate Chef AJ Joglekar have designed the menu collaboratively. The Wild Salsa culinary team will be using ingredients from across Texas, with emphasis on locally grown produce. Beef, pork, and poultry will come from Texas growers and providers, with some from sources in North Texas. The priority is all about fresh ingredients.
"We've done a lot of research, in the US and abroad, studying various interpretations of regional Mexican," says Nafees Alam, DRG vice president of operations. "I've been traveling in Mexico to study the various culinary traditions and approaches to food and drink. Mike and all of us on the leadership team have worked together to create an experience at Wild Salsa that everyone will love, with features like fresh and local ingredients, becoming all the more important to consumers."
The Wild Salsa lunch and dinner menu features star recipes including:
Chori Queso, house made chorizo, sizzling Oaxaca cheese, fresh tortilla; Toasted Panela Queso, roasted corn, charro black beans, pico, red-pepper chimichuri; Pozole Verde, shrimp and bay scallops, hominy in a mild green chili broth; Lamb Shank Barbacoa, slow roasted, salsa borracha, tamale of poblano, panela cheese, fire-roasted corn; Pan-seared Duck Breast, sweet potatoes, grilled corn and nopales salad, duck chicharron, pasilla chili sauce; Beef Tenderloin Sabana, with Adobo potatoes, Oaxaca cheese, spinach, cumin onion confit, roasted garlic jus; and Gulf Redfish a la Plancha, spice-rubbed, black bean sauce. The menu also features savory and sensational tamales, tacos, quesadillas, tortas, enchiladas, Chef's specials, along with guacamoles, ceviches, taquitos – and salsas, of course. Prices on the menu will range from $5 for starters, to $28 for entrees.
The interior of Wild Salsa has been designed with combined colorful, natural, and textural elements of energy and relaxation, with refreshing tones that reflect Mexican heritage. Dallas-based Lucid, led by Rene Gracia, worked with Hoque and the DRG Concepts team on the exterior and interior design.
The space has an energy of its own with its unique atmosphere and upbeat music. Not only are ingredients in the restaurant's menu locally grown and cultivated, but many of the interior elements have been found and salvaged from local buildings throughout the city (composed with modernistic qualities of today). The warm brown tones of the stucco exterior, appointed with welcoming lanterns all around the corner property, create an invitation to the restaurant with charming old-world tradition and modern style. The entrance doors, set beneath the fresh Wild Salsa logo, came from the lounge of the nearby historic Dallas Grand Hotel, as did the chairs in the Wild Salsa dining room and various elements of wood decor.
Colorful elements of the interior decor are inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, traced back to the indigenous cultures in which people gather with their favorite foods and beverages and celebrate family. The skull (colloquially called calavera) is a common symbol of the holiday. Like the holiday, Wild Salsa also conveys a sense of celebration, continuation of life and culture. In addition to food, other beverages – most commonly tequila – are a focus for festivity toasting and drinking.
Even a take on José Guadalupe Posada's famous print he called La Calavera de la Catrina (The Skeleton of the Female Socialite) is a main focal point and can be seen as an exposed mural in the main dining hall. This stunning artwork was created by Lucid's Rene Gracia, along with local artists Gary Buckner and his mother Judy Buckner.
Wild Salsa is located at 1800 Main Street, Suite 100, Dallas.