Some Food Nerds and I had the pleasure of attending a comped preview dinner for the soon-to-open Peak & Elm Cocina y Bar restaurant in the New East Elm neighborhood.
Peak & Elm is the latest venture by The Moreno family who also own the Dallas-favorite La Popular Tamale House. They want diners to know this isn’t another Tex-Mex restaurant in Dallas. This is Mexican-American cuisine that focuses on fresh and local produce.
Located just a few blocks from their Lakewood and Farmer’s Market locations, the restaurant (on the corner of Peak and Elm) is housed in a century-old building in the thriving art community.
Jesse Moreno, Sr. kicked off the evening by telling us about his commitment to freshness. Produce will be from the farmer’s market, there’s no freezer or microwave located in his restaurant and they’ll never use lard. He even said the rice (which was fantastic) that’s left over at the end of the day will be tossed out! A few people offered to take the leftover rice off his hands in the future.
We were surprised when we realized we were not going to have chips and salsa to start. Moreno, Sr. said what’s the point since by the time you get your entrée you’re full and then leave your leftovers to be tossed out. Instead, we got ante comidas (before food) of sliced carrots, jicama, onion and jalapeno marinated in apple-cider vinegar. It was crunchy, fresh and spicy! It was a nice change, but I do wonder if Dallasites (who get peeved when you have to pay for chips and salsa) will be open to this healthier starter.
We also got to try a ceviche made with shrimp and sea bass in a citrus sauce that had a few gluten-free chips tossed in with avocado. The Tacos Tapatio (prime beef rolled in a gluten-free corn tortilla) were served with crema, house cabbage slaw and fresh rice. The meat was flavorful and the corn tortillas were nice and crispy. Then it was on to a chicken and steak fajita tacos in house-made flour tortillas. Both proteins were flavored well and it’s always nice to have handmade tortillas. The onions, peppers and cherry tomato served on the side as garnish were dry and very salty, and sort of tasted a bit like soy sauce. The chunky guacamole and pico de gallo on the side were fresh and very good.
Finally for desert, we were given peach empanadas and a peach cobbler – some other diners had strawberry empanadas. But according to their menu, the empanada filling will change to include seasonal fruits. The peach cobbler was actually just the sweetly spiced peaches you usually find in a cobbler sans the flaky pastry or sugary crumble on top. I was hoping for a bit more on that dish.
All in all, it was a great dining experience. The Moreno family was constantly asking for feedback and ideas on how to make their dishes better. They said they’ll continue to tweak the menu and are excited to bring this contemporary Mexican cuisine to Dallas.
Opening Friday, February 8.
Peak & Elm Cocina y Bar
132 North Peak Street
Dallas, TX 75226