Signs of life from Herrera's, the much-loved Tex-Mex chain that left Maple Avenue not long ago, was recently spotted by a tipster in West Dallas on Sylvan Avenue, not far south of the river. I called owner Nora Ontiveros but she didn't answer. Maybe she's busy, you know, resurrecting an entire restaurant.
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I couldn't wait so I zipped across the Sylvan Avenue Bridge. Just past the black skid marks of what looked like to be NASCAR-worthy doughnuts, I saw it. "The original Cafe Herrera's, Coming Soon," the banners read. How soon depends on that COO permit taped to the door.
When the restaurant is finished, it should easily best the Maple Avenue location that was hastily vacated when the lease ran out. This address used to host Cocina Caliente, a Mexican seafood restaurant that closed last spring. The dining room doesn't look as big as the old one through the windows, but you'll probably want to spend most of your time outside anyway, as a massive patio fronts the restaurant.
The dining room is sparsely filled with furniture, but a delivery truck dropped off plastic-wrapped kitchen equipment yesterday. Since Ontiveros is working with an existing restaurant space it's possible she could open in a matter of weeks if everything goes smoothly.
When she does, she'll have her work cut out for her. The corner of Sylvan Avenue and McBroom Street isn't exactly a bustling part of town, and cultivating a following from the neighborhood will be a little more difficult than she's used to. Still, it's obvious the same loyal customers featured in news stories about the closure will show up not long after the restaurant opens. And if past is prologue, they will eat with abandon.