In this week's review I take a look at Komali, the contemporary restaurant that promised big Mexican flavors but delivered only timid tastes. When Anastacia Quiñones took over the pass earlier this year, I was excited to see how things would change at the restaurant. Previous meals presented Mexican dishes that felt dumbed down, under-spiced and, frankly, a little boring. Six months into her tenure, not much has changed, and I find myself looking for interesting Mexican cooking elsewhere.
Enter Stephan Pyles and his overactive Mexican twitter feed. The chef has been traveling around Mexico eating goat-head tacos, buying grasshoppers and talking huitlacoche trash in preparation for his soon to open Stampede 66. He even tweeted that he'd found a grinder for making tortillas the old fashioned way -- a practice Komali neglects. "Think I could sell tacos de chipolines in Dallas," Pyles asks in another tweet?
He's got his work cut out for him.
Certainly I'd eat tacos stuffed with crickets every time I visited his new restaurant. I love the crunchy texture, the way the legs comically get caught in your teeth and the rich, nutty flavor of tacos de chipolines. I'd bet you Jose over on the Taco Trail and his readers would eat a few hundred too.
But then what?
Stampede 66 is stuck in the middle of Uptown, where many diners think eating spicy salsa is a gamble. What are they going to think about tacos stuffed with tongues, faces, and corn infected with fungus that looks like smoker's lung?
I'm hoping Stampede 66 takes a stand, and makes a concerted effort to offer a menu that embraces adventurous ingredients in a way that expands the palates of its customers instead of pandering to them. But the only way it's going to work is if the food is well-executed, and the customers who come in actually order the menu items. In other words Aters: it's time to eat some bugs.