That neighborhood description might be off, though. We’re talking “lower” than that, closer to Palapas: a place our critic Brian Reinhart isn’t dying to visit, but one I personally love, TBH.
So here comes Nick Badovinus’ Desert Racer, something we’ve all been awaiting for a while and finally opened its doors last week.
I stopped in last week, instantly knew a former elected official in the waiting area (another sign besides the crowd that this was *the* place to be) then was quickly recognized by some staff members. But we got a look at the menu, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. That, and to share a few words from Badovinus himself.
“What we were trying to capture was a multitude of places, nothing specific but specific generalities that created a space that allows you to get a three-hour vacation you can Uber to,” Badovinus says.
Menu-wise, you see a lot: enchiladas, tots (of course), burgers (with crinkle cuts!), entrees such as half chicken al carbon and a whole lot more. It’s a physically big menu dense with food.
As for cocktails, the Tucson is essentially an Old-Fashioned, though utilizing Aztec mole bitters ($12). There’s a sangria section — something we wouldn’t mind seeing in more restaurants — with white, rose and red options ($10). The red is fine, though rather spritzy, with pomegranate, rhubarb bitters, brandy, lemon and (lots of) soda.
“I don’t know that I did a bunch of research necessarily, it’s a style of eating that I’ve kind of enjoyed my whole adult life from parts of the country that I'm super familiar and from a style of cooking, in terms of dry chile and smoke, and over open fire. ... It’s what brought me here,” Badovinus says, pointing to Dean Fearing. “That style of food has always been really near and dear to my heart.”
“It was available and had kind of a large footprint, it had kind of a freestanding identity to it, the parking situation was great especially for East Dallas, the Greenville area, but really it offered the opportunity to do something as the compound,” he says. “I wanted to have a huge indoor space and a lot of outdoor space and [where we] could create something that could live both indoor and outdoor with an expression for each.”
Physically, there’s no question this beyond-Lowest Greenville spot has that down.
It just took a long time: Word was this spot was to open months ago and many anxiously awaited the next Badovinus venture.
“We never really set a timetable, we leave that more for other people to determine. We had a time that we would’ve preferred. But the project, in terms of the physical characters, really evolved, and it’s a big space, and that stuff takes time,” Badovinus says.
“The effort it takes to get a place open, obviously, is quite sizable and immersive and stressful and all of those things, then the hard part starts,” he says. “It’s nice to have crossed the Rubicon and to the taking care of customers and working for the ergonomics of a big space and kind of figuring it all out, it’s certainly the biggest thing we’ve tried to take on, and that’s the fun of it.”
Desert Racer, 1520 Greenville Ave. (East Dallas)