Rusty Fenton, The Pioneer Behind Rusty Taco, Has Passed Away

News broke yesterday that Dallas' own Rusty Fenton passed away after a three-year battle with renal cancer. He was 53. Fenton was not only a brilliant restaurateur and as kind as he was creative, but he was also a family friend for many, many years. Fenton's Monday morning passing brought about a wash of memories from a time before Rusty Taco's Dallas domination, when Fenton and my own foodie folks worked together at Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, conjuring up new concepts to feed Dallas' growing, and now insatiable, appetite for all things savory.

Fast forward a few years and through dozens of research and development meetings and messy test kitchens, and the landscape of Dallas' food scene has undoubtedly been shaped by Fenton's ingenuity and heart.

Uncle Julio's and Rusty Taco, Star Canyon and Taqueria Cañonita, Timpano and Trader Vic's, and everything else in which Rusty Fenton had input have become a part of Dallas' identity. We love tacos (especially for breakfast), we love upscale dining that is still uniquely Texan, we love margaritas in any form, we love kitschy Hawaiian feasts, and we really love fluffy flour tortillas filled with buttery fajita meat and spicy accessories.

Dallasites know exactly what that glittery yellow moon hanging over the Tollway has in store for us, and we devour it with gusto. Not only do we love it, it's who we are. We are Uncle Julio's, we are Rusty Taco, we are Star Canyon and Taqueria Cañonita and Timpano and Trader Vic's and everything else in which Rusty Fenton had input. We are a food town, and we have Rusty to thank. Thank you Rusty, from the bottom of our big hearts and perpetually growling stomachs.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sara Blankenship
Contact: Sara Blankenship