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Restaurants / Bars

Dallas Nightlife Hotspot Finally Gets Serious About Its Restaurant Food

New Chef Brings Major Kitchen Chops

BY // 06.16.17
photography Carey Chan

You could visit Café Salsera several times before realizing that it is, in fact, a cafe. Hit the Deep Ellum restaurant on a weekend night and it’s guaranteed to be packed, but you won’t have to wait for a table. Actually, you’ll rarely find a plate of food in sight. Patrons go there to dance, not to dine.

Since opening in July 2015, this Dallas cafe has been better known for its lively nightlife than its culinary offerings, but now the kitchen is turning up the heat. Café Salsera recently appointed Armando Aguilar as executive chef and he will lead the restaurant as it shifts to a New American concept.

A Dallas native, Aguilar honed his craft in some of the city’s hottest kitchens, including Hotel St. Germain, CBD provisions, Bouchon 1314, and Knife, before Café Salsera’s unique vibe drew him in.

“I feel like I’m at home and have the liberty to make good tasting and good looking food from the heart,” Aguilar says. “Cooking the food that I love in the heart of Deep Ellum is pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to be part of this area.”

The chef used his diverse repertoire to create a sophisticated menu for the reimagined Salsera. Seasonal offerings include tuna tartare served with naan, halibut with chorizo, tamarind short rib, along with several vegetarian options. The restaurant will also roll out a special weekend-only brunch menu.

Armando Aguilar is a culinary graduate of Universidad del Valle de Puebla in Mexico and has an extensive knowledge of Mexican cooking, but his passion ultimately lies in New American cuisine. He will keep the Latin spirit alive at Salsera as it enters a new era.

“There are some Latin influences on the menu like the mole sauce, the chorizo for the halibut, the pipián (pepita seed sauce) for the pork dish, and the cactus salad. Being Hispanic, I’m always looking for ways to add a Latin touch to my dishes,” he says.

Aguilar promises that the restaurant will continue its tradition of serving complimentary chips and salsa.

“It is our way of saying thanks to our customers and is a much-appreciated staple here,” he says. “Café Salsera would not be the same without the salsa!”

Café Salsera hopes the changes will bring focus back to its food and away from its rowdy nightclub reputation – but not to worry, salsa will still be served on the dance floor as well.

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