[Photos: Garrett Hall/EDFW]
Once-beloved Dallas restaurateur Genaro Silva is preparing to return to the fray later this month with the debut of his new venture Genaro's Mexican Cuisine in Lakewood.
Silva made a name for himself in Dallas back in the 80s with places like Moctezuma's and Genaro's Tropical, the latter of which was known as much for its nightlife and salsa dancing scene as the food. As Silva explains, "Everyone back then thought Mexican food was basically junk food — chips and enchiladas and greasy stuff. I wanted to show a better side."
To that aim, Genaro's will focus on lighter fare and more unusual coastal dishes like swordfish kebabs (a dish he developed during the heyday of Genaro's Tropical), seafood-stuffed chile rellenos, lamb enchiladas, seared scallops and organic beef tenderloin, with a focus on using sustainable and local products when possible.
Besides a love for food, Silva's also got a serious passion for professional service. "When I was a kid we used to go to Acapulco, when it was hot. We would go to a place called Carlos 'N Charlie's and it was so cool. The waiters were young and they were sexy, they had a panache about them that the waiters over here didn't. Over there they were proud of service, they'd [have a white towel] over their arm like this. It was just so cool and it really stuck in my mind after I came back to Dallas."
Silva says he's not a fan of the type of service so typical today where servers start out by introducing themselves by name to their customers. "I believe if the service is really at a level where it ought to be, your customers will ask you for your name."
The interior was still under construction as of last week, but expect a rustic-chic interior that's smartly outfitted with a sound-absorbing wall feature and a cool acid-washed bar by local metal artist Humberto DeGarrio. An indoor/outdoor bar features windows that open to serve barstools outside, and an expansive patio will seat 120. (Perhaps best of all, the plentiful parking in the shopping center means no valet.)
The new Genaro's is just up the street from where hot spot Genaro's Tropical was located until it closed in 1988, and Silva is excited to return to the neighborhood.
"I love this area because it's so eclectic. Different cultures, different backgrounds, young, old, all different economic levels. Everybody over 45 remembers Genaro's Tropical, we've had a lot of people driving by and asking, 'Is this the same Genaro's that was over on Skillman and Live Oak? We used to go there and we'd stay for three hours.' And that's exactly the kind of people I want; I want them to come and dine, eat slowly, enjoy the food, enjoy the music, and after we clear the plates hang around, keep drinking and keep enjoying the music. I don't want people to just come and get their fill of calories and leave."
So why the return to the restaurant business after all this time?
"When you're in the restaurant biz, you can get out and do something else but it's always in the back of your mind, like a virus, just waiting to metastasize," says Silva. "You get to a certain point in your life and you start to realize, no matter what you do and how big you hit it or how low you get, you're going to die. There's really no winning and losing, there's just having fun and playing the game. So I don't mind giving this a shot. If I win or lose, it'll be okay. I just don't want to end up on my deathbed going, why didn't I do it?"