So, what is everyone calling that little neighborhood that’s not in Deep Ellum but not in Downtown and not quite Old East Dallas where Bottled Blonde and the Epic reside? Whatever it is, a new restaurant is coming to join the party — but it would like to be the upscale neighbor that nightclub goers hit before their wild night out beings, thank you very much.
La Neta Cocina y Lounge has signed up to bring “modern Mexican” from Summerlin, Las Vegas to Dallas, specifically in the Epic building, a mixed use residential and office space that has been working on filling out its retail portfolio. The restaurant is eyeballing an early 2023 opening date.
81/82 Group founder Ryan Labbe tells Eater Dallas that he’s spent a lot of time in Dallas trying to choose the perfect space, and that our hospitality made an outsized impression on him. “Everything is bigger in Texas. All the successful restaurants in Texas that I’ve been to go above and beyond, from service to presentations to personality.” And that’s what La Neta Dallas will incorporate, along with some over the top, Texas-sized desserts and additional steak plates. Now, saying it’s gonna do things even bigger is really saying something, when its coming from a restaurant with a section devoted to Big F’n Tacos (BFTs) that are intense creations involving whole lobsters, gold, and bone-in short rib and with a menu that it describes as “unapologetically unique.”
When asked what Vegas might have to bring to Mexican cuisine in Dallas, Labbe says, “We’re not authentic and we’re not textbook. We’re modern. I’ve been to a lot of the hip places in Dallas and they’re all phenomenal. Javier’s, the Mexican — they’re delicious. But that’s not where we are. We’re not coming here to try to change [things], we’re going to try to introduce our menu and, hopefully, it’s well received.”
It’s the experience, Labbe explains, that makes La Neta Cocina y Lounge. In Vegas, it has cultivated a gothic princess vibe, with touches of pink, plant life, multi-colored wood, and the distinct influence of Tulum. La Neta Dallas will feature a living wall art installation and a local chef to Dallas-ify the place. While interviews for that position are ongoing, Labbe says, “We’re not Las Vegas people coming to Dallas. We are going to be Dallas locals.”
Welcome to the neighborhood, then, La Neta Dallas. Maybe y’all can help us name it already.