Three days ago, Dallas bartender and restaurateur Michael Martensen posted this on his Instagram. A friend tipped me off to it. “There’s a cantina on the horizon,” the caption reads on a photo of a man’s arm (presumably Martensens?) giving a thumbs up in front of a multicolored tiled wall.
I met Martensen last night for a drink at Cosmo’s to discuss his mysterious new project. And it turns out there is, in fact, a cantina on the horizon. (Okay, technically it’s not on the horizon, rather, on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Reagan Street. But you get the picture.)
The restaurateur has partnered with Quesa owners Francisco and Patricia Cabrera to create Q Tacos and Machos Cantina. The restaurant and bar is located in the Quesa space on Cedar Springs, and will crank out a variety of street tacos and cocktails.
“Q Tacos is the taco stand that will offer authentic tacos from Mexico,” says Martensen. “Specialties will be the trompo, chicken tinga with chorizo, and beef barbacoa (lengua)…a couple other offering other than tacos will be guacamole, queso, and street corn.” Tortillas will be made in-house.
Proof + Pantry executive chef Nick Hurry is behind the menu and has been tweaking recipes for the past 45 days. Once a month the restaurant will feature a taco from a guest chef. “I’d like to create a Rolodex of tacos from great chefs,” says Martensen. “Invite people in to keep it fresh.”
All food can be ordered at a walk-up window, and either taken to-go or eaten in the space. But food can not be ordered at the bar. Most tacos will cost less than $4.
Machos Cantina, or the bar element, will feature a selection of mezcals, tequilas, and rums. “[We’re] focusing on being a great bar on Cedar Springs,” says Martensen. “We will juice daily, make our own syrups, mix accordingly, and serve quality drinks…there’s no frozen margarita, but we have a frozen vodka Red Bull. This is the first time in 13 years that I’ve served Red Bull at one of my bars.”
The space has been remodeled to feel more lounge-y. Martensen explains that they’ve added cushioned seating, curtains, and of course, the tiled wall that’s spotted on his Instagram.
Q Tacos will open for lunch, while Machos Cantina will open around 4 p.m. Food will be available until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Expect a grand opening in roughly 10 days.