Nick Badovinus owns Town Hearth, one of the most lavish steak restaurants in town, but he’s not afraid to dig into a bologna sandwich. Trevor Paulhus

Openings/Closings

Nick Badovinus To Open a Baja-Style Mexican Restaurant On Lowest Greenville

Add fire-grilled fish to Badovinus' ever-growing restaurant roster.

As reported on CultureMap yesterday, Nick Badovinus plans to open a Baja-inspired Mexican restaurant named Desert Racer at 1520 Greenville Ave., in the space that was most recently occupied by the Austin-based Haymaker.

One might guess Badovinus has a restaurant-opening complex. In May, I was already hinting at it when we spoke about his newly opened pizza joint, Perfect Union Pizza Co., which he co-owns with Julian Barsotti in Highland Park Village. We were chatting about upcoming National Anthem and PMA All Day (“expect doughnuts, coffee, and rooftop dining,” I wrote), slated to open in the historic Magnolia Oil/KLIF building downtown, with work to begin in the fall.

And now this. One could say it’s a love of vehicles and speed. Those Ducatis you see in his two newest restaurants, Town Hearth and Perfect Union Pizza Co., are talismanic to Badovinus, and it’s no surprise a vintage MG Roadster is the spotlight-grabbing focus at his Design District steakhouse.

Desert Racer is named in honor of the Baja 1000, held every year on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

“Southwestern U.S. and Baja-inspired cantina is the game,” Badovinus told CultureMap. “And it’ll feature a live-fire/smoke method of cooking.”

This is something we don’t have a lot of in Dallas, food from a spit of land with water on both flanks. (Though Tacos Mariachi is one place that’s devoted entirely to Baja-style street food.) It’s the food I eat when I return to California. Up and down the coast, whether in L.A. or on the Northern coast, I seek them out: tacos laden with Pacific-caught fish, swizzled with crema or pico de gallo, a drift of cabbage, and maybe a few slices of avocado. They’re like the simple but extraordinary tacos I’ve gotten in Tijuana.

We know Badovinus loves throwing things on fire. We know he loves fish (from his upbringing in Seattle’s Puget Sound, where misty mornings involved salmon fishing with his uncle, and a steaming thermos of coffee. There’s a lot of that sensibility, obviously, at his restaurant Montlake Cut.). But we haven’t had quite these flavors from him yet.

No word yet on an opening date. (Badovinus courteously declined further comment, saying he didn’t have anything to add regarding menu directions.) Stay tuned for more details when we get them.

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