Friday, May 24, 2024 May 24, 2024
77° F Dallas, TX
Restaurant Openings and Closings

A Look at Shannon Wynne’s New Restaurant, Miriam Cocina Latina

They’ve got enchiladas, green plantains, and green queso.

Shannon Wynne’s new restaurant, Miriam Cocina Latina, which opened adjacent to Klyde Warren Park at 2015 Woodall Rodgers Fwy., is named for Wynne’s partner in the endeavor, Miriam Jimenez. It’s inspired by her effusive personality and in that sense it differs remarkably from all his previous ventures. LARK on the Park closed in late 2018—for approximately six months—then reopened earlier this month with a concept that blends Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex, with an extra effort to blur the boundaries with brushstrokes from the Dominican Republic, Jimenez’s birthplace.

Down the bar, someone has ordered a pomegranate sangria and a young business man chats with the bartender, extolling the smoky notes in his mezcal cocktail, and crunches on chips. The trio of salsas that arrives is flavorful and suave—a garlicky, crimson tomato salsa, cool tomatillo-avocado, and a beautiful, smooth, orange-rust colored sauce, the same color as the servers’ aprons.

While the bartender points at the ceiling, I overhear them discussing the custom ceiling mural done by local artists Courtney and Cara Miles—how the sisters started at one end and two days later had reached the other. A lush floral pattern snakes its way across the ceiling: roses and daffodils on a background of charcoal grey. The backbar holds one shelf of mezcal and multiple shelves of tequila, and a photo of Jimenez, her arms open wide.

Otherwise, and outside the vibrant pops of color, the space is remarkably similar to LARK on the Park, with an airy, upscale, pared-down décor full of whites and greens and natural wood.

But the food, obviously, is not.

Jimenez, whose first job in Dallas was as a server at Manny’s Uptown, opened four restaurants for Mico Rodriguez, including Mesero, which is where Wynne was impressed by her warmth and welcome.

Here, in a menu she helped develop with executive chef Victor Valenciano, she thought, “Let me bring the cabrito. Let me bring the green plantains. Let me bring something different from my country”—a fusion, as she says, a more Latin twist on what it means to be a Mexican restaurant. With notes from a cuisine where you’d find tostones and arepas and fried cheese and a drink called Morir Soñando, “to die dreaming.” The dishes that remind Jimenez of home are the plantains and cabrito, though its guajillo sauce, here, is a nod back to Mexico.

My enchiladas come as a classic Tex-Mex set-up with creamy black beans and flavorful cilantro-flecked white rice.

Rich mole poblano, abundant in spices, laps a flute filled tight with shredded chicken and with pickled onions whose job is to cut through the nuanced depth. Next to it is another enchilada lav-ishly drowned in a lush, vibrant sauce. This one a carmine red guajillo sauce. Inside is Oaxacan cheese, a satisfying twist on a traditional cheese enchilada. The raw white onion that accents it is refreshingly pungent; the mole enchilada distinguishes itself with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

I did not order the shrimp and mushroom quesadillas, the upscale, somewhat fussily-plated tacos or ceviche or yucca fries. I did not order the poblano-infused queso that’s a pale shade of jade-green. Or the puerco rojo con nopales (braised pork with sautéed cactus paddle) or chicken thighs in pasilla sauce from a menu that also features mainstream mains like salmon with bacon-wrapped asparagus. But I did go for the enchiladas—and eyed the equally Tex-Mex-y list of combination plates. And the enchiladas were a pleasant surprise.

They intend, I later learned, that it should feel like you’re in the Dominican Republic, on a white sand beach. I don’t know; I feel like I’m at Klyde Warren park. But with a happy revamp of classic enchiladas and a nice batch of salsas.