In both proximity and content, the new Resident Taqueria and recently reinvented Neighbors Casual Kitchen present the perfect opportunity for a Louie CK-style “bang-bang.” Not familiar with the term? “It’s where you have a whole meal at one place and go right to another place and have another one. Bang, bang,” Louie’s TV brother explains. Both are located in the southwest sector of the center at Walnut Hill and Audelia.
Every detail of Resident Taqueria is quaint and aesthetic. Rock star St. Vincent’s sister and brother-in-law own and operate the place. Like the musician who worked the floor on opening weekend, the restaurant offers casual, edgy elegance. Behind the slick look is a culinary talent — Chef Andrew Savoie — putting out creative combinations of seasonal fresh produce, slow-braised meats and handcrafted tortillas.
Upon entry, approach the counter and immediately order an Oak Highlands brew and the Mushroom Fundido from the “sides” menu. A true-Mex melty cheese and savory mushroom bowl, the fundito is served on an adorable little skillet, white and warm and shining with the exact right amount of greasiness. The mini flour tortillas that come with it are made to order. The tacos are three-bite constructions featuring colorful and fresh ingredients including cabbage, cauliflower, pork belly/ shoulder, pineapple, cabbage, house-made chorizo and pickled scallion. I devoured the caramelized cauliflower, kale, pepita and lemon epazote aioli taco, which offered optimal texture — soft, melt-in-your-mouth shell around the crunch of crisp kale and the flavor-soaked veggies. The slow-cooked poblano mushroom and oaxaca cheese taco echoed the oozy zest of the fundido. At $3 apiece, you can try them all. But don’t now, because, bang-bang.
At Neighbors, I intended to order a salad, but then I realized it was Sunday and brunch was happening, so I selected an omelet. Three eggs, spinach, tomato, onion, feta cheese, topped with fresh green avocado — fluffy and light, simple and filling — and aside a heaping pile of salty home fries. Even with two tacos down, my husband had no trouble polishing off the French dip which came with a crisp green side salad on a bread plate (note: salad on a bread plate is extremely difficult to eat without making a mess, especially with all that deliciously rich and tangy ranch dressing, but that’s a divergence for another day. This bang-bang was too good to finish with a complaint).
Neighbors is roomier than Resident — at least double the square footage. Still the place was half-full, even after 1 p.m. The cafe offers a stylish atmosphere with its own brand of whimsey — for example, the bill came inside a vintage Nancy Drew book. Now that is the way to end a bang-bang — with the best girl detective in the whole world on your table. This intersection of Lake Highlands is increasingly quirky, and I like it.