Chido’s Taco Lounge founder Blaine McGowan says that a really good taco has to start with a homemade corn tortilla. From there, it’s about the quality of ingredients, salsas made in house, pork slow-cooked over long hours in the kitchen, and from there, the possibilities are global and endless.
“Tacos are a vehicle that can deliver so many flavors,” he says.
Chido’s Taco Lounge is set to open in early 2021 in Frisco. It’s Blaine McGowan’s first restaurant, opened with partner Gabe Zeller, a restauranteur with six concepts in Ohio. In addition to the restaurant partners, the Chido culinary team will be led by Chef Jerry de la Riva with consulting chef Samir Dhurandhar. Kareem Dula and David Wright of Craft Culture will create Chido’s drink menu.
McGowan started his career in sales. He moved to the DFW area from a small West Texas town in 1997, to find a job and as he puts it, “find out what real life was like.”
But while he worked in sales, he also nursed a passion for food and cooking. As a child, he would help his dad grill, and loved watching Food Network. Whenever he’d cook for friends, they’d tell him to open a restaurant.
“I thought that’s funny, there’s no way I could do that,” McGowan says.
As years went on, people kept telling him he should open a restaurant.
Finally, he took inspiration from DFW’s underground dining circle, Frank’s Underground, and decided to run his own supper club in Frisco out of his own home.
“It was word of mouth,” he says. “We did it for 14 months straight. We’d fill a table for ten, and seat four at the bar. We’d give everyone a welcome cocktail and let them hang out while I prepared things. Then we’d serve them a five course meal, appetizer, salad, mid-course, main course, and dessert, all with wine pairings.”
The concept was so popular that every single dinner was sold out. “We had people trying to come back and we’d have to tell people we were sold out.” He adds that they would have to kick people out at the end of the night to go to bed.
“For me, the best part was seeing people enjoying it and having fun,” McGowan says. “Strangers would meet and exchange numbers at the end of the night. It was amazing that food could bring people that much joy.”
At the end of the 14 months, one of his friends stayed late. “He told me I had to find money. I had to figure a real restaurant out. He pointed out that I was passionate about it,” he recalls.
That was where Chido’s Taco Lounge began.
McGowan eventually settled on tacos for a simple reason: “Everyone loves tacos. In DFW there are a bazillion taco places. Taco stands, fancy tacos, Americanized tacos, everything.”
Their menu will be straight-forward, but with global flavors, particularly Asian influences, rotating specials, and even a secret menu. He adds that he has a few conceptual ideas he’s excited to debut. For example: order “Omakase” and the chef will decide your dinner menu. He isn’t sure what will work and what won’t, but he has an amazing team behind him.
“I want to bring more people like myself with unique ideas up north,” he explains. “Dallas has always been Dallas because everyone lives up there. It’s been harder to create something up north because we didn’t used to have the traffic. But now, there are young entrepreneurs moving here as well as families, married couples that don’t have kids, and empty nesters: all these people.”
McGowan envisions Chido as a place for craft tacos and cocktails, with a quick, fast-casual service for lunch, but that transforms for dinner into a lounge where people can spend a couple of hours on the patio with friends.
Some of his ideas have had to change because of COVID-19. He originally planned to install a big communal table in the restaurant. Now tables will be socially distanced. In terms of crowding and social distancing, he says everyone has had to learn some hard lessons.
Still, he hopes to one day have ticketed dinners, a callback to Frisco Supper Club, and other events and specials that will draw in foodies. He also hints at some form of a secret menu, and possibly limited-edition specials. But he isn’t ready to tip his hand. Whatever they provide, he says that his hope is to draw in a community of like-minded people. Community remains at the heart of the lounge.
“That’s what’s important to me,” McGowan says. “The power that food has to bring people together.”
6959 Lebanon Rd. #123, Frisco | chidodfw.com