Regino Rojas, the inventive and outspoken owner of Revolver Taco Lounge, is DFW's lone semifinalist for a 2018 James Beard Award, a prestigious culinary honor.
The restaurant and chef semifinalists were announced Thursday morning by the James Beard Foundation for its 28th annual awards. According to a news release, the semifinalists were selected from a list of more than 20,000 online entries in 21 categories nationally and in 10 regions across the United States.
Rojas is in one of the regional categories: Best Chef: Southwest, a region that encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. Counting Rojas, 12 Texas chefs were nominated in that category, mostly from the Austin, Houston and San Antonio areas, with the one rural chef being Norma Frances “Tootsie” Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, roughly an hour east of Austin.
On March 14, the foundation will announce the finalists for all award categories during a press conference at Parc, hosted by James Beard Award–winning restaurateur Stephen Starr, in Philadelphia.
Rojas opened the original location of Revolver Taco Lounge on West Seventh Street in 2011. Perhaps the first taqueria of its kind in Fort Worth, the restaurant featured a plush, nightclub atmosphere set against a backdrop of employees — including Rojas' own relatives — hand-making the food.
Recipes were inspired by the cuisine of Michoacan, the Mexican state where Rojas and his family are from. The menu featured items such as duck-breast tacos and young goat stew.
Texas Monthly named its huitlocoche taco as one of the best tacos in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and celebrity foodie Andrew Zimmern paid a visit for "Bizarre Foods America," describing the food as "some of the best Michoacan food you can find outside of Mexico."
Citing problems with his landlord, Rojas eventually closed the West Seventh location and relocated to Forest Park Boulevard, in a large two-room spot where Sera Fine Dining & Wine and Sapristi! Bistro & Wine Bar had come and gone.
Rojas also opened a location in Dallas' Deep Ellum district, and in July 2017, Rojas closed the Forest Park location and moved all his operations to Dallas.