Restaurants

Thai, Mexican restaurants moving into the West 7th area

Salmon with green curry at Pakpao Thai
Salmon with green curry at Pakpao Thai Handout

Crockett Row at West 7th, formerly known simply as West 7th, has a history of restaurant ups and downs. On Monday morning, it announced a couple of ups.

El Bolero Cocina Mexicana, described as a “chic casual Mexican restaurant,” and Pakpao Thai, which has a name that seems kinda self-explanatory, are both scheduled to open in late fall.

Both restaurants come from Dallas-based Apheleia Restaurant Group, owned by Tiffanee and Richard Ellman. And both, like some other Crockett Row restaurants, have older siblings on the eastern side of the Metroplex.

In a way — OK, a roundabout way — Pakpao brings Thai food full circle in the development: Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin, better-known as Chef Eddy T., is a former Pakpao chef who launched the short-lived Kin Kin Urban Thai in what was then known as West 7th. Thretipthuangsin also had another Fort Worth restaurant, Bite City Grill, in the nearby Montogmery Plaza complex. That’s also gone, and he is currently concentrating on his new Sai Fine Asian Bistro in Colleyville.

Pakpao’s current executive chef, Jet Tila, is arguably even better-known: He has appeared as a judge on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and has been featured on “Chopped,” “Iron Chef America,” CBS’ “The Early Show,” “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” and “The Best Thai I Ever Ate.”

Pakpao’s menu, according to a release, is influenced by the street food of Bangkok and the diverse regions of Thailand. We’re intrigued by the crispy fried chicken curry and the Thai coffee mousse with chocolate fudge and the “beef-jerky flight,” among other items on the wide-ranging menu, which has several gluten-free items and a small vegan section. Top price on an online menu is $22 for diver scallops; most entrees hover in the $15-$20 range.

The existing Dallas locations of Pakpao also offer brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with such items as a Thai tea French toast, pork congee and coconut pancakes. Brunch dishes range from $9 to $18. Of course, change is possible at the Fort Worth location.

Pakpao will be at 2932 Crockett St., most recently home to Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse, which closed in March.

El Bolero, which takes its culinary inspiration from across Mexico, has a selection of ceviches, tacos, soups, salads and entrees, including a goat/panela cheese chile relleno, lobster-tail fajitas and cochinita pibil. On the Dallas menu, the lobster-tail fajitas tie with the lobster rice with scallops for most expensive dish, at $29; the least expensive entree (not counting taco plates) is enchiladas verdes de pollo at $14. Our eyes are drawn to a dessert lineup that includes a Neapolitan tres leches and arroz con leche cake. El Bolero also offers brunch.

El Bolero will be at 2933 Crockett St., most recently home to Fort Worth Market + Table, which closed last summer (Market + Table executive chef Kalen Jane is close to opening her new restaurant, Protein Fit Kitchen in Southlake). The space was the (relatively) longtime home of Tillman’s Roadhouse Fort Worth.

A couple of months ago, West 7th rebranded as Crockett Row at West 7th, naming the development after the street that runs through its center for three blocks between University Drive and Foch Street. Some other new, non-restaurant tenants — notably furniture store West Elm — have been announced for the development.

Crockett Row also plans “new architectural enhancements to offer a more pedestrian-friendly experience,” according to a release. Those enhancements will include more shade and landscaping, public art, and a “text-to-retrieve” valet system, which might help alleviate the often crowded parking at the development.

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