was successfully added to your cart.

Cart

Monthly Archives

January 2019

Velvet Taco

Secret Menu Brisket Nachos
Secret Menu Brisket Nachos

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Velvet Taco on Greenville Ave.

Order Up!

Velvet Taco has 10 locations with the Fitzhugh location being the O.G. The FOOD at VT is the hero. Notice I didn’t say tacos. This is Velvet TACO but really, their menu is a culmination of delicious international dishes SERVED in various tortillas. The flavor combinations are amazing and the menu is not overwhelming or expected. I ordered two tacos. My first was the fried cod with curry mayo, yum…I didn’t bother with the tortilla or slaw and I would have rather had two pieces of cod on a plate. The brisket taco has a comté (French origin – I looked it up) cheese-encrusted tortilla so basically it’s a tortilla with crispy fried cheese on the outside. AHH-mazing surprise. We ordered the tater tots and they were good. The fried egg on top makes a good picture and since I love fried eggs, I ate it but c’mon, the “spork” is no bueno. Next time, I’m bringing my own fork. Danny ordered the spicy tikka chicken taco. Which is crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema and Thai basil on a flour tortilla. Danny says  “it’s the prefect amount of heat and extremely flavorful.“ I hear the red curry coconut queso is delicious. I like curry and I like coconut and I like queso but the I’m not sure I’m going to like them in the same dish. We’ll see next visit!

VT has, what I hear, is a really delicious red velvet cake. When you see a photo of it with the bourbon drizzle it looks pretty tasty but the counter presentation and display needs some serious love! 

Secret Menu:

Velvet Taco has a secret menu item that we are about to blow the lid off of. BRISKET NACHOS! That’s right, Velvet Taco has Brisket Nachos and they’re euphoric! The Brisket Nachos are only on the menu at their Ft. Worth location, but remain a secret menu item that you can get at any of their other locations… if you know to ask. The secret Brisket Nachos are blue corn chips loaded with barbacoa beef, queso blanco, roasted corn pico, lime crema, salsa verde, quest fresco, and micro cilantro. Note that they are a “sides” portion so you still need to order some tacos or queso.

Environmental Branding:

Signage is good. Outdoor seating is nice and there’s a giant colorful mural on one wall. There is also a drive up window for call-ahead orders. It achieves the goal of looking simple and industrial. I wouldn’t call it comfortable but there are some cool upholstered swivel stools all along the window bar. I’d really like to see something soft somewhere in the interior.

Branding DNA:

I like the logo. I like the hot pink. I feel the packaging is a little un-evolved for such a hot brand. I’m not a big fan of the menu board design and the margarita sign unless the “start up” look is intentional and then I guess that’s genius. Velvet Taco has the “indie” look working for them, I just think there’s opportunity to add another layer. If the interior was as rich as the food, that’d be sweet.

Backdoor chicken. Clever. I Like it. Adds a quirky layer to this funky concept.


Digital Branding:

Velvet Taco has a nice website. The left side navigation threw me off so it took me a while to find the “about us” and the “location” info. The “about us” video is great. They should put a link to that on the home page. Their Instagram and Facebook pages mix some marketing images with beautiful food photos that promote their WTF, Weekly Taco Feature. They would benefit from adding some lifestyle images that would showcase their brand style.
-Danny

Score:

I give it an A for food & a B+ for environment. Danny gives it a solid A.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

Pie Tap

Prosciutto Pizza
Prosciutto Pizza

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Pie Tap at Market Center and Oak Lawn in the Design District.

Order Up!

Pie Tap has 3 locations and another on the way. I really like this place. The exterior, the interior, the photos, the food, the website and finally, the SPIEDINI (oven fired skewers of prosciutto wrapped fontina cheese served with a small arugula salad). The Spiedini is a Keto eaters dream.

I haven’t really found much reason to leave the “snack” menu yet. Our office neighbor Erin has an unnatural relationship with the Goat cheese fondue served with toasted pecan pepper jam and fresh made rosemary bread puff -it’s nothing less than sensual. Really.

Danny is a pizza guy so he got the Prosciutto pie. It has la quercia prosciutto, medjool dates, pistachio, arugula, house ricotta, parmigiano-reggiano and is topped with a balsamic drizzle. Even though he meant to get the Salami pizza, he said the Prosciutto pizza was a sweet and savory surprise.

In 2017, Pie Tap was voted the Best New Restaurant in Dallas and won Culturemap’s Tastemaker Award.

It’s clear that there’s a chef behind the food and that he’s Italian and it’s obvious that they are having fun here. This place is cool and “neighborhoody!”

Environmental Branding:

When a place is “cool” it’s really hard to describe it because, well, it’s just cool. I’m going to try anyway – one thing about this place is the WARMTH. It is true industrial design but somehow it’s not cold and uncomfortable. I think the open kitchen with two massive and beautiful italian ovens is a big part of it. The smooth warm wood tables and touches of gold upholstery make for nice and toasty interior. It actually smells warm too! 

It’s not a very big place but the layout is great. I pretty much like everything except the blue and green argyle tile wall and the lightbulbs in the bathroom.

Pie Tap was designed by Plan B Group. Plan B is Royce Ring and Alex Urrunaga. They are credited with LOTS of cool restaurants – check ‘em out. Name dropping sidebar: Way back when – I worked on a few projects for Club Nikita – a basement level Russian vodka bar in West Village owned by Russell Hayward who was partners with Royce in Triple R Group. Russell owns Ascension Coffee – another great place just down the street.

Branding DNA:

The design district location has great curb appeal with lots of visibility for signage including a billboard. Window graphics advertise 1/2 price wine. There’s a big pizza wheel sculpture on the corner and outdoor seating. Everything ties in and results in one nice big branding package.


Digital Branding:

Pie Tap’s website has a scrolling banner that mixes mouthwatering food photography with decor and employee imagery that lets the consumer know what to expect any time you visit one of their locations. Their Instagram and Facebook have the perfect balance of food, marketing and lifestyle images. Pie Tap’s photographs look professional while still retaining a candid feel.
-Danny

Score:

MJ and Danny give it a solid A.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny

Tacodeli

Delicious Tacos
Delicious Tacos

This week’s #FridayFeed restaurant branding review is Tacodeli at Sylvan | Thirty with celebrity guest, Bret Sano from Caliber Creative.

Order Up!

Tacodeli has 10 locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston. Big menu with lots of “Farm to Taco” menu items. Everything is made fresh daily including a nice selection of fresh salsas and sauces. Delicious queso – a little thinner than I like it but the flavor is really nice. Before I talk about the food, I’m going to say what I’m sure so many people say about Tacodeli – Why are they not open for dinner???!” In a city where you can pretty much get anything you want, any time you want, this makes me crazy – like how Chick-Fil-A is not open on Sunday.

They ARE open for breakfast every day and lunch is served until 3pm which would be GREAT for Tacodeli if that location was in the heart of a business district vs surrounded by apartments. I ordered the Frontera Fundido Sirloin with grilled sirloin, jack cheese glaze, and sautéed poblano-onion rajas and an Akaushi Picadillo which is a ground beef, jack cheese glaze, cilantro and onion. Now, I don’t know what Fundido is and I don’t know what a jack cheese “glaze” is but I do know that I like them both. I rarely order anything sirloin unless it’s the fajitas at Uncle Julio’s (yum) but this sirloin was tender and delicious. Bret got the Happy Taco, and the Carne Asada. Danny got the Tacoloco and Akaushi Picadillo. We shared a queso and chips and we sampled all of the sauces.

Environmental Branding:

The interior design at this location is very light and bright. They use a large format octagonal tile in grey, black and white which dominates more than I like. I actually had to go back and look at the photos to remember anything about the floor, tables, chairs and lighting. The dining room has a variety of “hard” seating and this location also has outdoor seating. I wouldn’t say that the decor says anything about the concept. 

Branding DNA:

I went to the website to learn more about the brand. Labeled Farm to Taco, the website tells the story of founder Roberto who was born in Mexico and started Tacodeli in Austin in 1999. The logo was updated just last year, retiring the cartoon Mexican eating a taco (still found at the Sylvan | Thirty location, however). I’d like to see a slogan or something to help me connect the brand a little more. While “farm-to-table”, “organic”, “locally sourced”, have dominated the restaurant scene this last 5 years, it’s time for something new. It might have been “different” in Austin in 1999 but if you’re going to enter the taco scene in the Dallas Market without benefit of your history, you better bring your A-game. Just sayin…

Bret’s Thoughts:

Overall, I’d say the branding is not bringing much new and different to the table. The tone and style of the logotype and brand typography are definitely kicking a casual, approachable vibe, which is appropriate and fits the category. The logotype itself comes across as both custom and stock typeface at the same time. You could see it either way. The style of it reminds me of infamous 90’s gimmick display fonts like Fajita and Remedy, which is not for me, but it’s not nearly as obnoxious as those were. The color palette is pretty standard and basic, which is fine, but again not differentiating itself much. I think the ancillary branded graphics like the t-shirts are a missed opportunity. For me they blend together with a multitude of other Tex Mex restaurants and brands – Chuy’s comes to mind. All that said, the tone and personality of brand is authentic and true to what it is — it’s not hipster food, it’s not elevated food, it’s Tex Mex comfort casual, and the branding speaks to that in my opinion.

Celebrity Guest, Bret Sano is a principal and creative director at award-winning Dallas design firm Caliber Creative. He also happens to be the very first designer I ever hired at Studio B in the mid 90’s when we officed in the White Swan Building (now House of Blues). He and his company do beautiful work


Digital Branding:

Tacodeli’s social media is full of taco and promotional imagery, but showcase only a few lifestyle photographs. In such a competitive market, Tacodeli would benefit by mixing in more posts about their brand’s uniqueness i.e. their farm fresh produce, locally sourced ingredients and their ties to the community.

Something to Chew On:

Tacodeli uses a variety of tattoo-esque illustrations on their tabletops, various secondary signage and even on retail merchandise. The use of this secondary art style should be carried throughout the branding more or remove it entirely. Their primary design of clean and modern clash with the ancillary tattoo-esque illustrations.
– Danny

Score:

MJ gives it a B, Danny gives it a B+ and Bret gives it a B.

#FridayFeed:

Every Friday, Studio B Dallas visits a local fast casual concept for lunch to critique the brand (and eat lunch). Three rules apply: it’s a concept we haven’t been to or it’s been in the restaurant news and it’s within 10 miles of our office. Wait, four rules – it can’t be sushi. Danny doesn’t do sushi. If you have any suggestions on where we should eat next, feel free to leave it in the comments. Look for our restaurant branding reviews each Friday! MJ & Danny