The Dream Tacos introduces global cuisine to the tortilla

The Dream Tacos has chicken, beef and vegan-focused tacos aimed to please any palate. Photo by Kathy Tran
The Dream Tacos has chicken, beef and vegan-focused tacos aimed to please any palate. Photo by Kathy Tran

When one thinks of pizza, $1 slices and a greasy, cheesy delivery meal come to mind. When one thinks of a sandwich, a lunch-box filling PB&J comes to mind. Yet, upscale, full-service restaurants line the downtown streets of every major city, turning a casual comfort meal into a culinary experience.

But why do tacos, the comfort food of Texans everywhere, not have similar concepts?

The Dream Tacos chef Chetra Chau. Photo by Kathy Tran
The Dream Tacos chef Chetra Chau. Photo by Kathy Tran

This is the premise that The Dream Tacos chef Chetra Chau has been trying to perfect for the last decade. And with The Dream Tacos, which opened on Preston Road late last year, Chau believes he’s done it.

The highlights? A birria coconut curry chicken taco with braised chicken, coconut cream-infused India and Thai curry with herbs. A banh mi taco with Chetra’s sauce, patel, cured pork ear, braised pork belly, pickled slaw, jala, Asian herbs and a sriracha drizzle. A bulgogi Korean taco with marinated Beyond meat, bulgogi sauce, scallions and a cellophane noodle garnish.

Chau started cooking in his family’s homestyle cooking restaurant five years ago working in the front of house for 12-16 hours a day and coming home to take care of two children, he says.

“I was burned out.”

Though weary from the physical labor, Chau wanted to challenge his culinary abilities, and got a job as a chef at the Hilton Anatole.

“I was very fortunate enough that the executive saw the opportunity to train me and I excelled at it,” he says.

Chau grew in the culinary rankings and became sous chef, reveling in the ability to look at ingredients or see menus and visually build a meal.

“Becoming a chef, I realized that my personality came out outside of the box, my creativity, my presentation to elevate a dish, make it more fun,” he says.

Chau wanted to go to culinary school, but with two kids at home and working a full-time job, time and money constraints got in the way. So instead, Chau bought all of the books he could find online for culinary students and famous chef’s recommendations.

“I even flew to New York, Las Vegas, California,” Chau says. “Visiting the restaurants just to learn the technique, look at the venues and ask questions. I’ve learned to fuse the different cultures together, and when I do that it makes me so happy.”

He then became a chef at the Marriott International where he learned cooking styles from France, Japan and other cultures.

When it was time to go off on his own, Chau became a private chef.

“[The clients] were my research and development,” Chau says. “At one point, I worked seven days a week because after my divorce I went to just focus on work. And then I got sick from working too much.”

Chau was ready to make the switch from private catering to his own restaurant, bringing his client’s favorites into one menu. However, the pandemic had just hit, and few restaurant properties were available.

Chau settled on a spot in Bedford, where he opened up Chetra’s Kitchen.

“I told people that if my concept succeeded in Bedford, I could succeed anywhere,” Chau says. “You really have to work hard to get these people to come in.”

Chetra’s Kitchen was full of typical entrees like steak and pasta, but the item that many highlighted was the taco menu, which featured unconventional cultural pairings like the bulgogi taco.

Chau noted that there are lots of twists on basic concepts that have turned upscale, like pizza and sandwiches, but that a full-service upscale taco joint was not common. He launched The Dream Tacos in Bedford in 2022.

When The Dream Tacos landed a spot on Texas Monthly’s Top 25 New(ish) Taquerias in Texas, Chau realized that his goal of “tacos you could dream about” was coming true, he says.

“I realized that in Bedford I could not grow because the population is too small,” Chau says. “So I came to Frisco and Plano where all the foodies are.”

Chau researched the demographic of the area, aiming to combine the cultural dishes that the population is used to with the taco concept.

“I need to create something that touches everybody’s palate and still have this unique concept,” he says. “Everyone loves fusion.”

Tacos ring up between $6.99 and $9.50 each, but finishing more than a couple is no small feat.

Much like the ambience of the restaurant itself — full of color, texture and neon signs sporting taco-centric phrases — the martinis and margaritas feature a variety of bright and sweet concoctions.

A lychee martini features Absolut vodka and SOHO lychee liqueur shaken with lychee syrup. Margaritas come frozen or on the rocks in a variety of flavors.

“I want to touch people’s hearts and people’s palate,” Chau says. “I want to see the ‘wow.’”

The Dream Tacos, 8245 Preston Road, 972.2294.5429

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