Firebird Restaurant Group is no stranger to Tex-Mex—or tacos. The Dallas-based company’s portfolio includes centenarian restaurant El Fenix, as well as other Dallas stalwarts like Snuffers and Village Burger Bar. But about six years ago Firebird ventured into limited service with a window out of its Mexican brand, Meso Maya. Thus was born Taqueria La Ventana, which literally translates to The Window Taco Shop.

Since then the concept has added three more stores plus one food-hall location at the Dallas Farmers Market. While each location boasts its own unique layout, all stay true to the offbeat vibe wherein bright colors intermingle with a bit of urban grunge in a relaxed space. Still, there’s something special about the original with its outdoor-only seating and juxtaposition to the much fancier Meso Mayo.

Founder and chief creative officer Mike Karns shares the scoop on Dallas’s chill hideaway.

How did La Ventana first come into being?

When we first opened Meso Maya in Uptown Dallas in December 2012, we had a walk-up window on the backside of the restaurant by the open parking area. We decided this would be the perfect place to sell street tacos, and if we didn’t jump on the opportunity, someone else would. We then created Taqueria La Ventana as an authentic Mexico City taqueria designed with eclectic, funky décor and fused with a modern Texas sensibility. It was designed to feel like the last little holdout in Uptown.

What’s special about the original location?

It’s unique in that it has a walk-up window, it exudes an unexpected Mexico City vibe in the middle of downtown, and there is no indoor element to this location, making it the perfect patio dining and drinking destination.

Rumor has it the margarita at Taqueria La Ventana is just as good as the Meso Maya ones. Any other insider secrets?

Our margarita is made with 100 percent blue agave, real lime juice, and house-made simple syrup. One of the best-kept secrets in town is that you can’t find a better margarita for happy hour anywhere in Dallas for the price. It’s only $3 from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

What’s the most popular menu item? Your personal favorite?

The most popular items according to our guests are the steak tacos.

My favorite is the pastor bowl with salsa verde. It’s a blend of marinated pork with cilantro, shredded lettuce, diced onions, tomatoes, rice, black beans, and shredded cheese.

Chef Nico’s favorite is the calabacitas tacos: queso fresco, handmade corn tortillas with veggies, served with choice of two salsas.

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Story