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Michelin-Trained Chef Partners Up and Finds a Permanent Home for Soul Taco Restaurant in Garden Oaks

The former food truck turned pop-up will reemerge as a full-service restaurant at the Common this summer

April Gooden and Chef Dawn Sloan pose in front of the Sugar & Cloth Color Wall at The Commons at Pinemont.
April Gooden and Chef Dawn Sloan pose in front of the Sugar & Cloth Color Wall at The Commons at Pinemont.
Alex Montoya

Taco haunts are a welcome addition to any neighborhood in Houston, and ones helmed by a Michelin-trained chef are worth getting even more excited about. This summer, Houstonians can look forward to the opening of Soul Taco, from chef Dawn Sloan, a veteran of 1-Star Michelin La Folie in San Francisco and 3-Star Michelin Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, Spain, which is set to debut at the Common at 1102 Pinemont Drive in the GOOF (Garden Oaks-Oak Forest) in August.

Soul Taco may be familiar to some. The brand has been around since 2017, operating first as a food truck and then briefly as a pop-up at the now shuttered Throughgood Coffee in Shady Acres, but it has been dormant since.

The taco and Tex-Mex concept is known to skew from tradition by incorporating flavors and cooking techniques learned from Sloan’s grandmothers. Its garnered attention over the years for a worthy selection of breakfast tacos named after the iconic crooners she grew up listening to, like James Brown, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin.

“The rich culture of soul food has been instrumental in the evolution of American cuisine,” says Sloan. “Soul Taco is an homage to my family heritage and a reflection of my own transformation through the process of becoming a chef.”

After partnering with fellow Houston-based entrepreneur, April Gooden, the duo have collaborated on Soul Taco’s revival, and are bringing it back in a major (and more permanent) way. When it opens at the end of the summer, the 2,700-square-foot restaurant restaurant will serve as an anchor for the 38,000-square-foot Opportunity Zone retail center, recently reimagined by Houston-based Gulf Coast Commercial Group. The restaurant will sit adjacent to a central common space in the budding multi-use development, where the Sugar & Cloth Color Wall, a colorful mural by popular Houston-based DIY blogger Ashley Rose, is on full display.

Along with Sloan’s signature tacos, the new iteration of Soul Taco will feature an assortment of pastries, biscuits, quiches, scones, and breads that incorporate ingredients from local purveyors like Houston Dairymaids; a number of salads; and to-go feasts, centered around holiday dining in November and December. The brand’s ethos of highlighting local products spans to its beverage program as well. Soul Taco will tout Houston-based Three Keys Coffee with a variety of house-made syrups.

“We’re so appreciative of Gulf Coast Commercial Group’s support in making the progression of Soul Taco a reality. They first approached me about The Common nearly three years ago, but the timing just wasn’t right in terms of traction in this neighborhood, and without a partner like April, who I respect so much given her acumen, ethics and drive.”

The outpost at the Common will serve as Soul Taco’s flagship, but plans are already being made to open more locations in the future. For now, visitors can look forward to familiarizing themselves with the reinvented taco brand, and all it has to offer, when Soul Taco opens for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, and after-hours special events in just a few short months.