by Kerrie Sparks

Walking into Komali is a feast for the senses, and not what you would expect for a Dallas
restaurant that dubs itself as contemporary Mexican cuisine.  But contemporary it is with
sleek lines, clean delineation of spaces, and natural materials used in unexpected ways.
The layout is a shotgun style, with entry in the middle, and you’re greeted by a 1,500
pound Italian sandstone “mask” that doubles as a chair in the hostess area.
One half of the restaurant is classically intimate, with the usual dining room comprised
of four-top tables, yet there’s an unexpected wood burning fireplace at one end. The
ornate structure, designed by Brian Scott, is unlike anything you’ve seen.  Julio bought
random Italian pottery and plates from eBay and instructed Brian to go to town.  Brian
also included hand worked and fired pottery into the structure in the form of skulls, a
sock monkey, even an “angry turnip” – one of the staff’s favorites.  See if you can find
the naughty pottery piece that’s hidden within the mosaic!

The other half of the space is a vibrant bar with two linear expanses of counter space,
an enormous framed mirror behind the bar that’s hugged by patinated Ann Sacks tile
and sisal wall covering painted bright white, and a wall of banquet tables rest under
two huge windows which flank the opposite side.

It was among these beautiful textures I pulled up a seat next to Abraham and talked
about his traditional food and keen design eye.  He told me he was pleasantly
surprised to find many people were indeed familiar with traditional Mexican food,
and they were welcoming the honesty of the ingredients and the husky tomatillos
with open arms.
Abraham says a sprawling patio is soon to come and will begin to beckon patrons most
likely this fall.  In the meantime, belly up to the CaesarStone bar and let mixologist
extraordinaire, Leann Berry, imbibe you with “The Komali”.  Her recently awarded
“Best Margarita in Dallas” includes Tres Generaciones Reposado tequila, prickly pear
puree, mango and lime juices, and a splash of Cointreau.  

It’s the perfect drink for washing down the queso de cabra, a morita chile goat cheese
that’s surrounded by sweet piloncillo sauce (reduced whole cane sugar), and served
with grilled bread.  Challenge your taste buds with the variety of mole’s Abraham’s got
at the ready, I recommend any one alongside his tamales.  The chorizo sopes with
Oaxaca cheese, topped with his fresh and tangy tomatillo salsa, are amazing!  And
finish with some avocado ice cream…yes, you should.  It’s surprisingly palette
cleansing and not heavy.
4152 Cole Ave
Suite 106
Dallas, TX 75204
(214) 252-0200
KS: How did the concept of Komali come about?  

AS: I was born in Mexico City and have been looking for a restaurant that served authentic
Mexican food the way I grew up eating. Some get close but no one did it that way.

KS: Usually I would ask how you came to decide on location choice, but you’ve opened up
Komali right next door to Salum!  At what point did you decide to feature them en suite, or was
that always your plan?  

AS: I wanted to have the restaurants as close to each other as possible.  I looked at several
locations and then Octagon let go of some of their space and we took over.

KS: Who makes up the design team…was it just yourself and Julio Quinones?  

AS: Just Julio and I. George Bramblett was our general contractor and he did a fantastic job,
so if I ever do another concept, I have a great team to work with.

KS: Did you already have an idea of the culinary palette you wanted to work with?  

AS: Yes, it comes very easy, as it's the food of my country, the food I love and that brings back
a lot of memories.

KS: What is the one design material you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you wanted to
feature in the space?

AS: The sisal on the walls, it gives the place texture and warmth even though it is painted
white. I just love the way it looks.

KS: How does Komali’s concept differ from your namesake restaurant, in both food, design, and

AS: It is a completely different restaurant; Mexican food, a large bar, I want people to party
and have fun. It is bright and the energy is high.

KS: Now, you know I have to ask it…which one is your favorite?  One is your first-born, and one is
your newborn, but if you had to choose?  

AS: I love them both for different reasons. Salum is the first and I do what I love, Komali is the
food that I grew up with. It took a long time for people to understand what I wanted Salum to
be and I assume it will be the same with Komali. Some people will never understand the
difference between Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican, but for the people that do, which are
many, I am so grateful for their support.

KS: I’ve heard you use Caprino Royale’s goat cheese, is it important to you to source food
ingredients locally?  

AS: It is important to support local farmers. I take pride in what I serve my customers and
knowing the source of the products and how they are handled is key.

KS: Flan or churros?  
AS: Flan.

KS: Favorite websites/blogs?  
AS: Crave and SideDish.

KS: Restaurant interiors aside, what is your personal design style?  
AS: Clean and simple.

KS: What would you choose for your last meal on earth?  
AS: Quesadillas de chicharron prensado, fresh avocado, queso fresco, and a very spicy salsa
de chile de arbol.

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