The owners of Totopos in Cary have formed a partnership called Planet Taco Hospitality Group and opened Viva DF Tequila & Taco Bar in Morrisville’s McCrimmon Corner Shopping Center.
Principal partner Joel Ibarra explains that “DF” (pronounced DAY EFF-ay) stands for Distrito Federal, the official governmental designation for Mexico City.
Like Totopos, the new restaurant celebrates the vibrant food and drink scene of that sprawling capital city. But, as Ibarra points out, “we’re going for a more urban energy vibe here.”
To that end, the partners have given the former Morrisville La Rancherita (one of several Mexican restaurants owned by the Ibarra family) a complete makeover, transforming it into a casually modern open space with a bar (stocked with over 80 tequilas) at one end and a colorful mural depicting Mexico City landmarks at the other.
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Totopos fans will recognize several dishes on the Viva DF menu, but the offering at the new restaurant has been tweaked to match the decor. Tacos get top billing here, expanding on Totopos’ traditional taqueria-inspired list to include a seasonally changing supplement of chef’s creations such as the pork belly and scallop tacos that have been a hit in the early going. The entree offering has been correspondingly abridged to include just a handful of Totopos favorites.
The streamlined menu and casually colorful look, combined with the creation of the Planet Taco Hospitality Group, suggest that Viva DF may be designed as a blueprint for multiple locations to come. Joel Ibarra confirms the possibility, noting that the flexible design could work as well in an urban setting as in a strip mall.
Viva DF Tequila & Taco Bar (4075 Davis Drive, Morrisville; 919-467-2627) serves lunch and dinner daily, and brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.