First Look: Tulum in Highland Park

Photo credit: Shaban Athuman

From the masterminds behind Firebird Restaurant Group (El Fenix, Taqueria La Ventana) comes a new, luxury concept called Tulum.

Tulum was inspired by Firebird CEO Mike Karns’, and his wife, Valerie’s, travels to the namesake city in Mexico. It is the couple’s favorite vacation spot, and with Tulum, they hope to recreate the experience for guests of the restaurant. Tulum, the restaurant, encompasses many elements of Tulum, the city, and is an amalgamation of what people seek on their vacation; good food, relaxing atmosphere, and a temporary escape from the ordinary.

Atmosphere

Upon entering Tulum, guests are greeted with a flowing bar in the center of the entryway. Sounds of the Amazon rainforest are heard throughout the restaurant and images of the beaches and the waters are projected onto a large screen in the back of the main lounge. The music selection consists of jazz vocalists, electronic trance and house, and Latin sounds. Overall, the atmosphere and ambiance allow for a luxury, cultural experience.

Starters

Guests cannot find the typical chips and queso on Tulum’s starter menu. Instead, they are offered a diverse selection of land, sea, and even vegan plates. Among the starters are the chicken flutes, the vegan ceviche, and the charred Spanish octopus. The octopus comes served as a portion of an octopus tentacle sat atop an achiote ginger orange sauce, and with charred hearts of palm on the side. The outer skin of the tentacle is grilled to a crisp. The tentacle itself cuts like a steak, and is juicy, hearty, and flavorful.

Spanish charred octopus from Tulum (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Mains

From a menu curated by Chef Nico Sanchez, guest can choose from a variety of minimalistically plated dishes. The diver scallops are an arrangement of three jumbo scallops sat atop a bed of mashed potatoes. They are served with a side of grilled beets and tamarind sauce. The scallops cut fairly easily and despite being a seemingly small portion, they are filling and satisfying.

Diver scallops from Tulum (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Another good choice is the cheshire pork ribs, which are wood-burnt baby back ribs immersed in a chile Morita and served with a side of salsa negra and charred pineapple. The chile Morita makes the ribs spicy with each bite. When dipped in the salsa, the ribs become even spicier, however, a bite of the charred pineapple instantly cancels out the heat, making for an ideal symbiotic pairing of food.

Cheshire pork ribs from Tulum (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Dessert

One of the desserts at Tulum is a chocolate sponge cake, which is served soaked in Nestle Chocolate Abuelita. It is a warm, comforting dessert that is not too heavy, yet makes for a delightful conclusion to a meal.

Chocolate Abuelita Cake from Tulum (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Tulum is set to open its doors to the public on  Thursday, October 25 at 5:00 P.M.

Tulum, 4216 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas (Highland Park) | thetulumexperience.com

Meet Pam Eudaric: A Jane of All Trades

Everyone has heard the age-old expression in which that if one does what they love, they never have to work a day in their life. For Pam Eudaric, this is the reality. Eudaric is the owner of Chocolate Secrets, located in Highland Park. She also owns Green Earth Metal Company, Joe Carter Construction, and Uptown Printer. For some, maintaining four businesses may sound daunting, but for Eudaric, it’s the reason she wakes up in the morning.

“I enjoy doing a lot of things,” Eudaric says. “What ever presents itself, what ever need arises, that’s what I try to go do. I don’t believe it’s necessary to do only one thing throughout your entire life. I think you should explore and be open to different opportunities.”

As one could imagine, Eudaric is busy at nearly all hours of the day. Luckily for her, this does not pose a burden.

“I don’t necessarily feel the need to have down time,” Eudaric says. “All of the things I do, I enjoy. For example, did you know we have live jazz here Wednesdays through Saturdays? I get to come here, have chocolate, drink wine, and listen to music.”

After years of hard work, Eudaric feels that she has earned the life she has always wanted. Prior to owning her companies, Eudaric worked as a business litigation attorney. However, she eventually dreaded having to constantly be the bearer of bad news, which is why she decided to venture away from the realm of law.

“When you’re a business litigator, usually the answer is ‘no,'” Eudaric says, “meaning, if you were to ask me something, the answer is likely to be ‘no,’ and I’d knock your teeth in. When I retired to take care of my children, I opened up a business where the answer is always ‘yes.’ When you’re in my home, I take care of you like I take care of my family.”

Eudaric’s mantra of treating guests like family rings true throughout her store, Chocolate Secrets. Chocolate Secrets offers guests a variety of chocolates, paired with a selection of wines.

“We make all of our chocolates in house,” Eudaric says. “I have hired chefs from seven different countries and they are incredibly talented.”

All of Chocolate Secret’s chocolates are prepared in-house (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

Her carefully-selected chocolatiers are always hard at work, and constantly help Eudaric bring her ideas to life.

“I just came up with a new recipe for a fantastic chocolate called ‘Black Panther,’” Eudaric says. “I’ve seen the movie four times. I like to think of this chocolate as a ‘fabulous’ and ‘honest’ chocolate.”

The ‘Black Panther’ is among the many chocolate options available at Chocolate Secrets. As a business owner, Eudaric’s prerogative is to priortize the needs of every customer and make them feel at home.

Some of the many chocolate treats available at Chocolate Secrets (Photo credit: Alex Gonzalez)

“I’m trying to inspire little moments of bliss,” Eudaric says. “I want to give everyone all of the options possible, because I want to make them happy.”

After years of hard work, Eudaric was recently awarded the Quest for Success award from the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. She is also working on a book of her own.

“My book will be a self-help book,” Eudaric says. “It’s called ‘Be Open to Yes,’ and it is currently in the process of editing.”

With her accolades and her projects, along with her close friends and family, Eudaric feels very fulfilled.

“I’m just a happy woman,” Eudaric says. “I’m the owner of many  wonderful businesses, I’m the mother of three great sons, and I love life.”

Francesca Nor Details Dive’s New Renovations, Personal Journey to Dive

Dive Coastal Cuisine is going into its eighth year of serving hearty seafood in the Highland Park district. For the past three weeks, Dive has been undergoing some major renovations. They will officially reopen their doors on Wednesday.

“We are basically taking the front walk-up center and putting in a full-service bar,” owner Francesca Nor said of Dive’s renovations. “We’ve always been a walk-up concept and have never been ‘full service’ anything. There will be five or six seats at our bar where we will serve beer, wine, infused tequila, and our signature sangria.”

Apart from the bar and full-service aspects, Dive’s rebranding will also include changes to its aesthetic.

“Where there was a high-top communal table, there will now be a banquette,” Nor said. “We’ve added some lighting, we’ve redone the menu, we’ve redone the website, and we’ve added coral to our color palette. Our color palette was originally navy and turquoise, but now, it’s navy, turquoise, and coral, so it has a little bit more of a ‘poppy’ feel.”

From a very young age, Nor became fascinated by culinary arts, cultures, and unique dishes.

“I was about five or six years old when I first became interested in food,” Nor said. “I was born in Los Angeles and my parents would take us to upscale, hip restaurants. I would go into these restaurants and order things like the caviar or the shark, and the waiter would look at my parents like ‘Is she for real?’ I didn’t know any different, I just knew that I liked that food because my parents exposed me to it at a young age.”

Dive’s signature SURF+TURF dish, consisting of Churrasco steak, grilled shrimp, cilantro rice & black beans with house-made chimichurri sauce (Photo Credit: Claire McCormack)

Despite having developed an interest in food so early on in life, Nor began her higher studies in the realm of art.

“Funny enough, I went to school to study photography and mixed media art,” Nor said. “It wasn’t until I was about 21 years old until a light went off. I was living in Florence, Italy and I took a workshop at Cordon Bleu, and realized ‘this is what I need to be doing,’ so then I decided to go to culinary school.”

Nor finished culinary school at the top of her class. Following culinary school, Nor traveled the world, acquired knowledge of various world cultures, and eventually opened Dive. When selecting her employees, Nor believes in a personal approach, as opposed to modern technological pre-screenings.

“There are a lot of ways restaurants select their employees,” Nor said. “There are HR departments, there are all sorts of personality tests, but honestly, I just kind of go with my gut. I get the first impression of someone and I just kind of go off of how they click with me. Experience is always important, but if they don’t respect my business and what I do, then it’s just another job to them.”

For those wanting to follow in Nor’s footsteps and open a restaurant, Nor offers a bit of advice.

“Hands down, you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing,” Nor said. “Stay true to yourself and make sure that what you’re doing is something you enjoy. Staying honest with yourself and not doubting yourself is conveyed in everything you do. If you believe it, your customers will believe it too.”

Fish on the Grill (Photo Credit: Claire McCormack)

Dive Coastal Cuisine officially reopens on Wednesday and operates from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. They will also be open until 11 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday and will offer a variety of late night bites, including cheese boards, hummus boards, and more.