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New Downtown Restaurant

Market Square Park's new taco restaurant is more than a food truck treat: A sneak peek at Fusion Taco

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Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 entrance
The new Fusion Taco restaurant is expected to open on Friday. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 taco
24-hour beef short rib vindaloo with raita and cucumber-tomato relish. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 taco
Chinese barbecue Berkshire pork with roasted corn salsa and spring onion pickles. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 salad
Seared tuna kale salad. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior
Vintage '70s patterns, mid-century modern chairs, bold floral textiles and salvaged wood table tops are part of the décor. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior
An orange plus gray color scheme forges a sophisticated ambiance far from the location's former tenant. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 bar
Guests may recognize a touch of the former tenant's décor in the slate flooring and the location of the bar. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior crowd
A friends-and-family dinner welcomed guests for a complimentary tasting of the menu. Photo by Joel Luks
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 entrance
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 taco
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 taco
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 salad
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 bar
Fusion Taco Houston July 2013 interior crowd

Ask David Grossman and fiancée Julia Sharaby what it's like to prepare for the grand opening of a restaurant.

Although the two aren't strangers of the hospitality industry — Grossman was the brain behind Branch Water Tavern on Shepherd (purchased by Matt Brice and Mike Frank and rebranded as Federal American Grill) and Sharaby operates the Fusion Taco food truck, which was featured on Food Network Canada's Eat St. — it was all hands on deck as the restaurateur cooked up an invite only friends-and-family dinner Wednesday ahead of the expected Friday opening of the new Fusion Taco brick-and-mortar establishment at 801 Congress St., the former home of Les Givral's Kahve in the historic Market Square Park hood.

(Sharaby was cited by the New York Times as one of the chefs that set in motion the national Korean taco craze — and she once memorably chose to wave her BMW goodbye mid tow rather than disappoint a long line of foodies awaiting service.) 

The 50 or so diners who were offered a complimentary tasting of the menu that blends Eastern flavors with south-of-the-border cuisine experienced a continuous flow of elegantly presented grilled chicken satay and Angus steak tacos served atop soft corn tortillas alongside an endless supply of Asian and domestic brews. Fusion Taco just received its certificate of occupancy earlier in the day Wednesday, allowing the kitchen to be up and running officially for the first time.

 The couple also plans to install a small retail business inside the restaurant that stocks assorted sauces with global zest.

Guests may recognize a touch of the former tenant's decor in the slate flooring, the location of the bar, ordering counter and a curved glass block partition that hides the hallway to the restrooms. But the addition of vintage '70s patterns, an orange plus gray color scheme, mid-century modern chairs, bold floral textiles and salvaged wood table tops — much of which was purchased at auction from the now closed Sushi Raku — transform this fast casual eatery into a perky, sophisticated joint with a patio far from the tenor of the house of cheap bánh mis.

What you'll find on the bill of fare are Fusion Taco food truck favs like quesadillas and signature tacos in addition to hearty sandwiches, big salads and sides. The list that includes tempura rock shrimp tacos with wasabi aioli, watercress and togarashi, Chinese barbecue Berkshire pork tacos with roasted corn salsa, grilled mahi tacos with pineapple salsa and 24-hour beef short rib vindaloo tacos with cucumber relish is dressed up with a Texas Kobe beef burger, panko crusted snapper sandwich, seared tuna kale salad, mulligatawny soup and ginger tres leches.

For those craving Les Givral's Khave's dishes, try the fried chicken bánh mi with chicken pate and the traditional Vietnamese accouterments.

The couple also plans to install a small retail business inside the restaurant that stocks assorted sauces with global zest.

The opening of Fusion Taco is aligned with a trend of new restaurants and bars setting roots in the area after a wave of closings. Among those revitalizing this neck of the woods are Barnaby's Cafe, Batanga, Goro & Gun, Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar and Clutch City Squire. Other food trucks now doing the brick-and-mortar thing like Fusion Taco include Eatsie Boys,  Good Dog Hot Dogs and Green Seed Vegan.

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