“Instead of being Texas-centric, it’s more North-American-centric,” says John Franke, the corporate chef and a partner in Velvet Taco (1110 N. State St., no phone yet). “It’s American.” The Gold Coast location, Velvet Taco’s third, will join Dallas and Fort Worth branches when it opens in late fall.

Franke means American in the sense of melting pot—the tacos on Velvet Taco’s menu qualify for the name by dint of their tortilla, while the fillings tour global cuisines, beyond just Mexican. A few examples:

  • Roti chicken BLT with rotisserie chicken, duck bacon, and basil-infused ranch crema
  • Cuban Pig with pulled pork, ham, Gruyère, mustard, and pickles
  • Roast pork banh mi with Thai basil crema, Asian barbecue sauce, and pickled vegetables

Tacos will cost from $3.75 to $6.75 (for tuna poke) apiece, and the restaurant, with fast-casual service, plans to do a lot of late-night business, as the Texas locations do. Sides include elotes, a Greek-style potato, and Tater Tots with cheese, bacon, and an egg. Drinks will cover cane-sugar-only sodas and canned beers.

What makes the tacos velvet, though? Franke says the word popped up in a brand-brainstorming session. “What describes sexy, silky, eclectic, retro, controversial?” he says they asked. “And the names dwindled down quickly. You could look at in a perverted way, but what we wanted to do is what makes ‘velvet’ a special word. You think of cool things from the past.”

Aha. So it’s the same thing that’s velvet about an underground.