III Forks steakhouse to open location near its North Dallas birthplace

A new food truck has opened in Dallas from a chef well known in the vegan food realm. Called Fēniks Vegan Spot, the trailer is from Christian Rios, who previously had a restaurant in Richardson called Lahla’s Plant Kitchen, which closed in 2021.

Rios has spent the past two years saving for the trailer, taking home-remodeling jobs to accumulate a bankroll.

He started taking it out on the road in mid-2023, doing popups around town, then celebrated a grand opening of sorts on November 4, outside Mashup Market in Denton, where the trailer will occupy a semi-permanent residence, providing Rios’ fans a predictable place to find his food.

The custom-made food trailer offers a detailed menu of vegan plates, from chicken & waffles and tacos to Cajun lobster-mushroom pasta.

“I did the popups for six months and it was a great way to get out and meet people,” Rios says. “But I knew I wanted to expand.”

Rios, who’s 40, first came to DFW in 2015, but has worked in dozens of restaurants, taking points on each: Outback Steakhouse, Mexican diners, and Italian restaurants.

“Cooking is my love language, I started when I grew up,” he says. “My mom wasn’t the best cook, so I taught myself about food and just started to learn and grow.”

He attended culinary school in Austin where he learned about classic French cuisine, which he calls the upper echelon of cooking.

“I am applying French techniques to my menu,” he says. “Working in a lot of restaurants exposed me to all kinds of food, so now I have a grasp on international foods and I can bring that to the food trailer menu.”

He became acquainted with vegan food while living in Austin.

“It was very big there,” Rios says. “I was at a point where I had to start thinking about my health and really loved the plant-based idea. I looked at it also as a way to use my culinary creativity.”

One popular dish is his Hibiscus Asada, where he takes hibiscus leaves and brews them, then rinses, smokes, and seasons until they become “beefy.” They’re served with roasted sweet potatoes and grilled onions.

For chicken, he uses lions mane mushrooms, pressed hard to remove excess liquid, then fried with waffles.

The trailer gives him mobility and the opportunity to be part of events like Vegan Brewfest Dallas at Community Beer Co. on Saturday November 11.

He’s pondering a ghost kitchen where he can prep food for delivery, while also seeking a more permanent trailer location.

More immediately, “I’m going to be back outside Mashup in Denton after this weekend. And soon, I’ll have a permanent place.”

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