Writing by Bo Duncan
Photography by Chris Perez
There’s a new restaurant dream team in town. In the spirit of the word Vox, which means ‘conversation’ in Latin, we chatted with the all-stars that pulled together to bring us the inspired New American small plates restaurant on South Lamar.
When owner Vincent Manguino decided to build a restaurant in the new South Lamar Union – alongside Shake Shack, Cantine and Alamo Drafthouse – he was facing strong competition. To stack the decks to his advantage, he chose a strategy that could not fail: He didn’t start with a menu, a building or a concept – he started with the people.
Owner Vincent Manguino didn’t start with a menu… he started with the people.
From Beverage Director Travis Tober to Executive Chef Joe Anguiano and Pastry Chef Allison Henschel, he curated the best team he could, and the experience at VOX reflects that.
Travis Tober… the name sounded familiar. As lead bartender JR Marcanu says, “If he sounds familiar, I’m not surprised, but if you’ve met him, you’d be sure.” He wasn’t wrong. With a raspy voice, cargo shorts and an organic hipster-before-it-was-a-thing vibe, Travis is just cool. He’s a stranger to no one, offering you a drink in almost the same sentence as he introduces his name.
As the beverage director at VOX Table, Travis loves making cocktails, and he’s great at it. His favorite drink is the Bees Knees, and his team works daily to come up with innovative creations like Topo Chico salt foam, to rest atop a classic dirty gin martini with a twist of lavender. Gimmicks sell, but they last with great recipes. It’s true, and we couldn’t argue with his genius decision to purchase the same ice machine they use at Sonic. “Everyone loves Sonic ice!”
When it comes to the food at VOX, executive Chef Joe Anguiano’s specialties are just as inspired. After hearing the saga of his path to success, we couldn’t help but wonder, “How old are you, 100?” This young chef has done it all, from selling homemade tortillas with his mother to working as a Chef at the renowned Le Cirque in New York and Zuberoa, with two Michelin Stars, in San Sebastian. His most recent post was at Eleven Plates and Wine in Westlake. He is highly inspired by everything he’s done, and includes elements of his career in every dish. “At the end of culinary school, my advisor told me to go work for the best. So I did that.”
“I want every bite to be surprising.”
When asked how he would define his style, Chef Anguiano says, “I like to keep it light, using Texas ingredients in the best way. I want every bite to be surprising. Your palate works, you know? You just gotta know what ingredients and flavors ignite your taste buds.”
The plating is gorgeous – colorful, composed, innovative and impressive. Try the Smoked Himachi Pipette, served in mini squeeze tubes from holes born in handmade cedar boards from a local artist. The presentation is handsome, but the flavor of the curated bites is one of those that stops you in your tracks. There is just so much texture going on in one bite. The way it goes is this: you squeeze the creamy coconut soy vinaigrette from the bottom of the tube, as you pull the smoked himachi, pickled cucumber and tomato raisin (rolled in thai chili sauce and light crunchy toasted rice) from the pipette with your teeth. This little operation is intentional, as Chef Joe puts it, “I want people to get interactive with their food, use their hands and be involved.”
The plating is gorgeous – colorful, composed, innovative and impressive
Then, my dear god, the Pork Cracklings. An homage to patatas bravas, the crunchy, airy, crispy salty pork skins are balanced with creamy stripes of citrus aioli and brava sauce.
Seasonal features include plates like the Glazed Baby Carrots – brown butter molasses rainbow carrots with pomegranate – which comes together on a plate of color that is as breathtaking as the first taste.
Chef Anguiano’s goal at VOX is for his guests to walk away from the table remembering every bite. Each one is spectacular, and because the plates are small, many can be enjoyed in one visit –and when the red crab, hamachi, braised oxtail and BLT tacos are gone, there’s still room for something sweet.
Pastry Chef Allison Henschel’s creative desserts might satisfy you enough after just reading their description on the menu. Take, for example, the Sazerac sundae, made with rye whiskey custard, pecan brittle, candied lemon, Peychauds ice cream, fennel chip, caramel, rye and whiskey clementine.
Irish Goodbye, on draft
orange zest infused Tullamore Dew, cherry heering, earl grey tea, lemon |10|
Hand on the Pump, on draft
absolut vodka, apple + rosemary fortified wine, lemon, sugar, bubbles |10|
Smoked Himachi Pipette
tomato raisins, pickled cucumber, thai chili, coconut soy vinaigrette | 11 |
citrus aioli, brava sauce | 4 |
Glazed Baby Carrot
hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds, yogurt, brown butter molasses | 7 |
Roasted Tasmanian Sea Trout
shimeji mushroom, mui choy, thai chili, brown butter persillade | 15 |
creamy rice, fava beans, pea tendrils, charred vine ripe tomatoes | 20 |
VOX Table should be on your list to hit this summer. The restaurant is welcoming for friends, family, solo dining, celebrations and romance alike – from brunch on the weekend, to the “Bites and Booze” happy hour menu after work, to dinner and a movie. The natural light coming in from the wall of windows on the southeast cover the room with the most inviting atmosphere, and sets a stage for the artistic presentations coming from both the bar and the kitchen. Don’t miss it.
1100 South Lamar Blvd, Suite 2140
Hours: DINNER Sunday – Wednesday, 5PM – 10 PM, Thursday – Saturday, 5PM – 11 PM BRUNCH Saturday – Sunday 11AM – 2PM
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