Photography by Kathy Tran

When Joon Choe decided he wanted to open a taco restaurant, he looked for a neighborhood where a small business would thrive. Preston Hollow was the first neighborhood that came to mind.

“The people are amazing here,” Choe says. “They’re very supportive, especially during COVID. If it weren’t for this community, I don’t think Public Taco would be where it is now. This neighborhood is all about supporting local businesses, and we’re truly grateful for that.”

Public Taco is in Preston Royal Village.

Joon grew up in Plano, where he worked at a local sushi restaurant and developed a passion for kitchen operations.

After high school, he attended Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  He worked for Jean-Georges in Columbus Circle and helped assist with restaurant openings in New York City and Miami, Fla.

Choe knew he wanted to open his own restaurant. While traveling through Asia for three months with future wife Michelle, they wound up spending most of their time in South Korea and Japan.

“Japanese cuisine is one of my favorite things,” Choe says. “[My wife and I] have family in both countries, so those are favorite places of ours to visit.”

In 2016, Choe opened FreshFin on Lower Greenville. FreshFin served poké, sushi burritos and ahi tuna towers at the height of the poké trend in Dallas. He opened a second FreshFin location inside Plano’s Legacy Hall in 2017 and closed the original Lower Greenville location shortly after.

After two years in Legacy Hall, Choe closed FreshFin and decided to shift his focus toward a lifelong favorite — tacos.

“I absolutely love tacos,” Choe says. “Ever since I was a child, tacos have been one of my favorite foods. Essentially, it’s about putting everything you possibly can into one little piece of foundation, which is a tortilla. The craft is just very captivating for me.”

As the name suggests, Public Taco offers a range of tacos. There’s the signature takorea, a corn tortilla filled with pan-seared ribeye, onion, cilantro, caramelized kimchi and sriracha aioli. And there’s the taco belly, a corn tortilla with twice-cooked pork belly, guacamole, jalapeno, cilantro and pickled red onion.

There’s also the corn truffle, a taco that doesn’t contain meat. The corn truffle is made with huitlacoche fritter, pico de gallo, corn, truffle aioli and crispy onions.

“I think the corn truffle is one of my favorite tacos on the menu,” Choe says. “When people ask us about it, they’re like ‘What kind of meat is in this?’ and they’re always surprised when we tell them it’s vegetarian.”

As of now, Choe says he has no expansion plans. Instead, he’s focusing on making Public Taco a household name in Preston Hollow.

“We want to slowly grow this brand and be a place for the community,” Choe says. “At the end of the day, we’re hoping for Public Taco to be a ‘third place,’ in connection to work and home.”