After a five-year stint in Utah, DeHart says his new eatery is “a taqueria by day and elevated Latin cuisine by night. Although at Fénix we are always serious about tacos no matter the hour.” We caught up with DeHart to get the skinny on his love of tacos and why you should check out his new JoCo digs.
‘Fess up—what’s your favorite taco at Fénix and why?
“If I could only pick one taco as my favorite, I think I’d choose the Pollo Taco. I’ve made the same 16-spice chicken for years at home for my family, so it feels like a really personal dish that I get to serve everyone. Also, the fresh mango and sundried tomato pico de gallo are nice flavors—great for this time of year.”
What was the genesis behind Fénix?
“The genesis for Fénix started in Salt Lake City. I was messaging with an old friend of mine that spoke of this opportunity. Enter Strang Hall! I flew out, had an intense cooking demo, passed, and landed an amazing spot amidst a phenomenal league of chefs.
Fénix—the name is an exact translation in Spanish—is the mythical phoenix (bird) rising from the ashes. I’ve always had a love for the idea of rebirth and the idea of rising above and growing from obstacles in life. Also, coming back to Kansas City after a long hiatus, I feel like a Fénix who has come back reborn—ready to feed the masses the best flavors I can, one palate at a time.”
You’re back in KC after being away for a bit—good to be home?
“It’s beyond great to be home. Salt Lake City is a beautiful city with a lot going on, but it’s not home—it’s not Kansas City. I’m so proud of our city, everything it’s become and accomplished since I’ve been away just over half a decade. Plus, the longevity of so many gems that I remember.
I can’t really express how happy I am to call KC my home again. It’s been a long road moving, buying a home, and opening a restaurant right when COVID-19 hit the fan. I’m at peace and completely in my element again with tacos and Fénix.”