A Neighborhood Café
Preserving A Piece of East Dallas
Family-owned Urbano Café opened in 2009 in a run-down, 1920s-era East Dallas storefront nestled between legendary Jimmy’s Italian Food Store and Tom Spicer’s FM 1410.
Founder Mitch Kauffman had recently closed his Uptown Dallas iteration of Urbano, which opened in 2002 as Urbano Paninoteca, and found the future Urbano Café location while hanging with longtime friend Spicer at his organic produce shop next door to the empty space.
Mitch went to work transforming up the tiny space, removing layers of old vinyl flooring and demolishing the dropped ceiling to uncover and restore the original tin ceiling and transom windows. Chef and longtime friend Ke’o Velasquez helped developed a small menu focused on grilled meats and fish, fresh vegetables, pasta and flavorful sauces.
When Urbano Café opened in June of 2009, it was an instant hit and was named a “Best New Restaurant of 2009” by The Dallas Morning News. With no space to properly store wine, the restaurant was BYOB, drawing wine collectors who wanted to pair their own rare bottles with their favorite Urbano dishes.
With business booming and space getting tight, Mitch soon acquired the store front at the other end of the building, dubbing it “Two Doors Down,” (as it was conveniently located two doors down from the café) with the idea of using it as storage and overflow dining for larger parties and special events. The space had a dirt floor and boarded-up windows, but he was able to begin serving diners within months. Servers in those days would run food down the sidewalk from the Café to Two Doors Down. With its low lights, comfortable bar area and weekly live music, Two Doors Down has become a vibrant dining area with its own following offering BYOB as well as a carefully curated, well-priced wine and beer list.
In 2015, Spicer moved out of the center storefront and Mitch took that space over as well, connecting the two dining rooms, adding additional pantry and private dining/pop-up retail space, and providing access to The Back Porch, an outdoor drinking and dining venue for special events, concerts, parties and just enjoying a beautiful East Dallas evening al fresco.
Today Urbano is a popular neighborhood restaurant in the rapidly changing area of Old East Dallas, just minutes from Downtown, Uptown, Park Cities, Lakewood, and the Swiss Avenue and Munger Place Historic Districts.