By Earl Horlyk | Sioux City Journal
DAKOTA CITY — Toward the front of newly-rechristened Daga’s on Broadway is a reminder of its past.
The dark wood paneling located in a corner is all that remains of the former Hungry’s, a popular steakhouse that occupied the space at 100 N. Main St. for more than two decades.
“People remember Hungry’s as a great place where the food was always terrific,” Tyson Sanchez said, showing off his still being-renovating eatery. “We wanted to retain that piece of Dakota City history with a special V.I.P. table, honoring Hungry’s.”
BIG PLANS FOR A FORMER DAKOTA CITY STEAKHOUSE
However, this nod to the past is the exception and not the rule. After all, the ambitious Sanchez has big plans for the restaurant that is located in Dakota County’s county seat.
Owner of Daga’s on Wheels, a popular food truck business specializing in authentic Mexican street fare, Sanchez wants Daga’s on Broadway to feature a traditional American steakhouse menu with a few tips of the sombrero to south-of-the-border cuisine.
To that end, he has already hired a chef who has experience in upscale eats.
In the back of the cavernous space will be a full-functioning sports bar, which will be unlike anything in the town of slightly more than 1,900 people.
While the steakhouse and bar will remain under construction for the next few months, Sanchez and his crew are currently serving Daga’s on Wheels meals, for takeout or delivery from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Dakota City locale.
“The entire community has been great to work with,” he said. “We want to give Dakota City something very special.”
FROM BRICK-AND-MORTAR TO A FOOD TRUCK AND BACK AGAIN
Sanchez has a lot riding on the business, which actually had its roots in a former brick-and-mortar eatery.
Sanchez’s grandparents arrived in American from their native Jalisco, Mexico, with very little money more than 30 years ago.
Working in the meatpacking industry for decades, they dreamed of opening their own restaurant. Their son purchased a small storefront in Winnebago, Nebraska, as a way for them to retire while doing something that they loved.
Sanchez worked at Daga’s Mexican Grill right out of high school. He learned how to cook from his grandma’s recipes, making smothered burritos and rice that’s fluffy and flavorful like it came straight out of Jalisco.
Eventually, Daga’s on Wheels supplanted Daga’s Mexican Grill as a business. This is why Sanchez decided to close the brick-and-mortar shop a few years ago.
VENERABLE FOOD TRUCK OPERATOR GOES YEAR-ROUND
“I enjoyed the food truck business and Daga’s was lucky enough to have gotten into the field long before there was so much competition,” he explained. “I never thought I’d be involved in another sit-down operation ever again.”
Well, that was until Sanchez built up a dependable staff who wanted to work throughout the year.
This, he said, is the downside to any food truck operation.
“Due to weather, we have to close down for the winter,” Sanchez said. “Every year, we had to hire back staff who may or may not have found other full-time work.”
The importance of an experienced crew became much more relevant during the COVID-19 crisis.
“More traditional restaurants suffered when they had to close down, food trucks remained open,” Sanchez said. “Daga’s On Wheels began its season on a high note and business only increased after that.”
A CULT FOLLOWING BUILT ON QUALITY FARE
It certainly helps that Daga’s on Wheels had built a sizable following with the public over the past five seasons.
Plus Sanchez is convinced that such fans will also flock to the Dakota City location.
Presently, all of Daga’s signature food truck fare is available for takeout and delivery.
It includes tacos, quesadillas and burritos, both traditional and wet. Also available are such specialty items like the Queso Taco (melted mozzarella between two corn tortillas with cilantro and onion) and the Takis Burrito (a burrito filled with steak, guacamole, queso, sour cream and spicy tortilla chips).
Want something more traditional? Check out Daga’s new D.C. Cheeseburger, which is made with an all-beef patty and loaded up with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo, jalapeno, bacon and cream cheese.
“People have really been loving our D.C. Cheeseburger,” Sanchez said.
That’s important since D.C., of course, stands for Dakota City.
“We really want Daga’s on Broadway to become a destination place for Dakota City,” Sanchez said. “We want to bring people to town.”
Does that mean the end of Daga’s on Wheels? No way, according to Sanchez.
“The food trucks will be back in the spring,” he said. “Then, there will be more ways to get Daga’s food.”