I was just at a restaurant that ran out of grilled cheese sandwiches. The most basic cheese-bread-and-butter Americana on Earth. (“What is this, the USSR?” the grump in the chair next to me protested.)
Now I’m saddled with this mad craving for grilled cheese.
And looking at the soon-to-open Chaplos Restaurant & Bar menu, wouldn’t you know Norma Martinez is promising to do hers with blue cheese, salt-crusted baked pears, prosciutto and arugula?
But I can’t have the former El Vitral chef’s $11 sandwich until the official Chaplos opening (next Monday for lunch; Tuesday for dinner).
Chaplos will be a throwback Americana social hub, I’m told. It takes its name from owner Edwin Seymour’s father-in-law. Found on the corner of 10th and B, near the Vantage Pointe high-rise apartments, Chaplos is good news for the Civic Core area and surrounding vintage Cortez Hill neighborhood (which takes its name from the historic El Cortez Hotel). There’s not really a second living room for the residents of those Victorian-style homes and $2,000-one-bedrooms--unless you count that risotto-and-lasagna spot on the ground floor of the El Cortez, Sole Luna Cafe.
Branching out from the upscale Mexican food that Tijuana-born chef Martinez did at El Vitral, her draft of Chaplos’ menu has green-lipped mussels piggybacking Manila clams; pork ribs braised in Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale; 16-ounce bone-in ribeyes; a burger. OK there’s evidence of some Latin influence on this menu: empanadas; local fish with guajillo peppers, egg and chorizo green salsa; ceviche.
There’s a lot of Italian dishes for a place billed as Americana (housemade meatballs with penne pasta; house-made ravioli; grilled polenta; caprese flatbreads). But if there’s anything Italians influenced more than the 1940s-50s American songbook, it’s the American diet.
With inside-only seating, there's old-timey décor (Art Nouveau Tiffany lamps hanging from the ceiling; elegant mirrors). You’ll get your communal table, your booth seating, your antique bar with classic cocktails, and, surrounding the 128-capacity room, at least one barn-wood covered wall, and at least one dark-cushion covered wall.
But I feel a fire in my belly for that grilled cheese sandwich.
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