Exclusive first look: Ay Caramba! opens in Cherry Creek
All photos by Lori Midson.
Alex Gurevich, who owns Limón, a Latin American lounge in Uptown, as well as My other Bar on Seventh Avenue, wasn't in the market for a third restaurant, but after his ex-wife vacated Bisque last June, the Cherry Creek North space became available. And since Gurevich held the note to that space, he figured, what the hell?
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"I own the space and was initially planning to sell it," says Gurevich, but the deal fell through, he adds, and rather than deal with another potential buyer, Gurevich made the decision to snatch it up himself. "I spent three months in Florida with my kids, and when I got back to Denver, I felt rejuvenated and invigorated, and since the original deal didn't pan out, I figured I may as well do another restaurant."
Except he didn't have a concept. But his friend and neighbor, Jorge Alonso, who owns Vinue, a swanky, flirtatious wine bar just steps way from the former Bisque, had a few ideas. Alonso, an ex-partner in Grupo Anderson's, the Mexican restaurant conglomerate that owns Señor Frog's, suggested that Gurevich bring tortas to Cherry Creek. "We met, chatted, had the same synergy, and he thought the tortas would be a big draw in this neighborhood," says Gurevich, who then traveled to Mexico City, Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles for inspiration.
"We knew we wanted to do tortas, but we knew, too, that we wanted them to be authentic and refined," explains Gurevich, who named his restaurant Ay Caramba!, which can translate to a couple of different exclamations in Spanish, usually, "Oh, my God!", or "Holy crap!"
Gurevich opened Ay Caramba! this weekend, pimping a board of fifteen different Mexican street sandwiches. He uses bolillo bread, baked at a local panaderia, and smears the crusty rolls with black refried beans stacked with everything from roasted poblano chiles and Negro Modelo-braised pork to eggs and chorizo. There are no tacos, no burritos, no enchiladas -- just tortas, charro beans, a few side dishes, salads and soups, and guacamole, which can be dressed with queso fresco, rajas, bacon, charred corn or toasted pepitas.