Just days after WWeek reported the possibility, Johnny Leach confirms it with PoMo: He and former Xico sous chef David Haddow are opening 45-seat Chalino in a new building at the intersection of North Fremont and North Williams (near People’s Pig). Chalino promises “inauthentic” Mexican-inspired fare, something the quickly-shuttered Honky Tonk Taco also claimed, but with Leach’s background, things could go down differently.
Leach is from Beaverton, an alum of David Chang’s Momofuku empire in NYC, and one half of the former Stray Dogs/Stray Birds pop-op, with Peter Cho of Han Oak, the sensational new modern Korean restaurant. PoMo writes:
A sneak peek at the dry-run menu shows about 20 dishes, including tostadas, ceviches, roasted meats, and unusual vegetable/fruit mash-ups, plus a serious salsa mix and a small list of amped-up snacks, like guacamole and toasted spiced pepitas. Mexico is the jumping-off point, with an emphasis on lighter (and light-hearted) dishes and a strong vegetable focus. Leach simply calls it: “food we think is delicious.”
Also included are “plenty of beer and mezcal, and Mexican garage band music.” Chalino hasn’t released an opening date but Leach hints it could be around mid-December if everything goes smoothly.