Derek Dietz's mouth moves faster than just about anyone I've ever met -- but he chalks up his gift of gab to unabashed excitement. The Philly native and CIA graduate is just a few weeks away from opening Bocadillo, a Spanish-influenced sandwich shop and tapas cafe at 4044 Tejon Street, in Sunnyside -- and he has lots to say about it. The restaurant, he tells me, is a joint venture between himself and Andrew Minhinnisk, a fellow culinary school grad, and the Sunnyside dwelling, insists Dietz, is the ideal space in which to pimp bocadillos, which, literally translated, means "small mouth."
But in Spain, a bocadillo is a traditional sandwich, made on a rustic, eight-inch baguette that's cut lengthwise and typically stuffed with Spanish chorizo, Serrano ham or tuna. And that's what Dietz, who moved to Denver last November, intends to turn out at his new red brick storefront, although he allows that his concept is as much about the bocadilllo as it is about creating a European-style sandwich shop that focuses on scratch-made ingredients.
"A bocadillo is a minimalist -- or simplistic -- sandwich, and that's definitely the focus, but we also want to have fun with different foods, not just because of our guests, but because we want to have fun in the kitchen, so we're playing around with a lot of different sandwiches, fresh sausages and pintxos, and we're making just about everything here at the restaurant, except for a few things that we're procuring from Boar's Head," says Dietz, who cooked in Philadelphia and did several stages on the line at restaurants in New York before landing in Denver.
And the board, says Dietz, will change frequently to reflect seasonality and his and Minhinnisk's whims. "The menu will always be evolving, and we'll change things frequently, because that's what makes cooking fun," he notes, adding, too, that the cafe will feature a fresh-squeezed juice bar (there's no liquor license, although Dietz says he may pursue one down the line), a pickling bar with peppers, pickles and chiles and a stash of housemade sauces and ketchups that will change to coincide with the chalkboard menu. The sandwiches, he reveals, will be served on wooden planks, and they'll all come with housemade chips -- kettle, jalapeno or za'atar-dusted pita chips heaped in small metal cages.
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When I toured the space last week, Dietz pointed out that all of the furnishings are hand-crafted, including the tables, which are collages of different artwork by Mexican artists. And the walls, hued pistachio, are mounted with metal cutouts and framed prints depicting bullfighting scenes. "We've spent a hell of a lot of time putting this together, and just about everything we've done, down to the floor work, has been a labor of love," says Dietz
The restaurant, slated to unlock the doors sometime during the third week in June, will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.