Downtown's Long-Awaited Barroco Grill Will Open on...

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If you're a fan of Lakewood's popular Barroco Grill, you have been waiting (at times impatiently) for the opening of the new Warehouse District location, which has endured excruciating construction delays. Well, we now have an opening day.

On March 4, Carlos and Juan Vergara will (finally) open Barroco Grill Downtown (1303 W. 6th St.). The new restaurant will be a faster, more casual version of the original in Lakewood (12906 Madison Ave., 216-221-8127), according to Juan.

"This is downtown, so we want it to be a much faster-paced store than Lakewood, but we don't want people to think of it as fast-food," explains Vergara. "We still put a lot time into prepping and cooking the food."

As at the original, the stars of the show are the arepas, thick corn tortillas that are grilled, split and filled with any number of goodies. What's new is the shape — rectangular arepas, says Vergara, are easier to hold and hold more fillings than the round version.

A new streamlined process should accommodate downtown staffers (and drinkers, come late-night). Much like a Colombian Chipotle, guests will select from an arepa, tostones (fried plantains), baked potato or salad. Meats and veggies are added. And then you hit the sauce bar. If you've dined at Barroco, then you know that the half-dozen housemade sauces (chimichurri, pineapple, ranchero, spicy peanut) are the best part.

Many of the operational changes are geared towards growth, Vergara admits.

"We realize we have something unique and that we'd like everybody to get to know it," he says. "We came to the realization that we have to franchise it eventually because if we don't, somebody else will. We worked way too hard for somebody to take the credit."

The 35-seat café (with generous sidewalk patio) sits immediately next door to Bank Street Wine and Spirits, making BYOB a pain-free proposition.

See you there, amigo.

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