A veteran Tucson chef has opened a South American sandwich shop in the former home of Cafe Marcel.
Irene Echeandia's Latin Up Sandwich Shop features sandwiches from her namesake downtown restaurant Irene's, which closed in the mid-2000s. Echeandia, who is originally from New Jersey, learned to cook from her multicultural family. Her father, who was a truck driver from Brazil, met her mother in Lima, Peru before they moved to the United States.
The order-at-the-counter cafe serves an eclectic menu of salads and sandwiches like the chimichurri steak, or turkey cooked in cilantro sauce with apples and black bean spread. (Also be a quinoa burger.) At the Viva la Local food festival, La Plancha was grilling up a hearty sweet potato and chicharron pork sandwich that exploded with piquant salsa criolla, a Peruvian red onion relish.
At their food festival debut, the family team was also pouring lovely cups of sweet chicha morada that had been spiced with cinnamon. For those who don't know the Peruvian specialty, chicha morada is a refreshing fruit drink brewed with Andean purple corn. A great choice as the summer heats up ...
And just in case you were wondering, there will be huancaína! The rich Peruvian cheese sauce will make its way onto the menu as both a papa huancaína salad, and a sandwich with roast beef and shoestring potatoes inside. At the festival, the silken spread was used as a dipping sauce for a fried Brazilian coxinha croquette.
Echeandia is importing aji peppers from Peru, which will go into a punchy aji mayo. Other ingredients will come from local farmers markets. The bread is from the nearby Small Planet Bakery.
Sandwiches will be affordable at $7.95, with a pickle and your choice of chips, including plantain. Other dinner items will also make their way on as weekly specials. Starting hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Former tenants Cafe Marcel opened today in their new spot at 2281 N. Oracle Road. Check back at tucson.com/dining for more information on the new location ...