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Peruvian eats return to the scene, Cheese Grill joins downtown 

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Downtown dairy

In the spot at 26 E. Kiowa St. that in recent years has thwarted Whiskey Dick's, Conscious Table, Downtown Bar-N-Grill and most recently Salud Tequila Bar & Grill, now comes The Cheese Grill (633-1134).

Owner and chef Scott Clark says the concept's a "funky twist on grilled cheeses and mac 'n cheese, but the menu will keep growing — we'll have a couple of cheesecakes and specials like mac 'n cheese spring rolls."

Currently, there's a menu of 14 grilled-cheese-style sandwiches (as in toasted on a flat-top grill and/or in a Salamandar broiler) and seven mac 'n cheese variations. The sandwiches include items like red apple and cheddar; meat loaf and Colby Jack; and a Caprese salad grilled cheese with mozzarella, basil and balsamic-soaked tomatoes. The mac 'n cheese list hosts the likes of a carnitas and Hatch chile dish made with Colby and Béchamel sauce.

Clark received hotel and restaurant management training in the New York state school system before serving as a sous chef on the lower east side of Manhattan and moving to Colorado 18 years ago. He's since been in the construction industry, so this is his first foray back into restaurant life. This idea for The Cheese Grill came, he says, when brainstorming around the space's tiny kitchen.

"I made a blackberry-and-Brie grilled cheese, then six beers later, I was like, 'Let's do all grilled cheeses!'"

He notes some vegetarian items while joking that he's certainly "not Atkins-friendly," or catering to the gluten-free crowd. A full liquor license remains in place with no particular bar focus, though he says he does have a lot of expensive tequila to unload — it, and most of the décor, remain left over from Salud.

Return to Peru

"In Peru, we order pollo a la brasa" (chicken from the grill), says Luis Cremidis, owner of the newly opened 2 Lucho's (2810 S. Academy Blvd., #150, 2luchos.com) in the former Taste of Jerusalem and Michael's Mediterranean spot. His rotisserie chicken rendition differs from others in that it's cooked over charcoal in a brick oven versus by electric or gas heat. The result, he says, is nicely juicy and crispy-skinned.

Other plates such as tostones (fried plantains), papa rellena (pork-stuffed potatoes), Yuca a la Huancauna (cassava under cheese sauce) and lomo saltado (steak stir fry) compose the Peruvian offerings, while American and Greek items are also to be found. Odd as that seems, Cremidis, who grew up in Miami, explains that his grandfather is Greek and his parents are both Peruvian. Both his mom and grandmother cook with him, and the restaurant name hails from the nickname "Lucho," given to guys named "Luis," which is also his dad's name.

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