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Fast-Casual Peruvian Restaurant Criollo Opens This Week on Gay Street

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Fast-Casual Peruvian Restaurant Criollo Opens This Week on Gay StreetCriollo, 51 E. Gay St. Photo by Lauren Sega.
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A new lunch spot is opening up on Gay Street on Tuesday.

Criollo (pronounced cree-oh-yo) is serving up fast casual Peruvian eats at 51 E. Gay St., the former home of The Carvery. It’s run by Guillermo Perez, who owns the Pearl Alley sandwich shop Si Señor.

“I’m excited, because it’s Gay Street. I’ve always been hiding in the back, the guy in the alley that nobody sees,” says Perez. “It’s nice to be called a hidden gem, but I don’t want to be hidden anymore.”

Criollo is now open for lunch, operating daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aiming for speed, it’ll function much like a Brassica. Guests start with their base, choosing from green rice, white rice, quinoa or lettuce; add white beans or lentils; and then select a protein. There’s Peruvian beef stew; chicken in walnut cream sauce; pork loin marinated with panca (Peruvian red pepper) and honey; and mushrooms cooked with garlic and white wine.

For toppings, guests can select from a corn salad, beet salad, cucumber salad, lettuce or “Sarza Criolla,” a blend of cilantro, boiled or pickled beets, boiled potatoes, avocado, chili peppers and tomatoes. Sauces range from mild to hot. There are a number of sides, including guacomole, french fries, fried yuca, plantains, solterito salad, and beet salad. Along with fountain drinks, there’s also passion fruit juice and chicha morada, a sangria-like mocktail that gets its color from dried purple corn.

An entree at Criollo will cost up to $11, and sides range from $2.50 to $3.50.

Perez is in the process of getting his liquor license for the restaurant. He anticipates hosting up to three taps offering local brews within a couple of months.

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