For the past year, chef Arnaldo Castillo (previously of Minero) has been sharing his Peruvian roots through a pop-up dubbed La Chingana. Now, he’s giving his cuisine a permanent home with the opening of Tio Lucho’s, a coastal Peruvian restaurant, in the former CO space in Poncey-Highland. Slated to launch in June, Tio Lucho’s is the brainchild of Castillo and Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Howard Hsu. It’s an ode to Castillo’s heritage with dishes inspired by his upbringing and a name that pays homage to his father, Luis. (Lucho is a nickname for Luis.)
“My dad was a big inspiration for me getting into food,” Castillo says. “I’d done events with Howard [Hsu] in the past and got to test dishes through La Chingana. I want to use seasonal ingredients, local meat, and regional seafood to highlight Peruvian dishes.”
Tio Lucho’s will serve sharable items that reflect Peru’s diverse history, bringing in indigenous, Japanese, Chinese, and Criollo flavors. The menu will be heavy on seafood. Offerings may include ceviche, crudo, and jalea (fried seafood), as well as larger items like a whole cowboy ribeye with plantain fries and quail egg (a play on bistec a lo pobre), and grilled snapper with an escabeche-like preparation.
“I’m excited to bring Peruvian food to the masses,” Castillo says.
Dillon Slay of Kimball House will lead the bar program, creating Latin-inspired cocktails like pisco sours, caipirinhas, frozen margaritas, and chilcanos (similar to Moscow Mules with ginger ale). Wines will stem from Chile and Argentina, as well as Spain and Portugal. Beer offerings include Michelada, Tecate, Modelo, and select local brews.
The 3,000-square-foot space will reflect the greenery of life in Lima and Piura (where Castillo grew up) with plants hanging from the ceiling and use of warm woods and metals. A cement partition is designed to elicit of feelings of a Latin beach house. The 12-seat bar features teal tile on the bottom for a “fish scale look,” Castillo says. There’s also a 50-seat patio, which Hsu and Castillo are considering connecting to the dining room with garage-style doors.
Once Tio Lucho’s is up and running, Hsu will turn his attention to McDonough, where he’s opening a Sweet Auburn Barbecue location in August or September.