The new concept from The Spread crew is fresh AF
Over the years the guys at The Spread (Chris Hickey, Christopher Rasile, Andrey Cortes, Shawn Longyear, Chef Carlos Baez) have become good friends of the blog. We love their food, drinks, and doing the obligatory shot (multiple shots) every time we visit. A while back they dropped hints at a new concept they were developing.
That new restaurant idea would be called El Segundo, and it would feature popular street food. As construction began and as they got closer to opening, I was informed that it would be more than what I originally assumed. My assumption was that Latin food would be heavily showcased, and I thought this because of Chef Carlos’ roots, and because he makes some of the area’s best tacos. I was only partially correct. The menu showcases fun street food from every continent, and yes, that even means a Spam, onion, and mustard sandwich from Antarctica!
Before El Segundo opens its doors to the public, they held a few exclusive preview nights to which we were invited to. We had to help one of our blog mates move so we couldn’t make the first night, but we damn well made sure we made it to night two. The sneak peek saw a variety of handheld bites and samples, ice cold beer, a few cocktails, and a hell of good time like only these guys can provide. Food from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe made its way around the room and was met with great indulgence, especially on our part. We tried everything at least once, some things two or three times, and even told the servers, “Don’t even ask us if we want anything, just drop it off, we want EVERYTHING.”
Some of our favorites were the tacos al pastor, with crispy pieces of juicy pork, a few slices of pineapple for sweetness, and a smoky arbol sauce. I’m certain I had like six of these. Keeping with the Latin theme, the Columbian style empanadas filled with seasoned beef and potato also satisfied. Keeping with the filled pocket theme, The Jamaican beef patty was another hit with a flaky pastry dough and relish, aka pikliz, that was spot-on vinegary and spicy.
My personal favorite of the night had to be the mid-rare, and very tender grilled ribeye with a green chile sauce, a take on Filipino Nam Jim, to which I went in on like a hungry lion, sauce splashing in my face and all over my iPhone that I rested on the bar. I’d recommend eating less like an untamed beast, but you’ll want to. Other noteworthy standouts were the slightly spicy and perfect-on-a-cold-day Harira soup (Morocco) with garbanzo and cannelloni beans, and the light tuna spring roll (Japan) filled with crisp, cold veggies, to be dipped in a spicy soy mayo.
To wash it all down, the El Segundo crew had beers flowing and a few cocktails too. We indulged in a few throwback brews like Tecate, PBR, and Pacifico, but the beer menu will include booze from around the globe to match the food, so you’ll likely see a few you haven’t heard of before. The cocktail program, created by Sean Nye, will have global/Tiki-like tastes going on. One that we got to drink (guzzle) was the bottled Japanese Road Soda (sake, gin, lemon, water), a sweet but bright beverage with a slight bite to it. If that’s an indication to what we’re in for, sign us up!
What I was curious about was the speed of it all, meaning WHAT ABOUT THE LUNCH CROWD?
I asked Rasile and Hickey about the speed of service, for those who want to drop in for lunch or takeout but don’t have a ton of time. Me: “So if I come in on a weekday, there are a handful few people before me, I place a takeout order. How long will that take?” They both echoed similar answers. For takeout, 15-20 minutes, and you could call it in ahead of time. And if you’re staying, 30-45 minutes.
Besides all that, what’s great about El Segundo is that it’s different. It’s got this East Village look about it, they play funky music (here’s to hoping for some throwback hip-hop), the menu is affordable with most items $10 or under, and it’s in South Norwalk. I like the outdoor beachy bar shack that’ll combat the Vineyard Vines prep crew on the other side of the fountain. I like that’s it’s unpretentious. I’ll probably get drunk here multiple times. I’ll come here to eat, a lot.
SoNo needs a place like this. You need this place.