Noche Mexican BBQ, Aaron Diaz’s Dia de Los Muertos-themed restaurant, is a few weeks away from opening.
More than a year in the planning, Diaz, says he hopes to soft-open the Mexican-barbecue fusion eatery in early June with several days of events.
Final construction is underway in the space, which is inside the chapel of the former Calvary Lutheran Church on Bardstown Road in the Deer Park neighborhood. Originally, Diaz hoped to open in January, but construction delays got in the way, thanks in part to the historic site zoning processes related to the church, which was built in 1927.
Noche, which is Spanish for “night,” will be a unique addition to Louisville’s dining theme. For starters, the walls will be painted with an ombre effect so that they will grow darker with elevation until reaching the dark wood buttressing. By adding string lighting over the dining room, the restaurant will have an ambiance like being outside on a starry night.
A custom mural will overlook the main dining room, which will feature a 12-seat bar, seating for nearly 100 and an open-space kitchen. Original stained glass hanging light fixtures will remain to complement the original stained-glass windows in the church. Overall, the restaurant will be 3,600 square feet inside.
Outside, Diaz has plans for an 800-square-foot patio area facing Bardstown Road with string lighting to match what’s inside.
The menu is a fusion of Mexican cuisine and Texas barbecue (Diaz and chef Marco Marmol are both from Midland, Texas) inspired by family gatherings, Diaz says.
“Anytime we would celebrate anything,” he says, “we would do it with food.”
The menu will reflect some of those gatherings, with many of the entrees being meat served with garnish and tortillas, from smoked brisket to pulled pork, along with plenty of seafood entrees, ceviche, fajitas and elote. Diners will be able to enjoy complimentary house salsa with chips, and they also can get a flight of specialty salsas. The restaurant also will have a cocktail program, as well as beer.
Marcol says the house specialty will be the shrimp ceviche, but also points to an appetizer called Armadillo Eggs, which are jumbo shrimp and jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, served with pineapple pico de gallo.
The chef says the menu should never be confused with a traditional barbecue joint, nor should it be lumped in with standard Mexican or Tex-Mex fare.
“It’s fusion,” Marcol says. “We do smoked meat and grilled meat, but we also do tacos.”
Diaz is hopeful Louisville will embrace the Dia de los Muertos theme, and not be put off by perceptions that it is a dark holiday due to its representation in calaveras, or animated skulls, and sugar skulls. He and Marcol both believe the tradition, wherein each year from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 families gather by the graves of deceased relatives to honor them, is a noble and sentimental one.
“It’s a beautiful holiday,” Diaz says. “It’s not a scary thing.”
But he chose Louisville rather than his hometown in Texas because, he said: “Louisville is a weird city anyway. I think Louisville is going to love it.”
When Noche opens, it will be for dinner only at first. The goal is to eventually open for brunch daily.
Mike Linnig’s plans to add outdoor dining pavilion
Mike Linnig’s Restaurant is planning to add an enclosed dining area to the existing patio space.
The restaurant’s owners filed plans with Louisville Metro Planning & Design for a 2,280-square-foot pavilion to be constructed within the 15,000-square-foot outdoor dining area, which currently features mostly open-air picnic table seating and décor.
The goal is to create an outdoor dining space that is less weather-dependent, according to the application, which referred to the proposed pavilion as a “three-season” space. The proposed structure is described as a timber pavilion with the sides enclosed with glass panel, garage-style doors. The new structure would be designed to match the existing look and feel of the restaurant and outdoor dining space.
The plan calls for all existing trees and landscaping to remain and for the remaining green space to remain untouched. The application also says pedestrian traffic and parking will not be affected by the construction.
Mike Linning’s, located at 9308 Cane Run Road in Pleasure Ridge Park, originally was opened by Mike and Carrie Linnig in 1925 as a roadside produce stand. The business grew and turned into the fried fish concept, ultimately becoming a Louisville staple. The business is still owned by members of the Linnig family.
Second Barry’s Cheese Steaks & More now open
If you live near downtown, it was a decent haul to make it out to Okolona for a trip to Barry’s Cheese Steaks and More. That trip will be a little shorter now that the second location of Barry Washington’s Philadelphia-inspired restaurant has opened at 1161 S. Second St.
Washington had hoped to open in January. The menu at the Old Louisville location is pared down a bit from the original, focusing on cheesesteaks and burgers. In addition, dining space is limited, as the new location is designed primarily for carry-out.
The new Barry’s Cheese Steaks will be open Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.