Restaurateur Frank Scibelli’s new Latin café and cevicheria called Calle Sol has expanded its hours for lunch on weekends.
The Thomas Avenue restaurant is located in the former NC Red and Penguin space.
[Related Axios story: The iconic Penguin sign will be removed and relocated]
What to expect: Calle Sol has a casual café vibe inspired by Latin restaurants in cities like Miami and Tampa, says Scibelli of FS Food Group (Mama Ricotta’s, Paco’s, Midwood Smokehouse, Yafo). You’ll see Cuban and Peruvian flavors in dishes such as ceviche and arroz con pollo.
- Chef Paul Cruz (formerly of Mama Ricotta’s) serves as executive chef at Calle Sol, pulling in El Salvadorian flavors he learned from his grandmother.
- The team also worked with consulting chefs including Ana Quincoces, Cuban celebrity chef formerly of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Miami.”
By day, Calle Sol serves from a to-go window and offers affordable lunch specials. By night, the restaurant has a “sexier” menu, Scibelli says, including a robust rum program.
Menu: The restaurant channels Cuban American communities of the ’60s and ’70s, much like the dishes at sister restaurant Little Mama’s represent Italian-American dishes from decades past.
- There’s also a Chinese influence on the menu seen in dishes like the chaufa, a fried rice dish popular in Peru. Through the 19th century, Chinese workers immigrated to Latin American countries like Cuba and Peru, and their influence in the food remains today.
More highlights include:
- Ceviche ($14-$20) – Five varieties, which come with shrimp, delicate white fish, or both.
- Chaufa ($12-$13) – A fried rice dish with Chinese and Peruvian influences.
- Cubano – Two styles of the famous Cuban-American sandwich: one Tampa-style ($12), one Miami-style ($11).
- Shrimp mojo ($17) – gulf shrimp sauteéd with dry white wine, diced tomatoes, cilantro, mojo and butter.
Find the full menu here.
Flashback: The Plaza Midwood building has seen a lot of change since The Penguin Drive-In closed in 2015 — from an old-school diner to an upscale Mexican restaurant named Comida to the New England-meets-Southern NC Red.
- Now the restaurant has changed hands between two of Charlotte’s most experienced restaurateurs, from Bruce Moffett (Good Food, Barrington’s, Stagioni) to Scibelli.
Scibelli is known for creating gathering places, including Mama Ricotta’s, which will celebrate 30 years next year.
He tells me he’s not concerned about opening Calle Sol in a location that’s seen turnover. “Five restaurants failed in the (Mama Ricotta’s space) before I went there,” he tells me. Calle Sol, he believes, “really fits this neighborhood.”
Hours: Calle Sol is open for dinner on weekdays and lunch and dinner on weekends. Its full hours are 4-9pm on Mon-Thurs, 11am-10pm on Fri-Sat and 11am-9pm on Sun.
Location: 1205 Thomas Ave. in Plaza Midwood.
Here’s a closer look around:
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Editor’s note: This guide was last updated on September 9, 2021.