Everybody knows tacos, but south of the equator, flour tortilla wraps filled with meat and veggies are usually fried and come in the form of empanadas. Come late summer, foodies will be able to find this traditional dish and other Uruguayan-influenced foods at Orejano. Husband and wife Marcelo Alvariza and Maria Griselda Aguero are in the process of permitting and construction of their location at 800 S. Havana St.
“It’s a full remodel right now,” Alvariza told What Now Denver. “If I could pick a day (for opening), August 25 is Uruguay’s Independence Day and my daughter’s birthday. The 27th is me and my son’s birthday, and September 6 is my dad’s birthday.”
Family is the name of the game at Orejano. The moniker was the nickname of Alvariza’s father, whose passion was cooking, as evidenced by the last photo taken of him, hard at work in the kitchen in Uruguay.
“Orejano are the cowboys, the gauchos with a free spirit, following their own rules, respecting all different people, treating everyone rich and poor the same way,” Alvariza said.
This influence goes back through the couples’ roots, an Italian grandmother, and immigrant parents from Spain and Germany. This leads to a veritable feast of food. Alvariza has a total of 38 empanadas recipes, of which he’ll serve 14 to begin at Orejano, all on handmade dough. In the spirit of welcoming everyone to the restaurant, there will be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free empanadas available.
In addition to the fried pastries, Orejano will serve up three different types of salads and three kinds of traditional Milanesa sandwiches — typically served on a baguette and served with schnitzel or other meat. This will include Uruguay’s national sandwich, the chivito, which will be served bacon, fried egg and all the fixins’. Fries or salad options will accompanies full plates.
Orejano will spread out over 1,600 square feet and owners aim to offer up about 60 seats inside. The next step will be adding a patio as well, but that is still in the permit process. Alvariza and Aguero plan to open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.