Matt Dillon says the former home of Little London Plane will soon assume a new identity as Chicha, a Latin tavern. It's a spinoff of sorts from Copal, the taqueria across Occidental Ave.
Taber Turpin, the chef who coaxes inventive taco combos from Copal's entirely wood-fired kitchen, will also do the food at Chicha; Erin Counts, who runs front-of-house at Copal, will do the same here.
When Dillon describes this new spot as a bar, that's not code for a restaurant with cocktails. "It's just going to have a very little bit of food," he says. "A chill spot for the neighborhood with some inexpensive options, and lots of different Latin American beers." Just like at Copal, his role is that of mostly silent partner.
Limited though food options may be, the options Turpin is currently finalizing sound awfully appealing: sikil pak (a pumpkin seed spread with roots in the Yucatan), vegetable escabeche, the Brazilian dried meat known as carne seca, made in-house. Plus a few larger items like a Cubano, he says, and a few tamales. Nope, no tacos here—that's Copal's thing.
The name refers variously to a fermented maize drink, a style of Latin American cumbia music, and at times even a symbol around which Andean nations frame conversations about cultural identity. Dillon first came to the term through the music—"it's so happy and fun."
Another partner, Eric Fisher, is wrapping up the buildout on the space, which already comes with enormous windows, high ceilings, and the inherent charm of a 1900 brick building in the city's oldest neighborhood. Dillon says they're just waiting for that all-important liquor license. "We're ready; we've been working on it for months."