New operators GBOD Hospitality Group, the team behind the Gaslamp's Meze Greek Fusion, will debut Mexican eatery El Chingon in 1919’s former 5th Avenue space later this week with a long weekend of grand opening events that kicks off on Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m. with a RSVP-only red carpet shindig that will include tray-passed bites, cocktail specials, mariachi music and DJs; more surprises are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, when reservations will be required for dining and VIP bottle service. On Sunday, El Chingon is the final stop of the annual Autism Awareness Pub Crawl, when the eatery’s welcome party will feature games, raffles and DJs, while Monday is its night to bring in local hospitality industry friends. Monday also marks the first weekly live Latin jazz night hosted in downstairs speakeasy Prohibition.
El Chingon, which is calling itself a “Bad Ass” Mexican restaurant and bar, is the first of a new pair of 1920s-inspired concepts that GBOD Hospitality Group is bringing to the Gaslamp. Launching next will be Havana 1920, with a Cuban menu of traditional dishes and drinks drafted by GBOD’s beverage director Ryan Andrews, who also created the agave-spirits based lineup for El Chingon. Andrews describes the program as Post Mexican revolution-inspired, agave spirit-focused and approachable; there’s everything from frozen margaritas off the slushy machine to deconstructed Mexican classics like the TJ 1920 old fashioned with Milagro reposado, Mexican cola reduction, R&D cherry apple and sarsaparilla bitters, which is a riff on the batanga. Other drinks include the Madero, with Coralejo Blanco, watermelon cordial, lime and tajin and the Mexican Firing Squad with your choice of tequila, mezcal or sotol mixed with lime, house grenadine, and bitters.
The Mexican eatery’s menu signatures will be tacos, ranging from the al pastor with slow-cooked marinated pork shoulder served with grilled pineapple, pickled red onion, cilantro, salsa verde to Jorge’s taco de pescado, the Ensenada homage featuring battered cod, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, Mexican citrus cream. There will also be standard street tacos, from carne asada to shrimp and shredded beef or chicken, garnished with cilantro, onion and lime available with a “Be Bad Ass” option that wraps the taco filling with fried cheese.