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Often when a restaurateur opens a second restaurant, he or she does so within the same general vicinity of the first spot. Not so with Johnny Ballen, co-owner of the Squeaky Bean downtown. His second restaurant, Cochino Tacos, will open in Englewood at the end of April. Ballen, who has lived in the area for 12 years, explains his reasoning as such: ”Englewood is kind of starved for a fun little neighborhood hangout,” he says. ”I wanted to take some of the design and energy that’s in downtown, LoDo, and RiNo and bring it over here.” And so, Cochino, which will serve lunch and dinner daily and brunch on the weekends, was hatched.
For Squeaky Bean fans, this is not a suburban remake of the eatery. Instead the 60-seat restaurant is an entirely new concept. Cochino (which means pig in Spanish) will largely function as a taqueria with a heavy emphasis on pork. The menu, which Vinny Sosa of Work & Class will consult on, will also include fish, chicken, and vegetarian tacos, as well as a few salads. Ballen ensures the lineup will have flair with choices like a crispy pigs ear and seafood taco. He also plans to put a burger topped with green chiles and queso on the board. ”It’s not the Bean’s burger; it’s going to be more like a New Mexican burger with shredded lettuce and Hatch green chile strips. And how great would it be with melty queso on it?”
The space, which was an old 1950s Phillips 66 filling station, is in the midst of construction. The floors have been laid in the kitchen and bar, the hood has been installed, and Ballen had the parking lot redone. He has the liquor license in hand and he’s considering installing a Tesla charging station. For now, though, we wait, the promise of a pig ear and seafood taco propelling us—and Englewood—through the next six weeks.
3495 S. Downing St., Englewood