Chef Luis To Reopen As Soon As Friday; Classic Menu Items Returning

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Chef Luis Lopez inside the restaurant on Oct. 19, 2020. Credit: Michael Dinan

Luis Lopez, one of New Canaan’s best-loved chefs, is set to reopen his eponymous restaurant in the heart of the downtown.

Inside Chef Luis at 129 Elm St., set to open soon. Contributed

‘Chef Luis’ and many of the popular Nuevo Latino menu items that made it a go-to destination for food-lovers, could be back as early as Friday, Lopez said.

“I’m very excited, a little nervous because I am concerned about the health of the community,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “So I am trying to make sure we doing everything required and possible to protect everybody.”

The restaurant at 129 Elm St. will focus on takeout to start and is awaiting approval of a liquor permit. Meanwhile, new partitions have been created for those choosing to dine-in, and tables have been rearranged as per public health officials to maintain proper social distancing. 

Inside Chef Luis at 129 Elm St., set to open soon. Contributed

It’s been more than three years since Lopez left the restaurant following a successful 10-year run. Chef Luis held a prominent place among New Canaan’s widely celebrated restaurants and was central to the town’s now-established reputation as a go-to destination for food-lovers. He announced plans to reopen last month.

Town resident Laura Budd, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said, “I know I am not alone in saying that we are excited that Chef Luis will be back on Elm Street. We look forward to working with chef again and are so pleased that New Canaan’s restaurant scene continues to grow.”

Fans of Chef Luis will be greeted with familiar favorites, “hidden” dishes whose names borrow from the locals who inspired Lopez to create them. They include: Sechan’s Calamari (hot chorizo, hot peppers, hot peppers, lemon zest and fresh tomato sauce), Sparks’ Quesadillas (imported four cheese blend, choice of lobster, chicken, beef or vegetarian), Hartnett’s Mussels (lemongrass, red Thai curry, coconut milk and fregola Sarda), Guarnieri’s Fusilli De La Mancha (with white beans, hot chorizo and pesto), Baker’s Pharaoh Island Salmo (teriyaki glaze, rice, spinach and grilled pineapple), Crawford’s Steak Frites (peppercorn cursed filet mignon, garlic parmesan truffle fries and cognac demi glace) and Lupica’s Pasta (spaghetti with shrimp and lobster, imported cherry tomatoes and garlic breadcrumbs). 

Inside Chef Luis at 129 Elm St., set to open soon. Contributed

“And, of course, we are bringing back all the favorite tacos,” Lopez said. 

“I am bringing back pretty much everything people liked when I was here, a little updated for freshness and with some twists of little flavors.”

Luis has modified a partition that separated the bar (food-only, for now) from the main dining area in order to create more space, and though tables are appropriately distanced and therefore fewer, diners also may request additional plastic partitions, he said.

Chef Luis will charge a corking fee for those wishing to BYOB. The restaurant’s phone number for now is 203-594-7601, and will be updated next week to the restaurant’s original number.

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