It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, and Paladar is the place, possibly the only place, to be in town.
The Latin-influenced restaurant has only been open since August, but clearly word has spread. Every square inch of floor and table space is packed with people, filling the sprawling room with a sociable clamor.
Foolish enough to show up without a reservation, we are told the wait is an hour and a half. We’re handed one of those flashing, vibrating chain-restaurant disks (we’ll chalk it up to just how bustling this place can be) and head for the bar for beverages and a bit of standing room. When two stools open, we pounce, and watch the fashionable, multigenerational crowd.
At 10:30 p.m., we’re finally digging into our entrées, and there’s still not an empty seat in the house. Even more astonishing, couples are still walking through the door.
This is not how Clevelanders usually behave. Local chefs and restaurateurs often complain that everyone wants to eat early and there’s no second wave of late-night diners. But not here. Owner Andy Himmel and executive chef Matthew Mytro — who also work together at Boulevard Blue — seem to have found the magic formula.