Bread, butter, cheese and heat. And when you combine them just right, what you have is soft, crunchy and hits every note between simple satisfaction and delirious delight.
John Harris, Joe Morris and Cody Rowan are veterans of the local restaurant business. For their first joint venture, The Mule, with longtime friend Roger Eleftherakis, they wanted to create a place with “honest food.” That means putting in hard work without taking shortcuts. The Mule is located in the Plaza District at 1630 N. Blackwelder.
If that sounds a little heavy for a bar that will serve a variety of grilled sandwiches, you probably haven’t tried to open your own restaurant.
“We’ve been working on this idea for a year and a half, two years,” said Morris. That’s two years of getting together on weekends and nights off just cooking, experimenting and refining. The end result is a menu of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches they’re eager to share.
That includes the likes of the Macaroni Pony, which combines a three-cheese macaroni and cheese, pickled onions and chipotle barbecue pulled pork on jalapeño cornbread.
For those seeking out a simple grilled cheese sandwich, well, there isn’t one.
Not a simple one, anyway. The Ultimate Grilled Cheese comes with five different cheeses (you can choose or leave it up to them) on grilled cottage white bread.
Another option is the Cortez — a sourdough sandwich filled with braised short ribs, queso fresco, pepper jack, grilled jalapeño, caramelized onions and pico de gallo.
Rowan said their aim is to be welcoming to all, whether you’re looking for a late-night drink, a quick lunch or bringing your kids. Which is why they’ve added a sandwich for that least-included group of diners: vegans.
The Herbivore melts cashew cheese over roasted beets, mushroom, sun-dried tomato and avocado, all on cottage white bread.
All sandwiches comes with a side your choice of house-cut fries, onion rings, soup or a side salad.
Not on the menu: mule. Although they did consider it.
“We were looking for a taxidermied mule head, but we haven’t been able to find one,” said Harris. “So we joked about just buying a mule.”
The name actually comes from an old saying: “Don’t worry about the mule; just load the wagon.”
Instead of a mule’s head, they settled for art designed by The Foundry Collective. The atmosphere comes together as laid-back and easygoing; precisely what the owners want.
“We’ll be working here. There will always be one of us around, so we wanted a place where we’d want to hang out,” Morris said.
With local Coop and Mustang beers on tap, the owners are hoping to draw in drinkers with refined palates by offering a selection of bourbon and cocktails.
The restaurant seats about 80, including stools at the bar. Rowan said they plan to use the patio when the temperatures get more tolerable.
“The Plaza District is such a walking friendly place. We want to attract people from all over,” he said.