From Austin’s new Coyote Cafe (612 W. Sixth) comes the classiest club sandwich you’ll ever eat, and quite possibly the best. Offered as an occasional special at the Texas spin-off of Santa Fe’s original Coyote Cafe, the sandwich makes some key substitutions: Chile-seasoned grilled swordfish stands in for boring old turkey, arugula takes the place of iceberg lettuce, and crisply fried applewood-smoked bacon replaces the listless everyday stuff. But what sets this club above all others is a pair of dynamite condiments: a smoky-sweet tomato relish and a creamy avocado salsa spiked with serranos. Spicy french fries and sweet, crunchy summer pickles make ideal accompaniments.


4 four- to six-ounce swordfish filets
8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
8 to 12 thick slices brioche or other sweetish egg bread
1/4 pound arugula

Season fish with chile rub (see below) and grill to desired doneness. Meanwhile, fry bacon, drain well, and keep warm. Toast brioche. Spread tomato relish (see below) on bottom slice, spread top slice with avocado salsa (see below), and coat middle piece (optional) with both. Stack fish, bacon, and arugula on bread in that order. Serves 4.

In their book Coyote’s Pantry (Ten Speed Press), Coyote Cafe owner and chef Mark Miller and corporate executive chef Mark Kiffin write that rubs, which are really dried marinades, enhance the flavors and textures of meats. Like marinades, rubs can be applied for a long period of time (hours) for large cuts of meat but should be used just before cooking for more delicate ingredients such as fish.

Red Chile Rub

1 tablespoon red chile flakes
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
3/8 cup pure ground red chile (not chili powder)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place chile flakes and oregano in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulse until smooth. Place in a bowl and combine thoroughly with ground chile, sugar, and salt. Keeps in an airtight container for months. Yields about 1/2 cup.

Coyote’s Pantry advises that for best results, vine-ripened tomatoes should be used in the recipe below. Adding a sprig of rosemary or thyme while cooking gives a bright, herbaceous flavor to the relish.

Tomato Relish

2 tomatoes (about 1/2 pound), cut in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup warm water
3/8 cup virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool, and cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice. Meanwhile, rehydrate the sun-dried tomatoes in the warm water, about 20 minutes, and drain. In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and roasted garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, salt, and optional herbs, and bring to a low simmer. Stir in both the roasted and rehydrated tomatoes and continue to cook slowly over medium heat for 20 minutes. Yields about 2 cups.

Avocado Salsa

1 large avocado (about 1/2 pound), peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/4-inch dice
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 Roma tomato, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced serrano chile, with seeds
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Yields about 1 cup.