Gwacamole, A Girls-Owned Mexican Restaurant Impressed By Household Recipes, Opens In Portage Park

PORTAGE PARK — After working within the kitchens of assorted Chicago eating places for 15 years, Isabel Leyva determined it was time to attempt working her personal enterprise.

Leyva, along with her sister and pal opened Gwacamole, a Mexican restaurant with meals from the state of Michoacán, to start with of October at 6011 W. Irving Park Highway.

Gwacamole presents well-liked objects akin to tamales, flautas and birria tacos, all with a home made contact utilizing Leyva’s mom’s recipes, she mentioned.

“She at all times taught us the best way to cook dinner this type of meals, so we try to present folks the expertise, like in case you are consuming actual Mexican meals,” Leyva mentioned. “We wish folks to have a distinct expertise than the common Mexican-American expertise.”

Though Leyva’s mom died two years in the past, she mentioned she is aware of her mom can be pleased with her and her sister. She’s additionally completely satisfied the restaurant is all women-owned and -operated and offers alternatives to girls within the trade, she mentioned.

With particular seasoning, sauces and different elements native to Michoacán and the Leyva household kitchen, like avocado aioli, the house owners hope clients will style a extra genuine dish than extra widespread Mexican-American or Tex-Mex cuisines, she mentioned.

The restaurant’s identify, a play on the phrase “guacamole,” was chosen due to guacamole’s recognition and illustration of Mexican delicacies, the proprietor mentioned. It’s a transparent image of the tradition and meals, each for Mexicans and in different cultures.

“When folks from different cultures hear ‘guacamole,’ they know that it’s going to be one thing from Mexico,” Leyva mentioned.

The restaurant takes over the spot that previously housed Volcano Specific Japanese Grill & Sushi, which closed over the summer season after being open for lower than a yr. Earlier than that, it was dwelling to an empanada store that closed in 2021.

Seating inside Gwacamole, 6011 W. Irving Park Highway, is seen Nov. 8, 2023. Credit score: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Membership Chicago

The small restaurant is painted in inexperienced to characterize guacamole, however house owners didn’t want to vary the area a lot because it’s been outfitted for a restaurant for years.

Leyva, who has labored in Chinese language, Mexican and American kitchens and works part-time at a Hibachi enterprise on the South Facet, is pals with one of many Volcano Specific house owners. After they reached out to her asking if she wished to take over the Portage Park spot, she thought it an excellent alternative to develop.

“We noticed a chance to open a small enterprise new to the world,” she mentioned. “I don’t find out about different folks, however once you work within the trade, you at all times assume that perhaps you’ll be able to open your personal. So I wished to open this as a result of I need to attempt one thing new … and to present folks an at-home really feel.”

Along with Mexican objects, Gwacamole’s menu has an avocado sandwich, a steak sandwich, salads and birria ramen.

Leyva, who lives in Archer Heights, hopes to get to know the neighborhood and that extra folks help the native enterprise.

Gwacamole is open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-8:40 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-9:40 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 12-8:40 p.m. Sundays.

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