Manchamanteles, Chef Geno Bahena’s New Mexican restaurant, Opens in Bucktown

Veteran chef Geno Bahena, the engine behind a flurry of upscale Mexican eating places in Chicago (most just lately Mis Moles), has a brand new restaurant in Bucktown. A outstanding persona within the metropolis’s hospitality scene for many years, Bahena revealed his newest endeavor, a sprawling and colourful spot referred to as Manchamanteles earlier this month at 2009 N. Western Avenue.

Manchamanteles chef and proprietor Geno Bahena.

Manchamanteles is a detour from the house’s previous lives with Bahena bringing complicated moles and culinary abilities to the kitchen. The restaurant, close to the northeast nook of Armitage and Western, was the longtime house of Lazo’s Tacos, a well-liked late-night spot that was simply conflated with fellow nocturnal bastion Arturo’s. Lazo’s briefly gave solution to one other location of Las Fuentes, with a car parking zone transformed to patio house.

Since leaving Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in 1999 and placing out on his personal, Bahena has introduced his huge information of regional Mexican delicacies to many institutions, from Ixcapuzalco to Chilpancingo to Geno’s Bar & Grill, Mi Sueno Su Realidad, and most just lately, Mis Moles, a substitute for longtime neighborhood staple Little Bucharest Bistro that opened in 2020 in Irving Park. He’s additionally labored as a guide for round two dozen different eating places round city, all whereas navigating the inevitable peaks and valleys of the trade. His career is private, too — his mom, Clementina Flores, owns Sol De Mexico in Cragin.

Bahena has since offered Mis Moles, which stays open beneath new administration, and spent a while educating. However in the long run, he can’t steer clear of day-to-day operations. “Being within the restaurant enterprise is my love and fervour,” he says. “Being within the kitchen is what I actually love to do, in order that’s what made me open up (Manchamanteles).”

This newest endeavor leans into Bahena’s specialty — moles — which ought to come as no shock because the restaurant is known as for mole manchamanteles, or “tablecloth stainer,” an iconic and distinctive Oaxacan mole recognized for its wealthy, deep shade (thus the laundry reference) and spicy-sweet taste. It’s considered one of quite a few moles Flores taught him to make and seems on the desk in a plentiful pool under hen cooked on a customized wood-burning grill constructed for Bahena in Texas.

A round plate holds grilled lamb over dark mole.

Borrego en mole negro (rack of lamb, Oaxacan black mole).

A round yellow plate of enchiladas.

Enchiladas potosinas (spicy queso fresco, pink chile salsa).

A large, long restaurant dining room decorated with colorful Mexican streamers.

The huge house seats round 200.

A lot of the menu incorporates that grill, together with the borrego en mole negro, a rack of lamb with a posh Oaxacan black mole, and chuleta de puerco, a pork chop perched atop pipian verde. There’s seafood too, akin to Guerrero-style garlic-marinated scallops with poblano and cilantro, cevice, coctel campechano, and aguiachile rojo de camaron, and massive tequila-based cocktails that will induce some diners to depart their vehicles within the neighboring car parking zone in a single day. ​

The huge new restaurant, which occupies the previous house of shuttered 24-hour taco establishment Lazo’s, is painted an eye catching azure at seats a whopping 200 between a essential eating room that Bahena calls “the salon,” a second interconnected eating room, and a personal celebration house. Chicago muralist Oscar Romero remodeled the restaurant ceiling right into a summery blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds, and vivid yellow and pink hues run all through the house, on the partitions, in paintings, and in fluttering papel picado strung up across the rooms.

Manchamanteles is at present open for dinner and weekend brunch, with plans so as to add lunch service within the coming months.

manchamanteles2009 N. Western Avenue, Open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, reservations reside by way of Tock.

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