AVONDALE — After years of waiting, bartending and managing at various Chicago restaurants, Jorge Pizana and Jorge Manzano decided to strike out on their own.
Their combined experience has culminated in Tacos Tequilas, 2919 N. Milwaukee Ave., the newest arrival to an Avondale block that's seen plenty of action in recent months with the openings of La Farine Bakery & Cafe and Delicias Natural.
"We've been working in the business for over 20 years, and then we decided to have a new experience," Pizana said. This is a new, hot neighborhood. It's changing, so we came up with a new, fresh concept."
As the name implies, there will be plenty of tacos — and plenty of tequila.
"The idea is that we'll have a list of tequilas, but also have house cocktails with the tequila," said Manzano.
For now though, it's BYOB. They are waiting on a liquor license from the city, which they hope to have by the end of the year.
Until then there is much food to be had, but not just the tacos most Americans are used to — the Northern Mexican variety. There's an assortment of tacos and plates from other regions of the country.
For instance, their cochinita pibil taco, made with pork slow roasted in a citrus achiote marinade, has its roots in the Yucatan Peninsula.
"Not many places do this kind of taco," Mansano said.
Some other dishes less commonly found are uchepos gratinados — corn tamales drizzled with a roasted chilaca pepper sauce and cheese — from the central Mexican state of Michoacan, and a shrimp cocktail prepared in a fashion typical to the southwestern state of Guerrero — with tamazula hot sauce, avocado and pico de gallo.
"That's why this place — it's a Mexican restaurant with a twist," said Mansano.
The decor also bolsters the authentic Mexican feel.
A colorful Day of the Dead display is set up near the front of the restaurant, complete with photos of lost loved ones, and wallpapering the back wall are images of famous Mexicans, including Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Maria Felix and Pedro Infante, to name a few.
But most important to both Jorges, is creating a laid-back atmosphere where people can enjoy a few drinks with friends along with ceviche and molcajete surtido.
As Pizana summed it up, "relaxing, good food, good service."