LOGAN SQUARE — In a neighborhood that has no shortage of taco and torta joints, there was little reason expect much from L'Patron when it opened in late 2012.
Owner Ernesto Gonzalez, a Frontera Grill veteran and carne asada guru, wasn't messing around though. Now just a little over a year later, L'Patron has become something of a neighborhood institution.
The tiny little takeout joint is packed wall to wall during weekday lunch hours and weekend nights alike, and more savvy customers have now taken to calling ahead to avoid the nearly omnipresent lines.
"Yeah, we've been doing pretty well — especially on the weekends," Gonzalez said modestly, in his easy laid-back manner.
It's hard to imagine he could be so relaxed with the near constant movement inside L'Patron as carne asada is fried, tortillas are toasted and the horchata flows freely.
An expansion into the building next door will come as a huge boon to the tiny restaurant, which now just seats six on a skinny little bar around the window. Most of its business is carry out — and Gonzalez expects it to stay that way — but as a BYOB spot, plenty of folks are more inclined to linger on weekend nights.
"We're getting some tables and getting a bigger kitchen," Gonzalez said. "It's going to be more of a counter service still, but with maybe about five tables."
In addition to more room for diners to sit down, Gonzalez also plans to introduce new dishes, though exactly what will be something of a surprise, perhaps even a weekly surprise depending on what local ingredients are available.
"I'm going to add one dish, like a rotating dish that will change each week — but it'll be really good," he said. "Just to have something different than tacos."
Gonzalez said the renovation work will begin soon and hopes to be up an running in the new space within a couple of months.