PILSEN — When friends asked Chef Eusebio Garcia if he was afraid to open a restaurant across the street from the neighborhood's new powerhouse, Thalia Hall, Garcia just shrugged.
"I said, 'No, why?' I don't look at it that way. I look at my menu, that's it. People that like their menu can go over there, people that like my menu can come here," he said.
Last month, Garcia opened International Grill, a Mediterranean and Mexican restaurant serving brunch, lunch, and dinner at 1236 W. 18th St.
The restaurant, which replaced Benny's Grill, is across from Thalia Hall and Dusek's, restaurateurs' Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden's follow up to the popular Longman & Eagle in Logan Square. Thalia Hall also has a basement bar and a new music hall, which held its first live music show in May.
Chloe Riley walks us through the gorwing popularity of 18th street in Pilsen:
Garcia, who owns International Grill with partner José Cruz, has worked on 18th Street before. The 42-year-old used to be the chef at Mundial Cocina Mestiza, 640 W. 18th St., before it closed five years ago.
Since working at Mundial, Garcia said he's amazed at how quickly the neighborhood has changed.
"18th Street is growing crazy. It's growing fast," said Garcia who said he considered building in other neighborhoods before settling on Pilsen.
"Something told me that I had to come back," he said.
For dinner, International Grill has a range of lighter dishes that play with elements of Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine. Diners will find dishes like Salmon Al Carbon (grilled Alaskan salmon with caramelized mango, green papaya and avocado creme fraiche), Pappardelle Pasta (pasta with sauteed jumbo shrimp, shallots, oyster mushrooms, Swiss chard and roasted garlic butter), and a Chille Relleno (poblano stuffed with sweet corn squash blossoms, zucchini, cheese and salsa).
Brunch — served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. — features omelets, French toast and benedicts as well as more traditional Mexican dishes like huevos rancheros.
The restaurant is also BYOB — with pitchers of homemade non-alcoholic sangria available for purchase.
International Grill is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. Dinner entrees average $19, with brunch entrees around $10.
To make reservations or check out the menu, visit International Grill's website.