UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — After more than a year of anticipation, the two sisters behind West Town's popular Gaudi Cafe unveiled El Metro, a Mexican street food eatery that opened Tuesday at the southeast corner of Chicago and Damen avenues.
The 45-seat corner eatery at 1959 W. Chicago Ave. offers a menu focused on tacos, sides, desserts and nonalcoholic drinks.
El Metro's ownership includes sisters Betty Romo and Veronica Pineau, who own Gaudi Cafe at 1147 W. Grand Ave. in West Town.
Dan Andrews, a longtime customer of Gaudi Cafe, is also a co-owner.
Pineau, who grew up in Mexico City, said the name for the restaurant drew its inspiration from Mexico City's El Metro public transit system.
El Metro is "where you can get anything for $1" from vendors hawking goods to street vendors selling food just outside the stations, Pineau said.
Pineau said her favorite items on the new menu were cochina pibil tacos, made with slow roasted pork, pickled red onion and habanero sauce and pombazos, which are bread soaked in Guajillo chili pepper sauce and stuffed with potatoes, sausage, lettuce, sour cream and cheese.
The menu offers seven varieties of tacos, including pork, chicken, fish, potato, corn and pork belly.
A "taco de alambre de pollo" contains chopped chicken with bacon, ham and turkey marinated in Maggi vegetable seasoning sauce with green peppers.
Botanas or sides include cebollitas de cambray, or grilled onions with lime as well as chips served with salsa and guacamole.
Desserts include corn flan and bunuelos, or a bag of cinnamon crisps, a three leches milkshake and an "abeulita de Batman" milkshake.
"Batman never had a grandma that could prepare this [shake] otherwise he would've been able to fly," the menu says.
Prices range from $3 to $5.60 on the latest draft of the menu, which is still under revision, on the eatery's website.
The owners attended to last-minute details late Monday, including hanging "now open" signs in the window.
Initially having hoped to be open last spring, Andrews said the delay in opening was caused by construction.
"It needed a lot of work," Andrews said, adding that two layers of the ceiling needed to be peeled back to reveal and restore the building's original tin ceilings, along with plumbing work that included adding two bathrooms.
The storefront was previously home to Lorraine's Diner, a greasy spoon that shuttered in December 2012.
Pineau, 31, said she would be leading the day-to-day operations at El Metro, while Romo, 33, would focus on running Gaudi Cafe.
El Metro, 1959 W. Chicago Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 312-666-5941.
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