SOUTHPORT CORRIDOR — After leaving Spain two years ago for Lakeview, newlyweds Mara Baer and Manuel Moreno scoured their new neighborhood for traditional Spanish spices and dishes.
"We would always say, 'I miss Jamon Iberico, or I can't believe they don't have this product here,'" Baer told DNAinfo Chicago.
Now, the couple aim to fill that void with The Spanish Square, a new Spanish market and tapas bar set to open in early summer.
The 1358 W. Belmont Ave. location, which was formerly El Pacifico, is currently undergoing renovations on "almost every surface," Baer said. The couple hope The Spanish Square will foster a sense of community by hosting wine tastings, flamenco dancing and paella nights.
As for the market and tapas bar, the key will be the authentic Spanish ingredients, Baer said. From saffron to olives and peppers, items will be imported from Spain. The tapas bar will offer hot and cold selections that can be eaten at the market or taken home.
"It's just really exciting to see it all come together. Every time a sample shows up of something we're going to have, it's so fun to realize we used to buy it in the market. I can't believe we will have it here in Chicago," Baer said.
Baer and Moreno met in his hometown, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the southern Andalucia area. The couple shared a passion for food and travel from the start, and decided to move to Chicago to "go after our dream," Baer said. "We're just really happy we get to bring a part of the beautiful Spanish culture and share it with everyone here in Chicago."
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