PILSEN — A longtime chef trained under star chef Rick Bayless is opening his own Mexican restaurant in Pilsen this week.
Chef Alfonso Sotelo is opening 5 Rabanitos Restaurante and Taqueria, an authentic Mexican restaurant, at 1758 W. 18th St. in Pilsen Thursday. Sotelo, who is also known as Alonso in the kitchen, previously worked at Bayless' XOCO, Topolobampo and at West Town Tavern.
The restaurant's name — which means 5 radishes in Spanish — was inspired by Sotelo's childhood nickname. As a kid growing up in Guerrero, Mexico, he and his four older brothers would sell radishes his parents grew in their yard at a local market. When his uncle saw the five boys coming, he would proclaim: "Look! It's the 5 rabanitos," Sotelo said.
Sotelo, 40, immigrated to the United States in 1991, first living in California before landing in Pilsen. Now living in Brighton Park, Sotelo always wanted to be a chef and thought the move would give him more opportunity to experiment with cuisine, developing his own style, he said.
"Always I thought in my dreams that I wanted to open my own place," he said in the restaurant this week. "I always wanted to be a big chef."
Cochinita pibil at chef Alfonso Sotelo's new Mexican restaurant 5 Rabanitos in Pilsen. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
With 5 Rabanitos, Sotelo said he aims to bring his own flavor to Pilsen. The restaurant's menu includes Mexican breakfast dishes ($5.50-$8.25), tacos ($2.25), tortas, tamales, enchiladas, salads, ceviches and dinner entrees with homemade tortillas ($13.50-$14.50).
Bayless said Tuesday that Sotelo's experiences at busy XOCO helped prepare him for the launch of his own restaurant.
"XOCO can get super busy, but Alonso always navigated it without breaking a sweat. That’s a trait — well, that and being a great cook — that will suit him well in his new endeavor," Bayless said. "We're lucky to have had him as part of our Frontera family. We all wish him nothing but great success. Pilsen is in for something special.”
Golden pork carnitas at chef Alfonso Sotelo's new Mexican restaurant 5 Rabanitos in Pilsen. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
The BYOB, sit-down restaurant seats 45 and only accepts cash payments for now.
The Pilsen storefront was previously the home of Pupuseria El Excelente, a Salvadoran restaurant, before it closed in the fall.
Five Rabanitos will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Sotelo joins fellow Bayless vet Anselmo Ramirez in striking out on his own. This summer, Ramirez opened Ixcateco Grill in Albany Park.
Chef Alfonso Sotelo is opening Mexican restaurant 5 Rabanitos at 1758 W. 18th St. in Pilsen on Thursday. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
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