UPTOWN — When Enrique Cortez closed Riques Cocina Mexicana in Uptown at the end of July, he said it was time to "change gears."
But when he saw the menu for Kie-Gol-Lanee, the restaurant headed to the storefront where he once served Mexican fare, Cortez hopped aboard instead.
"It was very tradition Oaxacan" Cortez said of Kie-Gol-Lanee's menu. "When it comes to Mexican [cuisine] it's something that hasn't been done here in Chicago."
After the closing of Ricques at 5004 N. Sheridan Rd., Cortez said he planned to pursue teaching the culinary arts after becoming burned out from running the restaurant alone.
"For me, it was a lack of help. I could never get a staff and it was exhausting. I was doing the shopping, cleaning and the service," he said.
But the owners, who are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, were able to lure him back with the new concept, he said.
Oaxaca, a state in Southwest Mexico, is where mescal originated but the Sheridan Road spot will be BYOB. The hope is to add mescal to the menu eventually though, Cortez said.
The restaurant is currently testing the equipment and practicing making some of the complex dishes on the menu including tlayuda, sometimes referred to as Mexican pizza, he said. Tlayuda consists of a large, fried or toasted tortilla spread with refried beans, salsa, cheese and meat.
Chilacoyote, a type of squash that can be cooked several ways, is used as an ingredient. Cortez said its taste is similar to watermelon.
Appetizers will range from $4 to $12. The main courses will range from $12 to $17, he said.
The owners of Kie-Gol-Lanee, which means "old stone," hope to open the restaurant in the next 10 days.
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