Depot Nuevo: Latin Flair in a New Old Train Station
In addition to the authentic Latin cuisine, Depot Nuevo is a great spot to enjoy a classic margarita. JACKIE PILOSSOPH~For Sun-Times Media
1139 Wilmette Ave.
Hours: Mon-Thurs. 5-9 p.m., Fri and Sat. 5-10 p.m., Sun 4:30-8:30 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2012 10:00AM
WILMETTE — “We want people to walk in and say, ‘I’m on vacation!’ ”
That’s what Rob and Ann Garrison, owners of Depot Nuevo, say about their Latin American Restaurant in downtown Wilmette.
“You can’t not be happy with bright orange walls,” Ann says of the vibrant Latin American décor they chose for the restaurant that’s known for its tacos — particularly the barbecue short rib tacos — Argentinean-style flank steak, duck breast and, of course, their classic margarita.
Dean and Rene Sheike, of Evanston, are frequent Depot Nuevo customers.
“The chips and salsa are delicious and these are the best tacos in the area,” says Rene.
“We really love the food,” says Dean. “It’s got great flavor.”
“We make everything here from scratch,” says Rob, who with his wife also owns The Noodle Café, which has been open in Wilmette for 22 years. “Our chef is very creative. His quality control is great and he cooks with passion.”
Depot Nuevo has been in business for four years, and the Garrisons say they found and fell in love with the building and the location before they even decided on the concept of their restaurant.
“I came to see this place and I knew,” says Rob.
Depot Nuevo’s building has lots of history. Built in 1873, it was the original Wilmette train station, however, it was located on the wrong side of the tracks, which served no purpose for commuters. Therefore, a new train station was built, and this one was boarded up and used for storage until 1974, when it was put on trucks and moved to Wilmette Avenue, where it stands now.
It has been the home of several cable companies and the now closed restaurant, Old Ouilmette Depot. Before opening, the Garrison’s gave it a thorough renovation and built an addition.
“We came here tonight to sit outside,” says customer Will Erin of Evanston. “We really like Mexican food and we feel there aren’t many Mexican places around here, and this one is great.”
As far as deciding on Latin American, Rob says it came down to two questions.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What kind of food do we think people would enjoy and what kind of food wasn’t represented around here.’ ”
The Garrisons have two children and are Wilmette residents. They say they truly love having a business in the town where they live.
“It’s so much fun,” says Ann. “You get to celebrate with people when they come in for graduations and birthdays and other special occasions.”
“There are so many funny stories,” says Rob. “It’s great connecting with people when they stop in and it’s great to catch up with them.”
Entrees at Depot Nuevo range from $12 to $22, appetizers from $4-$10 and desserts from $6-$7. The restaurant offers carry out service and has a great outdoor patio.
Katie Manganaro has worked at the restaurant for almost a year.
“This is such a fun place to work and to be,” she says. “You don’t feel like you’re going to work, you feel like you’re hanging out with your friends.”
“Wilmette is very well educated, and they know the quality of food,” says Ann. “And most importantly, they’re very loyal.