New Glenview restaurant known for authentic tacos
El Mexican, which offers carry-out, dine in or delivery service serves quesadillas with a variety of fillings, empanadas, build your own burritos, and salads and more. | Jackie Pilossph~for Sun-Times Media
El Mexican Restaurant
2528 Waukegan Road
Updated: March 15, 2013 11:36AM
GLENVIEW — Fanny Sampson-Cohen is originally from Mexico, and said the tacos at Glenview’s new El Mexican Restaurant are similar to those she ate growing up.
“You can tell they are handmade, even the tortillas, and the meat is well flavored” said Cohen, who lives in Northbrook, “It’s hard to find an authentic place around here, but this is certainly it.”
El Mexican Restaurant was opened three months ago by Jennifer Eisen and her boyfriend, Eloin Amador, two caterers who had been running their four-year-old business, The Roots Catering out of their Northbrook home until their kitchen got too small.
Their business grew to the point they needed a large, professional kitchen, and figured as long as they were renting space, why not open a restaurant? When it came time to choose the menu, Eisen said it was a no-brainer that the food would be Mexican.
“We wanted something casual and fun, and the kind of food we eat all the time at home,” said Eisen, referring to the meals Amador cooks for her, particulary tinga tacos “at least five nights a week.”
Both Eisen and Amador are no stranger to the restaurant business. Eisen holds a culinary arts degree from Kendall College, worked for Catering by Michaels, where she and Amador met, and is currently the chef’s assistant at Girl and the Goat in the city. Amador is originally from Mexico, has been cooking since he was eight years old, and has worked in professional kitchens since 1995.
El Mexican, which offers carry-out, dine in or delivery service, serves quesadillas with a variety of fillings, empanadas, build your own burritos, and salads, including their specialty quinoa salad, made with avocado, tomato, green beans, jicama, red onion, cilantro, and dressed with jalepeno-lime vinaigrette.
Then there are the tacos. Pork, beef, carne asada, vegetarian and tinga do Pollo, of course.
“They have this deep, delicious taste,” said Eisen, “A lot of people don’t know what a fresh tortilla tastes like, and once you have it, it’s hard to go back.”
“Everything here is really, really good,” said Melanie Peterson of Glenview, “The tacos have a nice bite to them, and the food is really, really fresh.”
“I love the tacos,” said 15-year-old Bianca Crockett of Glenview, “They are really fresh and so are the vegetables.”
The restaurant only uses locally-sourced, sustainably grown produce and livestock, which means there are no hormones in the food.
When asked how she makes it all work, with her chef’s assistant job, her catering business and the restaurant, Eisen said it all comes down to family.
“My mom works here, my boyfriend, his brother, we all work here,” she said, “So many times people get burned out of the restaurant business because they don’t have a life outside of the job, but I brought my outside life into this.