With one of the largest Mexican populations outside of Mexico, it’s only natural that Chicago is home to some of the best Mexican food north of the border. Restaurants like Rick Bayles’ Frontera and Xoco, Carlos Gaytan’s Mexique, and Richard Sandoval’s upcoming Latinicity get plenty of shine, and let’s not forget all the good stuff in Pilsen and La Villita.
But even in a healthy landscape of Mexican offerings, the 6700 square foot new restaurant Cantina 1910 stands out. The eagerly anticipated project, which opened yesterday, is something like a Mexican food emporium; in addition to its sit down restaurant, the space will house a quick-stop taqueria, a bakery/coffee shop, and a to-go window for pastries (like breakfast churros ?).
Think of it as the expansion of the Eataly/Cafe El Presidente food hall concept that has been gaining steam in NYC. Except that Cantina 1910 will also have a rooftop farm, slated to open next year, keeping its offerings seasonal/local and farm-to-table. And to really make sure the restaurant can stay seasonal – even in Chicago’s freezing months – co-owners Mark Robertson and Mark Sullivan have built the first FDA-certified preservation kitchen in Chicago to complement the farm. This separate kitchen will be wholly devoted to the preservation of ingredients when they’re at their peak, so they can be used in menus and dishes all year long (think: vacuum sealing, canning, freezing, etc.).
The space is the culmination of two years of planning and work, and will definitely be a game changer to the neighborhood of Andersonville, where quality Mexican food offerings are few and far between.
And then there’s the young chef they tapped to help the restaurant: Diana Dávila, who was selected to return to her hometown after an international search for the right candidate. Dávila – who, fun fact, is the the sister of Ambulante California Director Christine Dávila – will be bringing her modern twist to bold regional Mexican flavors, with a focus on the best locally-sourced products. “Diana came to the table with something really unique – it was definitely Mexican, but it was really unique,” co-owner Mark Robertson told Chicagoist.
Dávila’s vision is the result of a lifetime preparing regional Mexican. She started at a young age working in her parents’ Chicago restaurant Hacienda Jalapeños, and spent summers visiting family in her parents’ hometown learning the traditions and traits of the Mexican kitchen. After high school, Dávila left for Oaxaca, where she studied regional cooking, learning the ins and outs of Mexico’s vast offerings. She later spent time working in Washington D.C., as Executive Chef at Jackie’s and Sidebar. At Cantina 1910, her menu includes antojitos like arroz negro with squid picadito dressed in corn crema, tacos (including an Al Pastor she’s determined to make the best in town), and a cemita so epic it’s called “Beast of a Sandwich.”
To wash down Dávila’s creations, customers can sip the cocktail concoctions created by Michael Fawthrop, resident mixologist, who will be turning Cantina 1910’s nights up with Community drinks (i.e. cocktails you can split with four people) with names like “Let’s Split an Uber.”
Cantina 1910 will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So be prepared for a Mexican revolution in Andersonville.
5025 N Clark St
Open from 7AM – 3 PM and from 5 PM – 2 AM.