By Tom Holmes
Joe Fernandez is hoping third time's the charm for Tacabron, his fast-casual Mexican restaurant that opened Nov. 6 at 7330 Harrison. At least three other restaurants — Harrison Street Café, Amelia's and Backyard Kitchen—have shuttered at the same location.
"At first I thought being off of Madison St. would be a little tough," Fernandez said. "But when I came out here I was very impressed with the traffic on Harrison Street."
Fernandez said he hopes nearby the train station, The Park and recreation center help drive foot traffic to the restaurant.
"In the summertime, with kids playing soccer, I hope families grab some take out to eat as they watch the game, or come here for a family meal afterward," he said.
Tacabron's signature dish is its goat taco, which is served on a corn tortilla with onion, cilantro and salsa. The restaurant's name is actually a combination of the Spanish word for taco and goat, which is cabron. Aside from the goat taco, Fernandez's menu is more or less standard Mexican fare—think, burritos, quesadillas, tamales, enchiladas and more.
What makes Tacabron different, Fernandez said, is its fillings for each item, which include chorizo, which is Mexican sausage made on-premises; lengua, or beef tongue; al pastor, or pork marinated with pineapple; and more. Tacabron also serves hot chocolate, cinnamon coffee and Coca-Cola imported from Mexico, made with real cane sugar. Tacabron also stocks six types of Mexican beer, and its own brand of Tequila.
Sally Cody, deputy village clerk, said she recently tried the steak taco salad bowl, and found it fresh and yummy.
"I really liked the freshly sliced avocado on top, it was a nice touch," she said. "The renovation of the space was well done too. It's very clean and has a simplistic arbor/ industrial feel."
Patrons can either order food to-go from the front counter, or sit in Tacabron's dining room, which features handmade wood tables and chairs and seats 50.
Fernandez said he has been in the Mexican restaurant business for years. His father opened his first Mexican restaurant in 1976, and Fernandez said he started washing dishes there at age 13.
"I've done everything," he said. "I still help my father, but now I'm venturing out on my own."
Fernandez is already negotiating for a lease on a property in nearby Lyons to open a similar restaurant.
"I'm feeling pretty good about this business model," he said. "I want to start a Tacabron chain. I want Tacabron to be a brand people recognize. I'm really excited about this concept."
Tacabron is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It features a limited menu in the morning, which includes four breakfast burritos.