By Maria Maxham
A new eatery opened up last week in Forest Park at 7510 Madison St. Owner Frank Garcia and his wife Angeles, from Riverside, say Chirrión is a fresh take on Mexican food in town.
Garcia isn't new to the restaurant business. Since 1997 he and his siblings have run the popular Pancho Pistolas in Bridgeport, which has been featured on Chicago Best, Fox's Good Day Chicago, and is a favorite of radio/television celebrity Mancow.
The Garcias chose to open Chirrión in Forest Park because they fell in love with the area.
"The ambience is great," said Garcia. "It's family oriented. I like seeing families and strollers and people walking dogs."
Garcia was born in Mexico and was 6 when his family moved to the Austin neighborhood in Chicago. In 1987 his father died and he and his seven siblings moved with their mother to Berwyn. A close family, it seemed natural for them to go into business together when they started Pancho Pistolas about 10 years later.
A few years ago, Garcia and his wife decided to open their own restaurant, in addition to staying active with his family-run business.
Garcia says his food at both restaurants stands out because of the high quality and fresh ingredients they use.
"We're known for our steak," he said. "We use outer skirt steak, which can be more expensive and labor intensive to prepare than other cuts of meat. But it's worth it for the quality. We also make our salsa, guacamole and chips fresh every day."
But the focus of Chirrión is on "gourmet tacos," putting a spin on them, such as cabbage or mixed greens as a topping.
Garcia believes in treating his employees well and creating an environment that keeps them happy. "They're like family," he said. In fact, one of the original chefs from Pancho Pistolas still works for him, over 20 years later.
His goal is to serve good food, but to do so in a clean environment where customers feel happy and welcome.
In the warmer months, he plans to offer outdoor seating, and Uber delivery is something he's looking into. For now, though, he wants to create a comfortable atmosphere to serve good food and drinks, including horchata, Jarito and other soft drinks, and margaritas.
He said village hall has been extremely flexible and helpful in opening up his restaurant.
"It's a small space," he said. "We want people to dine in and enjoy the atmosphere, or order and take food to go. And we love to see repeat customers who return because they love the food."