Brothers Jaime Sotelo, left, and Alfonso Sotelo stand ready in the kitchen of their soon-to-open restaurant Chile Toreado at 2022 W. 35th St., Chicago.

Chile Toreado To Add Spice To Growing Restaurant Scene on 35th Street

Published November 14, 2019

Another new restaurant is bound for 35th Street in the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago with the pending arrival of Chile Toreado, a full-service Mexican restaurant at 2022 W. 35th St. in the space formerly occupied by the Jazzy Bean cafe. Brothers Jaime and Alfonso Sotelo — both fine-dining restaurant vets and longtime McKinley Park neighborhood residents — are rolling out Chile Toreado to accompany Alfonso Sotelo's successful and highly regarded 5 Rabanitos restaurant in the nearby Pilsen neighborhood.

"Always be careful with the chile toreados" is the warning the brothers' grandmother gave them when teaching how to cook what is now the restaurant's signature dish, Jaime Sotelo said. Her recipes and the experience of cooking while growing up impoverished on a farm in Mexico helped expose the brothers to fresh, authentic Mexican food, most of which was gathered and hunted directly from their farm, he said.

"Our family could afford to eat three things," Jaime Sotelo said. "Rabanitos, chile toreados and tortillas."

Chiles Toreados restaurant McKinley Park table setting dishesSample menu items planned at the new restaurant include its namesake chile toreados.The roasted, limey, extra-spicy nature of their grandmother's dish was a natural pick for the restaurant's name, Jaime Sotelo said. "The flavor in chile toreado is unique." 

The menu at Chile Toreado will take cues from 5 Rabanitos, which Alfonso Sotelo will still helm. The new restaurant, which Jaime Sotelo will lead, will offer polished versions of Mexican classics, such as tacos, tortas, main platters and caldos. It will be open for lunch and dinner six days a week and also offer liquor service, including wine, beer, cocktails and special tequilas and mezcal, Jaime Sotelo said.

Fine Dining Chops 

Both brothers leveraged their grandmother's teachings into their work in Chicago's restaurant industry, notably decades of engagement with renowned chef Rick Bayliss at his Frontera Grill and his fine-dining Mexican restaurant Topolobampo. Jaime Sotelo worked every type of role in the front and back of the house at Topolobampo in his 24-year career with Bayliss, he said.

This fine-dining restaurant experience has been invaluable for 5 Rabanitos, Alfonso Sotelo said. "It's been an opportunity to learn many other cooking techniques."

Jaime Sotelo continues his relationship with Bayliss through his bespoke gardening services, he said, raising specialty micro-greens and fresh herbs for use in the restaurants. These are also on the docket for ingredients at Chile Toreado, he said.

Growing Restaurant Corridor

Chile Toreado is opening directly across the street from Pochos, a brunch-forward restaurant opened in August 2019 to wide acclaim. Just around the corner, on Archer Avenue, longtime diner the New Archview Restaurant completed its interior and exterior rehabilitation earlier this year, packing their new patio with breakfast, lunch and brunch diners on sunny summer days.

Further east on 35th Street, Kristoffer's Cakes has offered top-tier tres leches, treats and coffee in its corner storefront cafe space since November 2018. Taqueria La Placita at 1858 W. 35th St. has grown out of the La Placita Chicago grocery store's counter-service restaurant, and Laura's Pizza and Pasta opened earlier in 2019 at 1546 W. 35th St., east of Ashland Avenue. The highly lauded tap room at Marz Community Brewing Co. began offering brews and food to the public in 2018 a block south of 35th Street at the east end of the neighborhood. 

Further west, and just off 35th Street at Western Avenue, Butterdough opened in July 2019 as a cafe and bakery specializing in precisely executed pastries, breads and coffee drinks. At South Archer and South Damen avenues, Mexican seafood specialist La Palapa has continued its service through its property improvements, right next to stalwart, 24/7/364 diner Huck Finn Restaurant, which also underwent a recent interior rehabilitation.

Open ASAP

Jaime and Alfonso Sotelo said they will open Chile Toreado as soon as they can, once they conclude the final processes for the City of Chicago's inspection and licensing requirements. "It's all looking good," Jaime Sotelo said.

The brothers have done some rehabilitation of the Chile Toreado space, including interior decor and furnishings. They were able to leverage the existing kitchen equipment already set up at the restaurant, Alfonso Sotelo said.

Both brothers have lived in the McKinley Park neighborhood for 20 years and wanted to open a restaurant locally, Jaime Sotelo said. "We saw a lot of potential in McKinley Park." 


Log In to comment on this item.