21 Latino-Owned Businesses You Need to Know in Chicago
Be a good neighbor.
One of the more productive hobbies to come out of COVID-19 is identifying new (or reintroducing old favorite) businesses to support. The act of diversifying your shopping habits also means you shake up what can be a pretty monotonous routine. Next time you decide to shop, snack or eat out, consider routing your dollars to a Latino-owned business. The group has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and it's an easy way to be a better neighbor.
Soraya Rendon is the owner of this BYOB eatery, which has made the Michelin Bib Gourmand list for several years. Located on the city’s north side, in a garden unit of a short walkup, the restaurant has turned a neighboring passageway into an outdoor patio. Its abbreviated menu includes grilled pork ribs, mahi mahi ceviche, flautas stuffed with chicken, and empanadas filled with peanut butter for dessert. The restaurant is open for indoor dining, patio dining, and carry-out.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Chicago’s only Costa Rican restaurant. Started by Gerardo Cerdas and Miriam Cerdas-Salazar as a way to take control of their life, the restaurant is now run by their son Henry Cerdas. Expect a lot of veggie, seafood, and meat options at this cash-only cantina with plenty of outdoor seating. Delivery and takeout is also available.
This Colombian steakhouse had to sell Mexican food in order to bring in customers when it first opened in 1991. The availability of Colombian food is growing in Chicago, but Las Tablas is one of the longest standing in the city. Along with hearty helpings of meat, there are plenty of options for vegetarians and killer selection of margaritas that can be enjoyed on an outdoor patio. Indoor dining, pick-up, and delivery is also available.
Mi Tocaya Antojería
Chef Diana Davila racked up the accolades when Mi Tocaya Antojeria opened in 2017. The restaurant offers familiar Mexican favorites, less known regional specialties, and completely new dishes that are inspired by her Mexican heritage. The half pound carne asada dinner comes with salsa, beans, and tortillas for $25. It's one of four main entrees designed for COVID-19 family meals. The restaurant’s small patio offers dining on-site, but a picnic option (complete with a blanket) is also available, along with pick-up and delivery. It was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2019.
Chef Gastón Acurio already operated more than 30 Peruvian restaurants around the world, when he opened Tanta in Chicago. The restaurant features food influenced by the country’s Chinese, Japanese, African, and Italian immigrants. The cebiche party kit feeds four. The restaurant has indoor dining and an open-air terrace. Delivery and curbside pick-up is also available.
Tzuco melds the vibrant flavors of Chef Gaytan’s birth city of Huitzuco, Mexico with French technique. Gaytan is the first Mexican chef to receive a Michelin star and recently became a James Beard Award nominee. Seating is limited and guests are encouraged to reserve in advance due to the restaurant’s popularity. Reservations are required for both indoor dining and for outdoor patio. Brunch and dinner items, which includes boozy beverages, are available for carryout and delivery service via Caviar, Grubhub, and UberEats.
5 Rabbit Brewery
5 Rabbit is the first US-based Latino-owned and inspired brewery. Founded and run by Andrés Araya, the company is named after the children of Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of agave from which tequila and mezcal is made. According to lore, Mayahuel’s lover, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, buried her remains after her grandmother had her murdered. Myth says the first maguey plant bloomed from her remains, symbolizing life. Mayahuel mothered Centzon Tōtōchtin, a group of 400 rabbits considered the gods of drunkenness -- 5 Rabbit was one of the leaders of the 400. Their taproom recently reopened and they are working to bring back additional services. Curbside pick-up is available.
Moreno’s is home to more than 700 tequila varieties -- one of the biggest collections in the Midwest. The store specializes in supplying the city with hard-to-find Mexican spirits. Mike Moreno opened the original store in 1977 and passed it down to his son, also named Mike, who is responsible for the neighborhood’s only speakeasy: Osito’s Tap, a speakeasy that can be accessed through a door in the back of the store.
Curbside pick-up and delivery is available by calling (773) 277-8117
Hidden behind Moreno’s Liquor store is access to Osito’s Tap, a speakeasy bar with a modern Latin flair and classic Chicago vibe. It is the neighborhood’s only watering hole of its kind, and it has outdoor seating for up to 42 people (a strict COVID-19 guidelines including temperature checks, face mask requirements, and a two-hour time limit on tables). Osito’s also offers cocktails, food, and 32-ounce growlers of beer to-go. Look for the Love Fridge to help spot the entrance. Reservations are encouraged.
The Diver is a tropical bungalow hut escape inspired by Mexico’s small, beachside towns. Tulum, Nayarit, and Baja vibes make their way north to this 38-seater serving up small seafood bites such as ceviche, fish tacos, and aguachile, alongside cocktails you find on vacation. A small, outdoor lot has been transformed into a beachy oasis to allow for additional seating at a safe distance.
Brew Brew Coffee and Tea
Brew Brew was designed to be a space that reminds people of their home or travels through Latin American countries. The coffee shop, which also serves up breakfast fare and pastries, is operated by the Medrano siblings who hail from Tijuana. Their second location opened in Pilsen last year but is closed until further notice.
Lalo and Uva Leon are the two brothers behind Butterdough, a small batch bakery on the city’s southside. Every item on the menu, which includes BLTs, croissants, and champurrado -- a hot, chocolate drink from Mexico that gets its heft from cornmeal or masa harina -- is made from scratch. Along with the grab and go options, take and bake items are also available.
Pan Artesanal Bakery
Imagine a piece of cake layered with Duvalín, a Mexican cream candy resembling a soft fudge in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors. Or a jamaica (hibiscus) cheesecake concha . Better yet, what about a Gansito -inspired cheesecake? Gansito is a sponge snack cake with a marshmallow filling, strawberry jam, coated in chocolate, and topped with chocolate sprinkles. Thanks to baker Marisol Espinoza, there is no need to imagine, she brings these wild, Mexican-inspired sweet treats to life. The bakery she co-owns with her sister opens Saturday and Sunday until product runs out. Follow her Instagram to be notified of specials.
With more than 1,000 Mexican and American candies available for purchase at this 4,000 square foot store, this is the Latinx version of Willy Wonka’s gift shop. The store also happens to be the biggest importer of piñatas to the Midwest. With piñatas in the shape of Donald Trump, Corona bottles and emojis, hanging from the ceiling and lining the walls, and bins of candy, the store is a whacky dose of sensory overload. Order online. The company ships nationwide.
Averlado Vergel has been selling a mix of fruit, chips, and frozen treats on the streets of Chicago for the last 15 years. When the pandemic shut down his foot traffic, he took his business to social media and offered to bring his product to people’s doors. With the help of his wife and family, he’s running a delivery service that provides summer favorites like elotes, chicharrones, and raspados. Specials and order info is available on his Facebook page.
This boutique gym is a favorite among the neighborhood residents. Its founder is Lou Centeno, who used exercise as a way to make it through a prison sentence. Unable to find a job after his release, he turned to entrepreneurship and turned his hobby -- which he credits for giving him the mindset to turn his life around and help him beat depression -- into his career.
Jugrnaut Chicago is one of the city’s premier boutiques for streetwear. Brothers Manny and Roger Rodriguez are co-founders of the shop, which opened its doors in 2007 and worked to establish themselves as the go-to spot for fashion kids, hip-hop heads, skaters, and anybody with an interest in various forms of street subculture.
Plant Shop Chicago
Founded by Ozzy Gamez of Belize and Juan Quezada of Mexico, this northside nursery specializes in tropicals, succulents, and cacti. However, a variety of houseplants are sold on a virtual store, via the company’s website, which are then available for curbside pick-up. The online store is restocked weekly.
Semillas Plant Studio
Angie Varela opened her plant shop on July 25, 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. A variety of houseplants are available for purchase in-store Wednesday through Sunday.