Cantina de La Granja previews its cuisine at Midsommarfest

Diana Davilla Cabello | Photo by Elisabet Bernard

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]idsommarfest in Andersonville was hit with a downpour of rain Saturday evening. But despite the heavy rainfall, the sizzle and steam coming from the grill at Cantina de La Granja’s booth remained strong.

Producing a sweet aroma of pork loin underneath the booth’s canopy, the Cantina de La Granja’s team chopped vegetables, cleaned the grill and greeted the occasional customer. Their cheerful dispositions opposed the gloomy weather; and showed another quality that makes Cantina de La Granja even more unique.

Set to open in August, the restaurant will be based on the fundamentals of “farm to table” cooking. And aside from their resilience to the ever-changing Chicago weather, Cantina de La Granja promises to deliver a local twist to Mexican cuisine.

“We hope to source 70 percent of our ingredients from within 150 miles,” co-owner Mike Sullivan, 46, said. “So that means for a lot of Mexican dishes, we’re going to have to find substitutes locally because there are certain things you can’t get within 150 to 200 miles.”

Cantina de La Granja’s concept is a game changer for the Mexican cuisine industry, as the restaurant will also have preservation operations where ripped vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, will be canned and jarred. Sullivan said that this preservation operation will allow the fresh flavors from the produce remain even in their off seasons.

The operations, coupled with locally grown produce, are met by the tenacity and passion of the chefs uniting them.

Executive Chef Diana Davila Cabello, 33, has extensive experience in modern, contemporary cuisine. Despite her ventures into other culinary fields, she credits her Mexican background with guiding her to cook Mexican cuisine.

“The greatest honor to me would be to have the best tacos, especially the best al pastor,” Cabello said. “It’s so good; it is spot on and it also 100 percent represents what we are as a brand.”

Cabello used the term “Midwest Mexican” to describe the fusion between the “soul of comida Mexicana” with the “harvest of the Midwest.”

Cantina de La Granja’s approach to combining modernity with traditional Mexican cuisine makes the restaurant a unique contribution to the Andersonville and Uptown neighborhoods as well as to Chicago.

“The turn out and the response has been great. People seem to love the tacos and they’re really excited to see the restaurant coming,” Sullivan said.

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