The Intoxicologist

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mercadito Chicago to Open Mid-Summer 2009

CHICAGO (May 27, 2009) – Exquisite tacos, guacamoles, botanas, ceviches…Mexican delicacies with a decidedly modern flair by Chef Patricio Sandoval arrives this summer via Mercadito in the River North neighborhood (108 W. Kinzie Street). Emphasizing superior ingredients and value, Chef Patricio and his brothers/partners, Alfredo and Felipe Sandoval, draw from their childhood under the tutelage of their father, Manuel Sandoval, who once owned the world-class restaurant Madeiras in Acapulco, Mexico, to offer authentic, imaginative Mexican fare.

Mercadito, Spanish for “little market,” is the fourth location for the Sandoval brothers, owners and operators of the popular Mercadito, Mercadito Grove and Mercadito Cantina restaurants in New York City. Having spent years living in and visiting Chicago, the Sandoval brothers are excited to bring their passion for their native country’s cuisine, showcasing both the simple and nuanced ingredients and dishes Mexican fare has to offer.

Chef Patricio, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, has cooked under Chef Peter Hoffman at the legendary Savoy and Chef Terrance Brennan of Picholine in New York City, and alongside his well-known brother, Chef Richard Sandoval, at Maya in New York and San Francisco and Pampano in New York City. He draws his inspiration from his experiences as a child shopping with his mother in Mexico’s open air markets, always gravitating towards the small stalls where local merchants sold native delicacies. Chef Sandoval has never forgotten those delectable, uncomplicated dishes, and strives to capture their flavor and energy at Mercadito.

Mercadito’s menu, boldly flavored with thoughtful variations on Mexican cuisine, is designed for sharing. Guests may begin their meal with a selection of delicious guacamoles, which include the traditional version (tomato, cilantro, onion and serrano chile), or the popular mango guacamole with jicama and chipotle. Nearly a half-dozen ceviches will also be featured on the menu including Callo de Hacha (marinated bay scallops with tomatillo pico de gallo and apple-chile guajillo broth) and Camaron (shrimp, mango, tomatillo pico de gallo and poblano-epazote broth).

Mercadito’s tacos, for which Chef Patricio is best known for, include Pastor (ancho-guajillo rubbed pork, grilled pineapple and chile de arbol salsa); Estilo Baja (beer battered mahi mahi, Mexican-style coleslaw and chipotle aioli); and Camaron (shrimp, roasted garlic, chipotle mojo and avocado). Entrées include Pollo a las Brasas (grilled whole adobo marinated chicken, three corn pico de gallo and chile de arbol salsa) and side dishes such as Arroz Verde al Horno (green rice casserole with manchego and Oaxaca cheese); Elote Mexicano (Mexican-style corn on the cob); and Plátanos Machos (fried plantains).

No culinary journey to Mexico would be complete without an accompaniment of Mexican spirits! Mercadito’s beverage program, created by Tippling Bros. (industry veterans and leading beverage experts, Paul Tanguay and Tad Carducci), features a dizzying array of Mexican tequilas from the restaurant’s tequila-only bar and creative twists on traditional Mexican cocktails, including Mercado (tequila blanco, pineapple, lime and chile piquing); Pepino (tequila blanco, cucumber lime and chile de arbol); and Tres Cítricos (tequila blanco, orange, grapefruit, lime and habanero). An assortment of beers will also be available.

With seating for 120 Mercadito, designed by Seed Design Studio in New York, mixes elements of contemporary Mexican art and craft to create a bold, warm space. The front of the house features a glass, garage-style retractable door and an intimate 35-seat tequila lounge. A beautiful guacamole bar and a centrally located 14-seat communal dining table with custom-designed lanterns made entirely of rope hanging above are just a few of Mercadito’s focal points. Exposed white washed brick walls and columns wrapped in wire mesh surround the dining room, while rope screens add texture and create privacy between banquettes and tables.

Mercadito’s main bar is wrapped in patterned, chocolate-colored leather with a continuous white quartzite top, and the bar’s backdrop is framed by large antique mirror panels with a series of custom-pierced metal pyramids serving as a unique light sculpture.

Mercadito’s walls will also feature pop and graffiti artwork created by well-known artist Erni Vales, best known for his development of the 3-D graffiti style, but also as a creative powerhouse with many successful projects from large scale murals, to art directing films and videos, fashion and photography.

“We look forward to sharing our cuisine and hospitality with Chicago,” says Chef Patricio Sandoval. “We can’t wait to open our doors.”

Mercadito will serve lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 12 midnight. A limited menu for late-night dining will also be available Sunday through Tuesday until 1 a.m.; Wednesday and Thursday until 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m. For reservations, please call (312) 329-9555.

About Mercadito Restaurants
Mercadito Restaurants have grown from their first New York City location in 2004 to becoming a renowned restaurant group specializing in Mexican cuisine and modern taquerias. The popularity of these restaurants can be attributed to the innovative interpretations of traditional Mexican cooking created by Chef Patricio Sandoval. The management team behind Mercadito Restaurants has over 15 years of experience and currently owns and operates three critically-acclaimed restaurants in New York City: Mercadito, Mercadito Grove, and Mercadito Cantina. In addition to the upcoming opening of Mercadito in Chicago, Mercadito will also open in Miami this winter. Mercadito’s partnership with renowned beverage consultants Tippling Bros. adds creativity to their beverage programs that merge complex flavors and the unexpected. For additional information, please visit


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