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A brand new restaurant called Chicago Empanada Mama is making its debut in West Town, located at 1703 W Chicago Ave.
This woman-owned and operated business is answering the call for craft coffee, hand-made empanadas, and craft cocktails. Owner Inez Melendez recently applied for a liquor license in anticipation of opening her new restaurant in April 2023, according to the company’s website. On top of the delicious empanadas, customers can expect salads, Arroz con gandules (also known as Puerto Rican rice and beans), ceviche, and much more. These recipes are all inspired by her mother’s cooking.
“Empanadas have always been and remain that special item on the table that means family will be gathering,” according to the company’s website. “Empanadas are rich, savory hand-made pies made filled with delicious savory ingredients, folded into light, flaky crust that is deep fried or air-fried to perfection.”
On top of being inspired by her mother’s cooking, Melendez, who was born and raised in Chicago, takes pride in her parent’s Caribbean heritage, both coming from Puerto Rico. There, her mother’s food was the talk of the town. She hopes to honor her mother’s cooking and family’s heritage with this new restaurant. Customers are encouraged to come in the morning for coffee or stay late for a cocktail. This is not to be confused with Empanada Mama & The Pie Man, located in Lake View East at 2933 N Broadway.