DeKALB – Downtown DeKalb is about to get a little bit more vibrant, festive and authentically Mexican with the opening of El Jimador Mexican Grill later this month.
The restaurant is owned by four friends: Rudy Hernandez, Olivia Pacheco, Christopher Cardenas and Ryan Gifford.
Hernandez and Cardenas are from Tamazula de Gordiano, Jalisco, Mexico. Hernandez’s grandfather, Tomas Sanches, is one of the oldest agave harvesters. In Spanish, an agave harvester is known as a “jimador.”
To honor Hernadez’s grandfather and Mexican culture and tradition, the restaurant is named “El Jimador Mexican Grill.” A large mural of Sanches, painted by Sycamore artist Brett Whitacre, decorates the restaurant’s stairwell.
The restaurant, located at 260 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, will tentatively open the last week of September.
The building was purchased May 9 and renovations began two weeks later. Changes to the 8,700-square-foot, three-story building, which used to be O’Leary’s Irish Pub & Grill, include lightening up the space with lighter shades of paint, removing the raised platform seating and adding new kitchen equipment. Booths were replaced with a long turquoise bench seat against the wall.
In addition to a newly renovated restaurant space, Hernandez said the restaurant will offer “real, authentic Mexican food.” The restaurant will use homemade fresh corn tortillas and recipes from Hernandez’s mother.
“We are friends, like family, and we were working at a Mexican restaurant, learning recipes from my mom,” Hernandez said. “She always told us, ‘When you cook with love, you can do anything.’”
“Our roots are a part of us and our restaurant,” Cardenas said. “A lot of people love Mexican food, and we want people to try our food and love it, too.”
In addition to traditional Mexican food, such as enchiladas and burritos, the restaurant will serve different types of tacos, including chicken, shrimp, scallops and steak. The restaurant will also feature signature tacos that will be plated on a cutting board.
“Our signature tacos are made with homemade tortillas in a gourmet style,” Cardenas said. “They’ll be the kind you see in Naperville or Chicago, different from anywhere else, any other restaurant.”
Every month, the menu will change, there will be a taco and cocktail of the month, weekend specials and seasonal drinks in addition to a variety of margaritas, mojitos and tequilas. The restaurant will also offer tableside guacamole and salsa.
Live music performances will be held inside the restaurant, and there are two large overhead garage doors that open on either side of the front entrance, letting in fresh air and light and letting out the restaurant’s music.
When COVID-19 restrictions allow, the upstairs banquet room will feature salsa dancing, Zumba, karaoke and trivia.