Kankakee's Mexican Restaurants Sizzle

Get your taco fix at these local establishments

On Monday, April 25, 2011 - 13:05

Mexico is a thousand miles from Kankakee County, but top Mexican restaurants are within close reach for area residents. In fact, spice is the variety of life at nearly a dozen Mexican restaurants thriving in Aroma Park, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Kankakee and Manteno. Among the newest eateries to join the taco, burrito and enchilada lineup is El Mexicano, which opened in December 2009 on Riverstone Parkway in Kankakee. Owners Tommy Lopez and his brother-in-law, Luis Covarrubias, say their business is already successful because of the fresh ingredients they offer, and the attention to cleanliness that the two men demand in their business.

“I guess our most popular item so far has been the paella, a rice dish that is cooked to perfection over an open fire,” Covarrubias says. “The rice entree includes generous portions of meat, green vegetables, tomatoes and beans, plus plenty of spices, such as paprika and rosemary. Garlic is also optional for customers who dare.”

The sit-down restaurant not only serves excellent food, but does so in a festive, Mexican-decor atmosphere. The booths, floor and full bar are colorfully decorated, and the tabletops throughout the restaurant are adorned with different patterned tiles.

Mmm: Quesadilla Supremes
In Bradley, a restaurant called El Campesino offers authentic Mexican cuisine, and the owners say that customers are served “the best margaritas in Illinois.” One of the most popular menu items at El Campesino is a one-pound super burrito stuffed with chicken or beef, topped with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream, and featuring a side choice of either rice or refried beans. Also popular is the quesadilla supreme that features a 10-inch flour tortilla grilled and stuffed with meat, cheese, mushrooms, chopped beef and refried beans. It is served with Mexican rice, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo.

Why All the Mexican Restaurants?
With a dozen Mexican eateries in Kankakee County alone, why is that the case? Mexican citizens have been in the Chicago metropolitan area since the late 1910s, following the tumultuous Mexican Revolution of 1910. At that time, the Chicago region – including Kankakee – was an ideal geographic area for migration due to its rise in industrial and agricultural employment. As a result, the Mexican culture has thrived in the region ever since – including the restaurant scene.

Aroma Park: Sabor A Mi Tierra
Bourbonnais: El Burrito Loco
Bradley: El Campesino, Tacos Del Norte
Kankakee: Dos Amigos, El Mexicano, El Zacatecano, La Cocina Macias, Martinez Taco Store
Manteno: Burrito Station, La Cabana