Last fall, the owners of Lincoln Park's popular Taco Joint took over the space directly south of their restaurant and opened The Mexican, which focused more on homestyle cuisine versus the street food served at the older spot. The plan was a bit confusing to some, to open a Mexican restaurant next to a successful taco spot. Now owner Edgar Castaneda is pivoting once more, as they're closing The Mexican on Sunday and replacing it with BBQ Joint, a Mexican-inspired barbecue restaurant.
They'll take a week off before reopening the space on Monday, Feb. 22, Castaneda said. Taco Joint, which also has a River North location, just celebrated its five-year anniversary near the corner of Halsted and Armitage. Feedback from those customers told Castaneda that locals wanted something more casual, akin to the formula that's made Taco Joint successful. They're going to serve tacos, tortas sliders and burritos with smoked meats. Some of the items have appeared on Taco Joint's menu.
"We're going to have fun," Castaneda said. "I'm not a pitmaster or an expert, but I am a big fan, and this is combining two great loves of mine."
They'll retain the same staff and make a few modifications to the dining space. They're adding more high tables and will add a second bar later in March. This is more of a spot to grab some tacos and a few drinks versus a more formal date night venue. Speaking of drinks, the cocktails include Taco Joint's signature margaritas, a bourbon-peach tea cocktail and a healthy dose of mescal selections.
Why have a second restaurant? Taco Joint is hampered by a small space for the kitchen and dining area, which leads to long wait times on the weekend. Castaneda said he tried to find a bigger space down the street at the former Shine restaurant at the corner of Fremont and Armitage. The deal fell through, and so they struck an agreement to expand and take over The Mexican's current spot.
Check out the preliminary menu below.