Andersonville will soon get a new Mexican restaurant from the owners of Lady Gregory’s Irish bar and Wilde. Octavio Cantina & Kitchen should open in mid-March at the former Acre space, 5308 N. Clark Street. Ownership lured Daniel Muñoz, formerly of Barrio in River North, to be Octavio’s executive chef.
The menu’s being developed by Tobie Nidetz and Dudley Nieto. Nidetz is a consultant who worked with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises — he was at The Pump Room when it reopened in 1977. Nieto is known for Roja Gusano in Albany Park and opening Adobo Grill in Old Town. Muñoz’s job will to be executing the menu, described as the ubiquitous “modern take” on Mexican food.
“We wanted to create a menu that keeps the neighborhood and families in mind while also having some intricate dishes for the foodies as well,” said co-owner Martin Cournane.
They’ll make handmade tortillas in the kitchen and a wood-burning oven and grill. Cournane mentioned how they’re perfecting a cochinita pibil recipe. The menu will draw from different regions of Mexico.
Bar industry veteran Matt Frederick is creating the drink menu. He’s the GM over at Maplewood Brewery’s new taproom in Logan Square. He’s got experience with Mexican food, as he created the drinks at Mi Tocaya Antojeria in Logan Square. They’ll have margaritas by the pitcher or glass, a smoked-mezcal old fashioned that’s poured table side and more. The Acre space had a bit of a bar scene and they’ll take advantage of that. They’ll also have a non-boozy margarita, slushies, draft cocktails, and beer.
The interior will feature a 12-foot by 30-foot skylight and they’re restoring the original tin ceiling. Local artists Chris Silva and Cecilio Garcia are contributing pieces to the restaurant. There’s also an open kitchen.
The ownership group runs Lady Gregory’s locations in Andersonville and Old Town, and Wilde in Lakeview. Acre closed in January 2017. The last Mexican restaurant to try something new in the neighborhood, Cantina 1910, didn’t fare so well. Let’s see if Octavio can learn some lessons. Stay tuned for more information as the opening approaches.