Octavio, a new Mexican restaurant in Andersonville, opens on Tuesday from the owners of a group of popular Irish pubs with locations in Andersonville, Lakeview, and Old Town. The restaurant, which has replaced Acre, comes from the same group behind Lady Gregory’s and Wilde. The food is from a pair of Mexican chefs: Dudley Nieto and Daniel Muñoz. They’re taking a non-regional approach to Mexican food, drawing inspiration from all over the country. They’ll also serve brunch every day at 5310 N. Clark Street.
They’re joined by a third chef, Tobie Nidetz, a longtime collaborator with ownership and their Munster Restaurant Group label. Muñoz will oversee day-to-day operations and counts Nieto as a mentor. Nieto is a Chicago restaurant veteran behind Roja Gusano in Albany Park. Munoz worked at Barrio in River North. He acknowledged that it would be natural to question a Mexican restaurant owned by company that focuses on Irish pubs. Any questions melted away like queso fundido after Muñoz met co-owner Martin Cournane and seeing the company’s dedication to hospitality.
“I don’t think them being Irish has anything to do with their palates,” Muñoz said.
The restaurant is named after Octavio Paz, the Nobel Prize-winning poet from Mexico. Muñoz explained the need to be balance in a neighborhood like Andersonville. He wants to make food to satisfy locals while making a menu that will entice suburbanites and others to make the trip to Andersonville. A restaurant can be considered too ambitious for Andersonville. Cantina 1910 was a modern, multi-story restaurant that took years to finally open. However, there was a disconnect with the neighborhood and poor execution. The Mexican restaurant closed in less than a year. Its opening chef, Diana Dávila, has rebounded nicely in Logan Square, earning acclaim at Mi Tocaya Antojeria.
That doesn’t mean Octavio will hold back, it just means they’ll try to offer variety. On one hand they’ll serve a poblano-roasted chicken mole. The mole’s simmered for four hours with 15 ingredients. They’ll also make use of a wood-burning oven for flatbreads. There’s pork belly, chicken tinga, and mariscos. Muñoz is also psyched about their tacos with tortillas made in the kitchen.
Since the owners are familiar with bars, they’re determined to create a nightlife vibe. Taking a cue from Dávila, they’ve lured Matt Frederick, the GM at the Maplewood Lounge and the man responsible for Mi Tocaya’s opening drink list. Frederick, a consultant, has created boozy slushies, a smokey old fashioned, and a special draft margarita for the bar. They’ll also serve plenty of mezcals, sotol, and tequila.
Take a look at the photos of the food below and stay tuned for a peek at the interiors on Tuesday.