The pandemic suspension of indoor dining has allowed ghost kitchens with celebrity endorsers to haunt Chicago. Musicians and actors like Wiz Khalifa, Mario Lopez, and even the mayor of Flavortown himself — Guy Fieri — have used their names to sell chicken wings, rice bowls, and jalapeño poppers to Chicago residents. Another celebrity has entered the market: Actor Danny Trejo. Trejo, who opened a Mexican-American restaurant in 2016 in LA, has brought Trejo’s Tacos to a Loop ghost kitchen.
Trejo’s Tacos has also launched a ghost kitchen operation in Miami. Trejo, who has appeared in films like Spy Kids and Machete, has a taco cookbook, seven taquerias, a coffeeshop, a doughnut shop, and his own beer. He’s built a culinary empire selling the “LA lifestyle.” For Chicago customers, that means tacos, bowls, and burritos. Traditional steak and chicken fillings are available, but there’s also vegetarians options like jackfruit and cauliflower. There’s also a chicken tikka variety, further cementing the Indo-Mexican connection. Early risers may appreciate the breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, tater tots, and bean dip.
The actor’s restaurant is the latest addition to Kitchen United, the ghost kitchen inside a downtown space that formerly housed the Wells Street Market food hall. One of the kitchen’s draws is that customers can order from multiple vendors and get their food delivered all at once. Another new tenant is Camile Thai Kitchen, a chain from Irish businessman Brody Sweeney. The company is using ghost kitchens as its window to expansion in America. They brand themselves as “the fastest growing Thai restaurant chain in the U.K. & Ireland” while “taking great pride in being healthy with sustainability lens weaved through everything we do,” according to a news release. The menu is similar to many Thai restaurants that have been in America for decades with fried rice, noodles, and satay.
Chicago doesn’t have a shortage of chefs making Thai or Mexican food, so it’s curious to see Kitchen United look elsewhere to bring those cuisines under their roof. However, the new additions do provide balance to a lineup that includes puns like “Plant B” (vegetarian fast food) and “Bad Mutha Clucka” (fried chicken).
Trejo’s Tacos and Camile Thai are now open for pickup or delivery.