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Cantina de la Granja : New Mexican Restaurant Gives Fresh Meaning to Locally Sourced Cuisine


Photo Cantina de la Granja Facebook

Wrangling in farm fresh ingredients from across the Midwest, Andersonville’s up-and-coming Cantina de la Granja is on a mission to serve traditional Mexican dishes with a local, sizzling twist.

Owned and operated by the owners of SoFo Tap and Crew Bar, the modern Mexican-style restaurant is slated to open its doors in the late spring, early summer season. It will operate at the neighborhood’s old T’s Bar location on 5025 N. Clark Street, pending some construction and a complete remodel of the space.

“We like the neighborhood,” says Mark Robertson, co-owner of Cantina de la Granja. “The concept we put in place for the restaurant speaks to everything we appreciate about Andersonville: […] local collaborations and its focus on sustainability.”

Dreaming up fresh interpretations of traditional Mexican-style dishes, Cantina de la Granja will source between 70 to 80 percent of its food and ingredients from vendors and farmers within a 200-mile radius of Chicago, year-round. It also has plans to build and maintain a 1,400 square foot rooftop garden, furthering the restaurant’s mission and focus on sustainability.

With executive chef Diana Dávila leading the charge, Cantina de la Granja promises to implement modern culinary techniques that source whatever ingredients the season has to offer to create unique dishes boasting the flavors of modern Mexican cuisine.

“When it’s 20 below outside you can’t pick anything from the fields, so our focus is on getting creative with our dishes,” says Robertson. “What we’re looking to do is reconnect people with the idea of being locally sourced. Our mission is to come up with different and creative ways to create a dish.”

Already chef Dávila is working to develop Cantina de la Granja’s menu, giving eager diners a sneak peak into her much anticipated creations over the restaurant’s Facebook page and through a dinner series held last summer and fall. Tapping into nearby vendors and growers, Dávila is experimenting with local ingredients and putting together a menu that showcases tacos, ceviches, small plates and larger entrees ranging from street food classics to multi-dimensional composed offerings. CantinaLaGranja

With the restaurant’s menu focused on local and craft producers, Robertson said it was a natural fit to open in Andersonville. Once the space nears its end development stages and moves closer to its opening date, Robertson says the owners will further cultivate relationships with local businesses, including delving into the neighborhood art scene and commissioning artists to design and paint murals within the space.

While the opening date is very much dependent on the tempestuous winter weather and, in turn, construction constraints, Cantina de la Granja’s owners and neighbors alike are looking forward to adding a new and zesty spice to North Clark’s dining scene.

“We are very much looking to be a community gathering place for Andersonville neighbors and people who live in the city,” says Robertson. “We want to be a place you can see as a town square […] We want to be more than just your neighborhood Mexican joint.”

For more information about Cantina de la Granja, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page here.

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