Homemade tortillas, salsas, tacos and tortas, as well as a carefully curated cocktail menu of seasonal margaritas, will appear in the Oak Park Arts District this August. Taco Mucho, an Oak Park family owned taqueria, is located in the former home of District Kitchen and Tap, 220 Harrison St.
“I spent a year and a half preparing for the opening,” said Ron Aleman, chief owner of Taco Mucho. “I was attracted to the art district and love its cool feeling and its accessibility. I love Val’s, Buzz and Happy Apple – I think Taco Mucho goes perfectly with all of the great things that are already happening on Harrison. “
Taco Mucho existed as a pop-up at the Fulton Gallery in Chicago for six months in 2019. The successful stay put Aleman ready to own a restaurant, but the pandemic delayed his dream. The South Oak Park resident and father of two spent time in quarantine cooking for neighbors, family and friends to hone his skills to open up Taco Mucho when the time was right.
Aleman was drawn to the Harrison building because it was already a functional restaurant. He is in the process of completing a major cosmetic update to “brighten and freshen up” the dining room. In addition, the layout of the restaurant has been changed for efficiency and the bathrooms have been updated.
Aleman, who opened seven restaurants over the years, brings 20 years of culinary experience to his first solo restaurant project. He also benefits from formal culinary schooling and uses his knowledge of French cooking techniques to improve his Mexican cuisine, which is based on family recipes from Guadalajara, Jalisco.
“No matter what I cook, the ingredients will always get the best respect from my hands,” Aleman said. “I want to help every ingredient reach its full potential.”
The Taco Mucho menu features a range of tacos and tortas with fillings such as ribeye steak with homemade asada seasoning, chicken al pastor, or vegetarian poblano con queso. In fact, Aleman has given serious thought to highlighting vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on Taco Mucho’s menu. Far from the “filler” on the plate, the recipe for “Grandma’s Rice” has been in Aleman’s family for over 75 years and, according to the owner, has an ideal mix of garlic, onion and tomato.
“If I weren’t proud to serve my grandma or mom something I’ve cooked, it won’t be served in the Taco Mucho,” Aleman said.
A drinks menu with classic and creative margaritas will also attract customers. Taco Mucho’s classic margarita is made with limited ingredients and contains nothing but tequila, lime, agave and a dash of lemonade. Strawberry and mango versions will be the mainstays of the menu, while seasonal creations like watermelon serrano margaritas keep things fresh. Aleman also intends to use the 12 beer dispensers on site.
Aleman “plays it smart” and plans a gradual opening for Taco Mucho. The restaurant will initially open for dinner and will gradually expand to include brunch and lunch. Aleman is now expanding his kitchen team.
“I want to attract some young culinary professionals and help them become the chefs they want to be,” Aleman said.
Taco Mucho is slated to open on August 1st.