A new Mexican restaurant is moving into Clarendon Hills this summer, but don’t be surprised if the menu is not quite what you’ve come to expect.
“The food will be as authentic Mexican as you can possibly get,” said Sylvia Jimenez, whose family plans to open Aguamiel in the former space at 30 S. Prospect Ave. by late July.
Aguamiel, named for the honey water extracted from agave plants in Mexico that once was offered only to the gods by the Aztecs and Mayans, will be the Jimenez family’s fifth Chicago-area restaurant.
During its 35 years in the local market, the family has opened two Santa Fe Restaurant locations in Glen Ellyn and Sandwich, Santiago’s in La Grange, and . All but Il Sogno, an Italian restaurant, serve Mexican fare, but third-generation restaurateur and Aguamiel manager Jimenez said the new Clarendon Hills restaurant will be a bit different.
“We’re doing completely and totally traditional Mexican fare,” the 41-year-old native of Mexico City said. “We’re going to bring things into Clarendon Hills that I would like to say really haven’t been brought into the suburbs yet.”
For example, forget the flour-tortilla quesadilla you’re familiar with. At Aguamiel, the quesadillas will be made from corn dough, which is typical in the urban areas of Mexico. And the sour cream Americans are familiar with will be replaced with crema Mexicana, which is more similar to crème fraiche.
“I think the palate of the American market is ready and prepared to embrace the true flavor of this culture,” Jimenez said.
The restaurant will employ several authentic tortilla-makers from Mexico, and the glassware, furniture, and decorations currently being shipped to Aguamiel have been produced by hand in the Jimenez family's native country.
Jimenez said she learned of the Prospect Avenue space when a mutual customer of Maijean and her family's other restaurants told her that the former was closing and the space would be available.
“We, for many, many years, have been looking into the Clarendon Hills-Hinsdale area,” Jimenez said. “We feel that it’s such an incredible area for any type of restaurant. It was almost God-given.”
village manager Randy Recklaus said he’s heard great things about the Jimenez family.
“We’re very excited to have them come to town; they have a very good reputation,” Recklaus said. “All the other restaurants they own are very well-regarded.”
after serving French-inspired comfort food for more than four years at the Prospect location. The restaurant cited the tough economic situation as its reason for shutting its doors.
“The only reason we have for our closing is … the unstable economy,” an email to Patch from the restaurant last December read.
Jimenez said Aguamiel will be affordable and family-oriented. She sees those as two musts in a family town like Clarendon Hills.
“We’re hoping for the best and we can do the best we can, but at the end of the day, only the customers will determine if we stick around,” she said. “Without the community there’s no way we can succeed.”
The Jimenez family is made up of Irineo and Teresa, their six biological children (Sylvia being one), and an adopted daughter. The late Irineo had been going back and forth between Mexico and the U.S. as a restaurateur since he was 20 years old. The family moved to the Chicago area permanently when Sylvia was 12.
Sylvia said her mother is the official owner of the family's restaurants, but it's a close-knit family that considers every member, including an additional adopted sister, to have an equal share.
"We work for the family and the next generation to come," she said.