When you pull up in front of the non-descript exterior of Peña’s Mexican Grill at 1133 North Zang Boulevard, you may find yourself a little under-whelmed. Perhaps even skeptical. But trust your instincts, and this fine publication, and go inside.
Once in the door, you’ll still be a little uncertain. There’s not much to it. A small room with a handful of tables. A splash of yellow paint on the walls and a ¾ wall between you and the kitchen. But it’s what’s in the kitchen, or more accurately who’s in there, that matters.
Salazar Peña started Peña’s at the end of November, and it’s his first attempt at running his own restaurant. Of course he’s been around the block a time or two, including a long stint at the YO Ranch Steakhouse and several smaller restaurants in Chicago. What may surprise you about this unassuming little “Mexican” restaurant is that it’s not just a Mexican restaurant. Grilled pork chops smothered with Portobello red wine sauce or grilled salmon with a caper cream sauce are not only unexpected items on the menu, but they also taste fabulous.
Yes, Peña’s offers the tasty standard fare of tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. But it also has a “Gringo Burger” and a veggie burger featuring grilled Portobello mushrooms and savory grilled vegetables.
It’s BYOB, so plan ahead. And did we mention the low, low prices? Entrees range from $4.95 to $12.95. Regardless of whether you are going for breakfast, lunch or dinner you’ll find an excellent meal at Peña’s for a tremendous value. And you’ll probably go back again and again. We know we will.