The extent to which the recent fortunes of two of my favorite Mexican restaurants have toyed with my emotions cannot be overstated. When Quijote's closed — and then reopened and closed again (all in the space of two months) — my heart rose and sank like tortillas in a fryer. The only consolation was that the family that ran the place for four years also operates an excellent hot dog, hamburger and ice cream shop called Los Mangos on South Federal Boulevard.
I've been all jangly with anxiety ever since, not knowing who would swoop in to claim the prime restaurant real estate at 1043 Broadway, but feeling almost certain that it would be something disappointing and uninspired. Then this week, banners were hoisted proclaiming the upcoming new tenant — and I all but burst into sobs of joy as soon as the name sank in. "Garibaldi Mexican Bistro," the words read.
Garibaldi isn't just another taqueria; it's a celebration of seasonal Mexican cooking and hard-to-come-by Mexico City street food tucked under the awning of a Conoco service station at 3298 South Broadway in Englewood. Backed by the nearly subliminal rumbling of the car wash next door, Garibaldi turns out huaraches, tlayudas, whole stuffed nopales, quekas (oversized corn-masa quesadillas) and pambazos, along with more familiar enchiladas, tacos, burritos and gorditas. When the season hits, the restaurant brings in squash blossoms and huitlacoche that it stuffs into enormous blue-corn quesadillas.
Owner Jesus Cruz says the new location will allow his family to realize their vision of a true bistro. "We'll have the same menu, and we're going to have a full bar — Mexican wines, tequila, mezcal and beers from Mexico," he explains.
Wait — Mexican wine? "It's a scene that's been growing for the past ten years or so, and that's a scene we want to be part of," Cruz explains. The new Garibaldi will also serve local beers, he says, but the focus will be on imports.
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Cruz is targeting mid-July to get his second restaurant open, though he says it could be sooner since crews are already at work changing over the space to fit their vision. Quijote's was primarily a breakfast and lunch spot, closing by 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and staying closed on the weekends. But the new Garibaldi will serve dinner as well as lunch, and Cruz even plans to stay open late in order to serve tacos and other street food to patrons of the clubs along this strip of Broadway.
He's even considering adding breakfast hours, but he knows he'll close on Sundays. "That's a policy we'll keep no matter how many Garibaldi Bistros we open," he states.
The Englewood Garibaldi will remain open after the new location debuts, so fans who have found their way to that unassuming little eatery will still be able to get their fill of some of the best Mexican food in the metro area.
And I will be making a stop at the tailor to have an elastic waistband put in all of my pants.