West Chicago, Illinois: June 18, 2012 -- A new West Chicago restaurant has become something of an overnight sensation among those who know the quality of fine Mexican and Brazilian fusion.
Changarro, located at 1400 S. Neltnor Blvd., offers an inventive menu that includes rich memelas with ingredients like shrimp, pear squash and chipotle or Brazilian chopped beef with carrots, green beans and bacon; amazing tortas including one variety made with adobo marinated pork loin, grilled pineapple and lettuce; and "crazy good" tacos with one of the favorites being the pan seared tilapia, guacamole and fresh cabbage slaw. That's only half the story, though, the other half is the seasonally fresh flavor-infused fruited waters and bar drinks that feature a range of specialty Margaritas.
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Ricardo Santos, owner and manager of Changarro, learned at an early age that ingredients taste better when put together in unique combinations. Sitting on a stool in his grandmother's kitchen in Rio de Janeiro, Santos sampled ingredients and challenged the best classic standards of the Brazilian tradition.
While formally educated for a career in law, it was the education he received from his grandmother that led Santos to the US, specifically Chicago, to follow a passion for the culinary arts. Landing in the kitchen of a Brazilian steakhouse, Santos continued to hone his skills and discovered a highly appreciative audience for the flavors of his homeland, particularly tapas - small dishes of a wide range of savories. He went on to work at Mercat a la Planxa at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago's South Loop where he also developed a knack for creating specialty drinks from fresh ingredients like mango, pineapple, mint, basil, chipotle and exotic blends of tequila and liquors.
It was at Sushi Samba on Wells Street that Santos met and got to know co-worker Rodrigo Cano who eventually took his skills to the western suburbs and opened Bien Trucha, the wildly popular restaurant on State Street in Geneva. Santos became the Bar Manager at Bien Trucha, and after two years of creating an exciting drink line, developed a devoted following.
Now with the launch of Changarro, Santos hopes to take his unbridled creative enthusiasm for the dining experience to new levels in his own establishment in West Chicago. "I learned that to be successful requires making something new. Mixing the complex flavors of Brazil, which is strongly influenced by Spain and Portugal, with the traditions of Mexico, works to create a Brazilian fusion that is all its own. This will be my niche."
City of West Chicago officials are delighted at the new dining concept finding its way to their city. "We are excited that Ricardo has chosen West Chicago as the location for his new business," said Acting Mayor Ruben Pineda. "His decision resonates with our long-held belief that West Chicago has tremendous market potential for quality restaurants, based on our own demographics and those of our surrounding neighbors. Changarro's proximity to Route 59 and Route 38, makes it an accessible destination from just about any direction. As an ex-chef, I am anxious to try every dish he prepares. For those who have tasted his food…well, let's just say his menu will clinch his success."
Changarro, located at 1400 S. Neltnor Blvd., is open Tuesday -- Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call (630) 231-0200 for more information, reservations or directions.