ST. CHARLES – The owner of a new restaurant is putting a twist on the traditional flavors of Puebla, Mexico, after recently opening Puebla Modern Mexican in downtown St. Charles.
Owner Tony Alfonso, who also owns Pizzeria Neo next door to the Mexican restaurant at 51 S. First St., said he wanted to see more Mexican food options in the downtown area. He said the restaurant has a hip, modern atmosphere that pairs well with its modern twist on traditional Mexican food.
"It's for modern palates," Alfonso said. "It's not Americanized. They're authentic dishes from Publo, Mexico."
Alfonso said the restaurant's head chef, Joseph Chapa, is from Puebla, Mexico, which is where a lot of the menu inspiration comes from. He said most of the dishes are served on small plates, so they're easily shared.
Dishes include six types of salsas, such as chipotle salsa with garlic and oregano, as well as six types of mole sauces, such as a fresh pineapple and roasted pumpkin seed dip. Soups and salads include the watermelon salad with grilled queso fresco and alfalfa sprouts, topped with a house-made cilantro lime dressing.
Alfonso said the restaurant also boasts nine unique taco selections, such as the arabe taco, which has some Arabian influences. That taco is made with trompo shaved pork and white onion arabe sauce. Another taco, the hongos, includes portobello mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers, corn, grilled queso fresco and guajillo salsa.
Leaving Puebla Modern Mexican without trying a margarita would be missing out on the full experience, Alfonso said. The restaurant has more than 50 types of tequila on hand, but most margaritas are made with Organic 123 Tequila.
"We make all our own syrups. There are no powders and no mixes," he said. "We spend a ton of time each morning making those from scratch."
Several types of tequila are offered in tequila flights, as well.
In addition to the traditional margarita flavors, the menu lists eight house margaritas. One of the more popular margaritas so far, Alfonso said, is the smokey sweet margarita, which is made with fresh mango, fresh blueberries, lime juice and chile morita.
"People love that one," he said.
The restaurant also hosts a Mexican brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10 a.m., which is paired with a bloody mary and bloody maria – the Mexican version of a bloody mary, only made with tequila instead of vodka – bar. Customers can build their own bloody mary or bloody maria, choosing from a wide variety of ingredients, such as bacon and chicarones.
The restaurant seats as many as 150 people and has plenty of room to host parties, Alfonso added. He said they've been hosting taco parties, which is a build-your-own taco bar, and he said he plans to streamline that and incorporate it into a catering menu.
Alfonso said the restaurant has been well-received since opening.
"So far, it's great," he said. "There were two failed restaurants here before. Everyone gets excited, including other businesses. They want the traffic."
Puebla Modern Mexican, 51 S. First St., St. Charles, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. For information, visit www.pueblamodernmexican.com or call 630-945-3408.