If you are looking for authentic, modern Mexican cuisine, look no further than Margarita Challenger’s popular restaurant, Guanajuato, located at 1003-1005 Green Bay Road in Winnetka, Illinois.
The upscale Guanajuato focuses on artful, delicious and finely crafted renditions of street fare favorites from the Mexican region of Guanajuato, the childhood home of Margarita. The atmosphere is stylish, chic, colorful and comfortable.
Guanajuato boasts an extensive menu with both traditional and creative dishes such as authentic, quality Mexican cuisine including handcrafted tacos, tortas, burritos, appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. There is also a constantly changing original margarita cocktail and libation menu that enhances the dining experience.
Guanajuato is the place to celebrate special occasions and holidays. As expert planners, Margarita and Chef Elipio Santiago, relish every opportunity to host each party. It is no wonder their customers flock to the restaurant for their memorable occassions.
“We are now in the season where guests are enjoying graduations and wedding showers, but families and friends celebrate birthdays and anniversaries here year around,” says Margarita.
Guanajuato offers a private dining room that is a favorite spot for many party hosts. It can hold up to 40 guests, but the restaurant is open to any kind of event from 16 to a total restaurant buyout.
Margarita’s background in catering is an immense help. “Our restaurant is much more intimate than a banquet hall or hotel. Our service is friendly, and we assist in planning every detail. We are flexible in developing menus that suit the guests’ needs. Nothing is cookie-cutter,” she says.
“I want people to feel warmth as soon as they enter the restaurant,” Margarita says. “We think about every aspect of our restaurant and what goes on inside of it. The food. The service. The atmosphere. Celebrations are the most intimate and our place is welcoming, bright, and happy.”
My guest and I definitely felt the festive warmth of Guanajuato as we entered the restaurant for dinner. Everyone working there was always smiling, welcoming and accommodating. I especially loved the colorful space and decor inside as we dined on amazing food and drinks.
We started the evening with delicious, smoky and earthy margaritas called Earth and Smoke. These were paired with an exceptional appetizer of Blue Crab Ceviche (blue crab, mango, arugula, tomatoes and avocado). Blue crab is an interesting fish that offers quite an impressive flavor for the palate. The dish was fresh and light. The only complaint was that we wished there had been extra crab in the ceviche!
Entrees ordered were the Chipotle Salmon (salmon and shrimp in a creamy chipotle sauce, and served on a bed of spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli and asparagus) and Enchiladas San Miguel (three cheese, chicken or steak in a rich red sauce, carrots, potatoes, cotija cheese and sour cream, rice and beans). The Chipotle Salmon was exquisite, consisting of perfect, tender salmon and shrimp, and covered in a perfectly spiced creamy, chipotle sauce. The vegetable variety added crunch and texture to the fish as a whole. My guest highly enjoyed the Enchiladas San Miguel that came with flavorful and juicy steak in the enchiladas and a fire roasted tomato sauce.
How can you end an amazing meal without dessert? Well, the answer is no, every time, as humans have that second secret stomach set aside just for dessert. To fill up that second stomach, we shared the Margarita’s Brownie (dark chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream). The brownie was a perfect concoction of rich, chocolatey tasting pleasure, which was well balanced with the creamy vanilla ice cream.
Guanajuato is the place to eat whether you’re celebrating a holiday, event, date night, or simply craving a sit down, casual meal. This restaurant offers an amazing menu and presentation of food and drink, impeccable service and lovely decor. Come out to have a meal here-because every dining experience is a celebration.
Photos: Jennifer Lunz unless otherwise noted as Guanajuato (feature image; empty table image)
For more information, or to make reservations, visit the restaurant website or call 847-242-0501.
Guanajuato is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.