Love and passion are the secret spice of the successful string of five west suburban restaurants owned by Executive Chef Robert Avila and his wife Erika Villanueva. Next to open is a new downtown Aurora location at 1 S. Stolp Ave. (630 232-7717).
Fresh takes on traditional Spanish tapas, infused with new flavors from Mexico and South America, are the order of the day.
Each one is designed for sharing, whether by a couple on date night or by a gathering of friends. The lively kitchen is in view of guests seated in the bar area and sends forth a steady flow of small plates, brimming with color and flavor. First out are inventive appetizers like the creamy yet peppery Ala Pablana soup with queso fresco and potatoes or the Al Atun, a yellowfin ahi tuna with chipotle glaze, avocado and cream cheese served on a crispy tortilla.
Next, a varied selection of tacos runs the gamut from fish and seafood specialties to the Al Carnitas,with slow-roasted Slagel Farm pork belly with a roasted chili de Arbol salsa, and the Al Camaronchizo, with Basque seasoned shrimo-chirozi.
A menu of specialty tapas features Al Mejillon — Prince Edward Island mussels with Spanish chorizo, roasted tomato and tequila sauce served with grilled rustic bread. A seafood paella stars pan-seared tilapia, salmon, ahi tuna, shrimp and mussels.
Sangria and south-of-the-border cocktails are flavor packed with lime and fresh fruit, and some are beautifully accented with hibiscus flowers.