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Tinez Tacos soft-opens new brick-and-mortar spot

August 30, 2018

MALTA – Somewhat abashedly, Maggie Self admitted she ordered what she’s always ordered from Tinez Tacos, albeit at its new brick-and-mortar location: cheese quesadilla and corn in a cup.

The Mexican restaurant had a soft opening Thursday at its new spot, 4199 E. state Route 38, attached to Hickey’s Corner Store. Self and her husband, Jon, pastor at First Baptist Church of DeKalb, drove 15 minutes to the west for lunch Thursday.

Why would someone do that?

“When you’re really Caucasian, like me, you’re impressed by how they balance authentic Mexican and how the rest of us think Mexican food can taste,” Jon Self said. He got the enchiladas, by the way.

Co-owner Veronica Garcia-Martinez, 36, of Cortland, said her dedicated customer base is key, but perhaps what’s most important is the ingredients, which also make their way from DeKalb businesses. Most of the veggies come from El Paraiso Market, 418 N. 10th St., while the meat comes via Montgomery-based Fox River Foodservice.

“We cut the meat ourselves, and all our veggies are cut every morning,” Garcia-Martinez said.

“This is how it’s best, and how we need it to be,” her husband, Rodrigo, 32, said while working in the kitchen. “This is how you know food tastes good.”

Tinez Tacos’ food truck is booked through the end of October, she said, and she hopes to eventually invest in more trucks. As for brick-and-mortar locations, this is it. Home base. She said her business just officially moved out of its previous location at 1503 E. Lincoln Highway, which of late has more or less served as a prep location for the truck.

Garcia-Martinez went to bat in May with DeKalb city officials over the cumbersome food truck regulations, although by the time the city council approved a more lenient policy including fewer fees, she said she and others had already moved on.

The former Subway location needed some overhauling in order to accommodate the flat grills and other kitchen features. It did, however, feature several tables – something missing at the former DeKalb location.

“When you don’t have seating in a Mexican restaurant, it won’t work out,” Garcia-Martinez said.

While the location might be a hike from DeKalb and Sycamore, she’s counting on its being situated on a main artery of the county.

“It’s actually a prime location,” Garcia-Martinez said. “Look at the cars passing by, and then you have Kish and NIU, and this is the only place in town to get gas.”

There are things to iron out, such as the lack of cinnamon in the horchata machine, in Maggie Self’s humble opinion. The restaurant’s grand opening is Saturday.

“That’s why we had the soft opening, so we’re ready to go,” Garcia-Martinez said.

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