The site of a former Oak Park restaurant favorite, Erik's Deli (107 N. Oak Park Ave.), has been transformed to the full-service Latin fusion restaurant Altiro, leaving the future of Erik's uncertain.
The restaurant opened earlier this month through a partnership with Erik's owner Ajay Bhatia and executive chef Roberto Avila.
Ajay said in an interview with Wednesday Journal that he visited the Altiro in Geneva – the restaurant also has locations in West Chicago and the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago – and was impressed by the cuisine.
Avila said the menu items, which include tapas, tacos, soups and specialty mixed drinks, combined flavors for Spanish, South American and Italian influences.
Altiro markets itself as place "where everything we create is infused with innovative new flavors from classic Latin cuisine" and serves only locally sourced meats and produce.
The Al Poblano, a pan-seared lemon herb chicken in creamy poblano sauce, and the Ala Paella, which features pan-seared tilapia, salmon, Ahi tuna, shrimp and mussels, are two of his top sellers at his other shops.
"People love the poblano," Avila said. "It's a chicken breast seared with flour and a little bit of seasoning … and infused with a little bit of tequila. After that we do the poblano sauce."
He said the dish can be served with tortillas for tacos.
The restaurant also is serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and will feature special drinks and dishes on a weekly basis.
Avila said that after meeting Bhatia, he spent about two weeks in Oak Park trying food and drinks at different restaurants, ultimately deciding that his restaurant could be a success in the village.
"I love the area," he said, noting the easy access to the village and foot traffic in the area.
The fate of the former restaurant at the location, Erik's Deli, is still uncertain. When the popular lunch spot closed down, signs appeared on the door saying it was relocating to the storefront formerly occupied by Red Hen Bread at 736 Lake St.
Bhatia said the lease deal for the spot fell through, though, putting the relocation of Erik's in limbo.
He noted that the popularity of the village right now has resulted in a shortage of storefront spaces for restaurants, making it difficult to relocate downtown.
Unlike some other full-service restaurants in the area, Altiro is open for lunch and dinner.
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