Chef Paco stands for a photo inside the new N Rebozo location on Madison Street on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in downtown Forest Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Since opening New Rebozo in 1991, chef and owner, Francisco Lopez, known to all as Chef Paco, was a mainstay on the Oak Park culinary scene. Now, with a slightly updated name, Lopez has become a culinary standout in Forest Park. After moving his staff, art collection and repertory of 26 moles just a half-mile west on Madison Street, N Rebozo, 7403 Madison St., Forest Park opened in spring of 2022.

“Oh my God, Oak Park opened up to me and gave me the opportunity to make my dreams come true,” said Chef Paco. “I am a little sad because I love Oak Park. But I am super excited about being in Forest Park, too.”

Chef Paco had a career in banking in Mexico before coming to the United States. He was in the states to learn English and took over El Rebozo in 1991. Language, though, wasn’t his only barrier. The first-time restaurant owner didn’t know how to cook.

With the help of his wife, Chef Paco added mole poblano to the menu, but beyond offering the first of what would become many future moles, N Rebozo’s early dishes focused on classic homestyle fare like tacos and burritos. Eight years into the endeavor, however, Chef Paco began to think there could be value in adding a fi ne dining twist to his restaurant.

Chef Paco struggled in his academic classes at the now defunct Illinois Institute of Art, but his chef-instructors saw his potential and encouraged him to fight through his language barrier because he was a “good example” to the younger aspiring chefs in the program.

“Oh my god, my customers would help me with the grammar in my papers and help me understand difficult math,” said Chef Paco. “They would come for dinner and stay late to help me learn. I worked hard, but it still took me four years to finish a two-year program. I could not have done it without them.”

Now, more than three decades into his restaurant adventure, Chef Paco’s perseverance has helped transform N Rebozo into a local fine dining legacy. His elevated cuisine focuses on regional specialties and artful plating.

According to Chef Paco, restaurant ownership comes with “the good and the bad,” but his kitchen philosophy doubles as a philosophy for life.

“Spicy, sweet, sour, salty, crunchy — you need them all, in a dish and in life,” said Paco. “Too much of one thing and everything will be out of balance. I have found my balance.”

N Rebozo
7403 Madison St., Forest Park
(708) 445-0370
newrebozos.com

Join the discussion on social media!