CHICAGO -- You can sample 12 different kinds of "sinful" chilaquiles, devour divine pancakes with frosted flakes and savor authentic Mexican coffee with cinnamon while gazing upon super cool religious artifacts.
No wonder customers from all over Chicago will sometimes wait two hours to enjoy the heavenly experience at La Catedral Restaurant & Cafe. Chef and owner Ambrocio Gonzalez has created an unforgettable experience, featuring not only scrumptious Mexican and American breakfast favorites but an atmosphere infused with faith, camaraderie and a love for his customers and Mexican culture. When asked why his wait staff wears angel T-shirts with wings, he doesn't hesitate calling them angels and giving them credit for much of La Catedral's success.
"They're the ones making everything happen here," said Gonzalez.
Chef Gonzalez grew up in Mexico, the son of a single mother. At one time in his life, he was selling food as a street vendor. When he first came to the La Catedral location in Chicago's Little Village, things weren't going so well. He expanded the menu a little, prayed a lot and after forging a bond with his neighbors, things took off.
"Our customers since day one are the ones who come to wait no matter how long," said Gonzalez, as he choked back tears.
Reviewers have called La Catedral "Chicago's Best Mexican Breakfast & Brunch" in "one of the most unique locations in Little Village." Everything about the restaurant is special. While most Mexican restaurants serve one or two kinds of chilaquiles, Chef Ambrocio gives customers 12 different choices - poblano to pico de gallo - to name a few. He adds another brand new chilaquile every December to usher in the New Year.
"You could come here for two weeks and have a different chilaquiles every day," said Gonzalez.
He also serves up tasty Mexican egg dishes, like Huevos con Chorizo and Huevos con Salchicha, and his French toast and crepes topped with whip cream and strawberries are to die and go to heaven for! And La Catedral Cafe also boasts of an extensive drink selection. Chef Ambrocio prides himself in taking no shortcuts and making his Mexican coffee with cinnamon just like they do in Mexico. Other memorable drink selections include Mexican coffee served with either caramel or rice water along with a wide array of refreshing fresh fruit drinks.
Chef Ambrocio's entire restaurant, floor to ceiling, is filled with Catholic-based paintings, crosses, statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the saints. Customers leave money offerings by the statue of St. Anthony, praying that he will answer their prayers to find love. Then, Ambrocio collects the offerings and donates the money to charitable efforts or people in the community who need help.
"We have a few ladies who come here to pray and not even to eat anything," said Gonzalez. "I think that's one of the many reasons we've been successful."
And of course with the religious theme comes fitting menu names like "heavenly sweets," "confession-worthy bites" and "less sinful bites," like chicken Caesar and strawberry salads. When reflecting on La Catedral Cafes success, Ambrocio said, "people say I'm lucky, but I say I am blessed."
As he pointed to the religious presence around him, he smiled and said, "I have a lot of help."