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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Cafe El Tapatio Owner Brings His Churros To Lakeview After Learning To Make Them From Mexican Street Vendor

Churro Parlor opened this month, offering churros that are topped instead of stuffed. Toppings include Mexican chocolate ganache and dulce de leche, and sprinkles of Oreo cookie crumble, Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Mauricio Parra decorates a churro with Oreo cookie crumbles.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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LAKEVIEW — When Mauricio Parra was learning how to make churros for Churro Parlor, a suburban carryout spot that expanded to Lakeview last week, he traveled to Mexico to perfect his recipe.

Parra had been through dozens of churro recipes he found online, but nothing measured up in quality to the churros he had tried from street vendors in Mexico over the years.

“I was completely dumbfounded by how complex baking and any type of confectionary is,” Parra said. “So I called up my sister in-law, who lives in Guadalajara, Mexico, and asked her to introduce me to her churro guy.”

Parra flew to Mexico and spent the next week apprenticing under her churro guy, who sold his treats from a cart outside his family’s parish. They would unload his truck and start setting up at 4 a.m. to sell around 100 churros from his car during the day.

Parra said the experience was “humbling” and gave him the knowledge needed to open the first Churro Parlor in November 2019 in suburban Glenview. He said that storefront was a sort of “test kitchen” for the larger Churro Parlor in Lakeview, which opened this month at 1604 W. Roscoe St.

The Lakeview Churro Parlor is attached to Cafe El Tapatio, a Mexican restaurant owned by Parra at 3400 N. Ashland Ave.

Parra’s college-aged son came up with the concept for the storefront’s design, which features a pink floral mural spray-painted by artist David Bozic. The overall design transforms El Tapatio’s back dining room, which the restaurant built out in 1989, into an old-school, Mexican-inspired churro storefront.

“We wanted it to feel like this could be a storefront in Guadalajara, Mexico, but mix that with Chicago’s urbanesque feel,” Parra said.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Churro Parlor’s mural was spray-painted by artist David Bozic.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Churro Parlor owner Mauricio Parra said he wanted guests to feel like they were walking into an old-school storefront in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The churros are about one foot long and come topped with ingredients such as Mexican chocolate ganache, dulce de leche or guava compote, and sprinkled with Oreo cookie crumble, Fruity pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

“Our churros are special because they’re topped as opposed to stuffed,” Parra said. “I also make the dough by myself on a daily basis, and our churros happen to be vegan.”

The new storefront offers Mexican-inspired drinks, including a spiced hot chocolate, which can be spiked with espresso, and the Camila, an iced espresso-horchata, named after Parra’s daughter, he said.

Parra said he hopes to open a third Churro Parlor at a Bucktown storefront by this spring. It would be the first standalone Churro Parlor that’s not attached to an El Tapatio restaurant, he said.

“It’s been great being open in Chicago so far,” Parra said. “We had a lot of buzz just from people wondering what kind of work we were doing in the restaurant, but even during our soft opening last week, people were excited about the churros.”

Churro Parlor is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Mauricio Parra, chef and owner of Cafe El Tapatio and Churro Parlor
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Churro Parlor’s menu.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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