UPTOWN — A husband-and-wife team are bringing their empanada delivery business to the Asian on Argyle district next month.
Don Pablo’s Kitchen & Bakeshop, 1007 W. Argyle St., will open in early February, owner Pablo Cesar Soto said. It is opening next to Milly’s Pizza In the Pan, another ghost kitchen business opening a physical location on Argyle Street.
Soto and wife Julie Morrow-Soto launched Don Pablo’s in May, operating as a ghost kitchen that delivered to the Northwest Side and nearby suburbs. They added a delivery truck and collaborated with breweries and bars to offer food service during events.
Soto’s Chilean-style empandas garnered a following. Now, they hope their first brick-and-mortar restaurant will become a favorite in Uptown.
“My wife and I thought about this for a long, long time,” Soto said. “We want to keep up the tradition of the Chilean empanada.”
Soto worked for Yelp for three years when the pandemic swept into Chicago. Like many workers during the pandemic, he left his office job to follow a passion project.
Chilean empanadas are larger than others and include more filling and spices specific to the South American country. Soto said he thought there could be a market for the empanadas in Chicago, so he traveled back to Chile to relearn how to make them before launching Don Pablo’s.
Don Pablo’s is named for Pablo Neruda, a legendary Chilean politician and poet who won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1971.
The business garnered a following and had its biggest month in September, correlating with Chilean Independence Day, Soto said. With the business on solid footing, the suburban Glenview couple scouted locations in Evanston and Uptown.
Ultimately, the diversity and strength of the Argyle business district sold them, Soto said. People come to the area to try foods they’ve never tried or can’t readily get elsewhere. That could work for a place offering a different take on empanadas, he said.
“This location is a lot more diverse,” he said. “Introducing a new item in this neighborhood seemed to be the right move. We’re super excited to be in the neighborhood.”
The “clásica” empanada includes hand-cut sirloin with hard-boiled egg, black olives, onions and spices ($6.95). There’s also the Napolitana (tomato, basil, oregano and melted cheese) and the Greek Tragedy (artichoke hearts, cremini mushrooms, kalamata olives and feta cheese), plus breakfast and dessert empanadas.
The restaurant will have seating for about 20 people but will mainly focus on takeout and delivery, Soto said. It will offer coffee with its breakfast empanadas to cater to commuters, will have outdoor seating in the summer and will host live Latin American music.
Soto said he looks forward to bringing his business to the next level and offering a new food option for neighbors and visitors.
“Now the hard part starts,” he said. “We want to make sure people love what we do.”
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