Taqueria Muniz is not quite your typical taco place.
The restaurant at 133 S. Weber Road opened for business in Oct. 2010 just down the plaza from the Goodwill.
The guitar that co-owner and chef Luis Muniz used to play to pass the time in the early days when there weren’t too many customers now rests on a shelf beside the straws and Sweet n’ Low.
“There’s a difference between me and just a regular cook,” said Muniz, 22, a 2009 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago that has been in the restaurant business almost half his life.
The Muniz family—mom, dad, four sisters and one brother—also own Taqueria Muniz of Aurora, which has been open for 10 years. Luis and sister Diana, 27, operate the Bolingbrook location. Diana remembers working in the restaurant since she graduated high school—it is her business savvy coupled with Luis’ professional training that makes Taqueria Muniz stand out from the crowd.
Still, it’s tough for a small restaurant to compete in an area with so many other dining options, she said.
“It’s like you’re in the middle, and there are big monsters all around you,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to keep up.”
Rather than spend profits on advertising, Diana and Luis prefer to invest in quality products, which cost more than low-grade, mass-prepared foods. Instead of spending on flashy advertising, they rely on repeat customers, word-of-mouth referrals, and a belief that quality and hard work will pay off in the end, even in the face of a market full of corporate-sized budgets and portions.
Everything they serve—from the guacamole to the horchata—is fresh and made from scratch. The beans don't come out of a can, the steak is cooked on a grill and the pork is done on a spit, they say.
Customer Mark Galvin works nearby and often stops in for lunch. “Hands down, the best steak tacos I’ve ever had,” he said.
But what is it like spending twelve hours a day, seven days a week working with a sibling?
“It’s awesome. Most of the time we’re having fun. He’s the youngest and I’m the oldest, and we talk about our childhood. We have our priority, but we also have a good time,” said Diana, who added that neither she nor her brother have any inclination to move out of the food service industry. “This is what we know, ever since we were little. You’re feeding people, and they like it."
Taqueria Muniz is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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