Rockotlan: la casa de heavy metal, unique Mexican dishes
Pedro Jimenez loves rock and heavy metal – so much so that he operates a bar and restaurant dedicated to these genres of music. Jimenez, along with five partners, quietly opened Rockotlan, 3447 W. Forest Home Ave., about a year ago and it's finally starting to make some noise.
Jimenez says the main goals of his business are to support heavy metal and Spanish-language rock bands as well as to offer signature food and drink items that aren't available at other Latin restaurants in the city.
Every Friday night, Rockotlan features a Spanish-language rock-focused DJ and karaoke. On Saturday nights, a DJ plays heavy metal music, but soon Jimenez says he will have live metal bands now that he's secured the proper license.
Prior to opening the bar / restaurant, Jimenez organized heavy metal music events at Vnuk's in Cudahy and other South Side bars. Most of the metal bands he hires are from Chicago, mostly because there's a much larger Spanish-language rock / metal scene there, but Jimenez would like to find more local groups.
Jimenez, who was born in Mexico City, moved to the United States 12 years ago. He says he's always loved heavy metal music and has jammed in a couple of bands in the past.
"I try to play guitar," he says.
The building that houses Rockotlan has a cabin-y feel to it, which makes for an interesting mix with bright purple walls, black tapestries on the ceiling and framed album covers of the owners' favorite bands ranging from The Doors to Incubus to Slayer. There are also a few classic restaurant-style booths and a large bar with the words "meno blah blah blah y mas glu glu glu." ("Less blah, blah, blah and more glug, glug, glug.")
"It's a work in process," says Jimenez.
The beer selection is very good, with six Mexican beers available, along with four New Glarus brews, four Milwaukee Brewing Company products, Lakefront Brewery's Riverwest Stein and a few miscellaneous imports, including Guinness. The prices are affordable, ranging from $3.50-$4.50.
The margaritas are made from scratch and available in tamarind and mango, along with the classic flavor. The drink menu also features a michelada, called a "rockelada," and a variety of mixed drinks named for heavy metal and rock bands. The Iron Maiden, for example, is a margarita made with fresh cilantro and the Judas Priest combines vodka, schnapps and cranberry juice. There's also a Deep Purple and a Pink Floyd on the drink menu.
The food menu has undergone changes and a new version will premiere this weekend. Overall, it will offer an array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian appetizers and entrees, many of which are family recipes.
"We want to offer some food items that are not available everywhere else," says Jimenez.
Appetizers will include veggie nachos, a cheese fondue (made with chorizo or soy chorizo), hot wings, guacamole and chips and more. Burgers and veggie burgers are available, too, and are all named after famous Spanish rock songs.
Mexican entrees include the tacos borrachos (steak tacos), the pollo en crema de chile poblano, the chorizo ravioli, pork with a pumpkin seed mole and the chiles en nogada, which is a poblano pepper stuffed with soy beef and covered in a walnut-pecan sauce. Some dishes come with a side of spaghetti and mashed potatoes.
"We make everything as fresh as we can," says Jimenez.
Rockotalan is offering a free Summerfest shuttle to the Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Aerosmith concerts. Go to the Facebook page for more information.
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