Sonora's plans to bring elevated Mexico City street food to east side

·2 min read
Sonora's is planning to take over the former Simple Cafe space at 2124 N Farwell Ave.
Sonora's is planning to take over the former Simple Cafe space at 2124 N Farwell Ave.

Milwaukee chef George Ortiz has been traveling around Mexico to eat street food as a way reconnect with his heritage and to build a menu for a new east side restaurant.

He plans to open Sonora's, a rustic Mexican restaurant, at 2124 N. Farwell Ave., where Simple Cafe breakfast and lunch spot was until it closed in July 2021.

"I want it to be really rustic and authentic," Ortiz said. "I was born here, but I am Hispanic and when I travel to Mexico I walk around sidewalks and get street food. I've been fortunate to be adopted by cooks I've met. They've embraced me and taught me their techniques. I'm bringing those elements here."

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Ortiz plans to open the spot on May 29.

He has traveled to many states and cities around Mexico, but most of his recipes are inspired by street food in Mexico City.

One thing Ortiz is excited to have in his restaurant is Suadero, which is a cut of beef with a smoother texture and braised in fat, used in tacos and other dishes.

"It's a unique, rustic technique. I have gone all around and I can't find anyone who does this in Milwaukee," Ortiz said. "It's great. If you braise it slowly with patience and love, it’s the most tender piece of meat you can have."

The drink menu will also have strong Mexican influence with homemade horchata, agua fresca (fruit water), and naturally flavored shaved ice.

He will stock the bar with rum, tequila and mezcal. He has plans to import agave spirts from Mexico that cannot otherwise be found in Milwaukee.

The 3,000-square-foot interior will have artwork and pottery that Ortiz has collected from Mexico. He also will feature photos of street food chefs in Mexico who inspired the menu.

He is proposing a patio with Spanish courtyard decor; it needs city approved.

Ortiz named the restaurant after the Mexican state Sonora, where his late mother was born.

"It's an homage to the motherland, my family and our heritage," Ortiz said.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New east side Milwaukee restaurant to feature Mexico City street food