C. Manny’s Mexican Cuisine II & Cocktail Bar

Kelly Aarstad

Located on the corner of Elston Avenue and Irving Park Road, you will find C. Manny’s, a charming Mexican restaurant and bar. In addition to conventional Mexican cuisine, the quaint eatery offers Cuban and Tex-Mex fare. The restaurant’s modest exterior may be misleading. This is not a stop-and-go style restaurant. On the contrary, inside you will find un restaurante muy elegante, famoso por su comida del mar, or in other words, “a very elegant restaurant famous for its seafood.”

“C. Manny’s food isn’t just from one region from Mexico, or even just Mexico for that matter. Manuela is Cuban and Carlos [her husband] is from Mexico [co-owners of C. Manny’s].” said María Elena Rodriguez, who has been working at C. Manny’s since it opened in 1987.

C. Manny’s specialty is the Guachinango al Mojo de Ajo, a red snapper entrée served with a savory sauce made from garlic, lemon, oranges and onions. It is one of the many favorites offered on the wide-ranging menu. The Guachinango al Mojo de Ajo is actually a Cuban dish.

Along with Cuban food, C. Manny’s features Tex-Mex fare, mixture American and Mexican cuisines. Nachos are a popular Tex-Mex indulgence. In C. Manny’s version, each individual corn tortilla chip is covered in a choice of meat topped off with fresh cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and sour cream. “I still can remember when we didn’t even serve our nachos with meat. That happened due to popular demand,” says longtime employee María Elena Rodriguez.

C. Manny's Fiesta appetizer and their freshly baked chips and salsa

C. Manny’s staff is gracious and charming. During its 22 years of operation, C. Manny’s has changed locations once. For nearly 14 years, the establishment was located at 4152 N. Elston Avenue. But C. Manny’s loyal staff has preserved the restaurant’s distinctive cuisine and personal flare.

A distinguishing feature of C. Manny’s is the delivery of freshly baked tortilla chips and homemade salsa the moment you are seated. Along with the outstanding service and creative entrées, the salsa is surely worth noting. Not only is it delicious, it also provides just enough kick to give your taste buds a wake-up call before the meal to come.

A popular appetizer is the C. Manny’s Fiesta. This is includes two mouth-watering nachos, two cheesy quesadillas, and two delectable chimichangas and This is a favorite among many patrons, including frequent-diner, Ann Galligan. “Being able to have all three of my favorite starters on one plate doesn’t make it difficult when it comes to deciding on what to begin with,” Galligan said.

C. Manny's Fishbowl Sized Margarita

Another favorite on the  C. Manny’s menu, that happens to be a liquid treat, is the fish bowl-sized margarita. This specialty margarita is perfect for two and comes in a variety of fruity flavors, which makes it hard to resist. These frozen delights are available in banana, pineapple, or strawberry and garnished with a lime and salt, if desired.

The décor at C. Manny’s is like no other Mexican restaurant that I have ever been to. C. Manny’s interior décor is a reflection of the fusion of Mexican, Cuban, and American cultures.

Upon walking into C. Manny’s an invigorating aroma that tempts your senses and lingers in the air. The dining area is dimly lit, but this is off-set nicely by the bold brightly colored walls. This design is a popular Mexican-style of interior décor. Another style can be seen on its walls and ceiling textured with rough adobe and stucco. The primarily Mexican-influenced décor is accompanied by furnishings and decorations that incorporate both Mexican and American cultures.

An Interior Shot of C. Manny's

There are numerous Mexican-themed relics such as stoned carvings and a large tonalpohualli (the Aztec calendar) just above a digital juke box filled with Latin Hits. Currently, Mexican marionettes hang from the ceiling alongside dangling shamrocks for the upcoming St. Paddy’s Day holiday. Mexican beer advertisements like Bohemia, Carta Blanca and Sol sit side-by-side Miller, Bud, and Michelob Ultra advertisements. The fusion of C. Manny’s Mexican, Cuban and American influences has been a contributing factor to the restaurant’s continuous success.

There are countless Mexican restaurants throughout Chicago’s Northwest side, but few  can compare to the delectable entrées and gracious customer service offered at C. Manny’s. If you haven’t  discovered what C. Manny’s has to offer, you’re missing out not only a great meal but a culturally enriching experience. With prices ranging from $6 to $15 and weekly food and drink specials, this neighborhood-oriented restaurant won’t break the bank.

If you are unable to dine-in and experience C. Manny’s atmosphere and cuisine, pick-up and carryout services are available. I absolutely recommend that you try out what C. Manny’s has to offer: Incredible food, captivating scenery, and vivacious personalities.

“When there’s trouble deciding between the hundreds of Mexican restaurants available in the city, C. Manny’s is the ‘no-brainer’ choice,” said regular customer Anna Sterczek.

Check It Out: C. Manny’s

3641 West Irving Park Road

(773) 583-1590


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