I don't follow many rules in life but one of my steadfast ones is, if I see a new Mexican restaurant in town, I'll try it as soon as possible.

The Jalapeno Grill is the newest Mexican restaurant in Loves Park. It's in the building that used to be Spring Garden Family Restaurant and then Ojeda's on Riverside just west of N. 2nd St.

NOTE: Ojeda's was an EXCELLENT restaurant. Possibly too nice for its location. I hope the people that ran it are doing something similar today.

R.I.P in peace Ojeda's


The good news is that the restaurant that replaced it has some of the best and unique food in the area.

One of the first things that you'll realize if you try searching for it anywhere online is that it doesn't have much of a web presence. Like at all. No Facebook page. No Yelp reviews (that are essentially worthless BTW), the only thing I could find was an image of the menu off a google review.


A few things caught my eye on the menu. They had an extensive seafood selection, the hottest taco trend at the moment, the quesabirria taco, and something I'd never heard of before, mulitas.

I was going to try it that night.

They were moderately busy for a Tuesday, which was good since my sister and I needed some time to look over the menu. You can order from the counter for take out or they have sit down service.

I went with the mulita, a sope, and some of their shrimp in a guajillo garlic chile sauce.

Here's my very unprofessional photo.


I'm very pleased to report that it was all very good and the shrimp was some of the best I've ever had.

My sister went with the torta, which I also took a poor picture of.


Her reviews were similarly raving.

While I was waiting I had a conversation with the guy at the counter about the restaurant. I told him this was a VERY polished restaurant to be independently owned and wondered if this was some type of franchise.

He told me that this is the first Jalapeno Grill in the country. The owner of the restaurant has multiple other places around the country including Chicago and wanted to try to build a franchise called The Jalapeno Grill.

So basically, Loves Park was chosen as a test market for an authentic Mexican restaurant franchise that's backed by an already very successful Mexican restaurateur. And the quality definitely shows.

They're also open for breakfast. I'm assuming the breakfast burrito is also excellent, I'll be checking on that sooner than later.

P.S. Do NOT sleep on the large selection of agua frescas they have at Jalapeno Grill. I can officially recommend the melon flavor, but they all sounded great. The flavors rotate frequently, so make sure you ask what they have.


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