“Nini's Deli is a neighborhood family restaurant that celebrates the diversity inherent in Latin American cuisine. For over thirty years, the Riesco family has existed as an essential part of the framework of their neighborhood, feeding generations of people with the same care, attention, and love that one feels when they eat at Nini's today. The food is at once conceptual in its blending of cultural seams- the intensity of Latin Caribbean flavors with rich, nourishing Mexican textures- while remaining sincere and compassionate in its delivery. The restaurant seeks to provide an inviting, unpretentious experience that is memorable on a personal level while seeking to elevate and experiment with what Latin cooking can look and taste like.”
I first learned about Nini’s Deli back in 2014 when I kept seeing people in the city posting pictures in front of a bright pink wall and talking about some guy named Juan. Living on the north side with no car made it hard to even try to visit and experience it for myself. There would be lines out the restaurant all day with people hoping they would get a chance to try some of Nini’s famous empanadas and delicious café con leche before they sold out for the day. Luckily, my brother lived near the restaurant and said I could spend the night so we could go to Nini’s in the morning. We got their early before the line was too long and I see people sitting outside eating, drinking and talking and I was like wow, I didn’t know my city had a place like this. As corny as it sounds, there was good energy all around. That day I meet Juan and learned a little about his business.
I like to think I have a good memory when it comes to people i’ve meet, Juan is something special entirely. He remembers just about every customer he meets and talks to them as if he’s known them his whole life. I remember meeting Juan years later walking downtown wearing one of his unreleased Chicago Native shirts and rushing over to tell him I need two of them when he’s eventually able to release them. Since then, i’ve been coming to Nini’s Deli almost every Saturday to start my weekend off right. It almost got to the point where Huey would see me and ask if I wanted my usual or something different. If you’re ever in Chicago, I highly recommend stopping by Nini’s Deli and getting some good food.