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Couple draw on family tradition for eatery's Mexican menu

Chicken & Grill — the name may not strike one as offering authentic Mexican food, but the food at this eatery is from recipes handed down through the general manager’s family. And yes, they’re from Mexico.

Jose and Carmen Pimentel operate the restaurant at 4016 N. Tenaya Way on the northeast corner of Alexander Road. It opened in July.

They each have 13 years’ experience in Mexican restaurants. Here, Jose mans the kitchen, as he does not speak English. Carmen takes the orders and packages them.

“We wanted to run our own place because we love to make food,” Carmen said. “When we started to work in other (Mexican) restaurants, all we saw were tacos and burritos. But Mexican food is so much more than tacos and burritos.”

She said items such as sopas, gorditos and “dry” enchiladas (also available ordered “wet,” meaning with sauce) are integral to Mexican cuisine.

Also on the menu are plates for $6.99, such as a taco salad, flautas, enchiladas and chilaquiles. Meat choices include beef tongue, marinated pork, pork maws and Mexican sausage. Don’t want meat? Mexican food easily adapts to vegetarian diets.

Side dishes (think appetizers) start at $3.99 and are of a size that could be a light meal. They include huaraches, tostadas, chimichangas and fish tacos.

Keiarha Stevenson lives around the block and discovered Chicken & Grill a few weeks ago. She said she’s so impressed with the food that she’s “tried a lot of things on the menu. The food’s great … the prices are really reasonable.”

Another patron, Gerrie Demore, was there for the first time. She said the aroma of cooking food hit her the moment she walked in and smelled so good, she decided to try it.

“It’s important to support local businesses,” Demore said.

The eatery took eight months of planning to bring together. Done with bright yellow accents, the space is cheery and inviting.

The hardest part of getting it up and running took place soon after securing the site, said Carmen. After supplying the city with all the details of the operation — including the brand, models and serial numbers of all the equipment — they learned that the configuration of the space did not allow a pathway to a separate public restroom. It was too costly to change, so Chicken & Grill is allowed to have seating for only nine.

That means a lot of their business, by default, is takeout.

Carmen said that’s a shame, as “it’s important for Mexican food to be eaten warm, not taken home so it’s cooled off.”

The cafe packages the food in Styrofoam-type containers to maintain the temperature as well as possible.

“It’s the same food our parents made,” Carmen said. “(Jose’s) mom showed him how to make the rice. My mother showed me how to make chile rellenos and I make them the same as her. … Some places just use onion and garlic (to flavor dishes), but Mexican food uses other ingredients as well.”

One of those is cilantro, used to top almost everything on the menu, she said, although patrons can request that it be left off. The other ingredients? Those are trade secrets.

Hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 702-736-2048.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.