Tomate Fresh Kitchen prepares “gourmet street food” for lunch or dinner. We are carryout or delivery only; eat-in dining is not available.
Tomate Fresh Kitchen owner, Tania Merlos-Ruiz, started selli...ng her home-made empanadas last year at Evanston’s indoor winter Farmer and Artisan Food Market. She continued to sell them at the outdoor Downtown Farmers Market over the summer. Her offerings were such a hit with customers that she began getting more requests for catering. Opening a bricks-and-mortar store where she could pursue her creative passion for cooking was “the next logical step,” she says.
In addition to traditional and contemporary desserts, the cafe sells empanadas, tacos, burritos, gorditas, and nachos. Many options are vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Ruiz sources as many fresh ingredients as she can from local farms. Ruiz also experiments with lesser-known produce that is mainstream in Latin America: pacaya and chipilin from Guatemala; nopales, chayotes, and yucca from Mexico; chilis aji and purple potatoes from Peru; and chimichurri from Argentina. "Traditional Latin food uses mainly meat and a limited variety of herbs. I began my culinary career because I love our traditional foods, but know that we need to add more veggies to our meals.”
Chef Ruiz studied baking, pastry, and savory dishes at Washburne University. She has received numerous accolades, including a Les Dames d'Escoffier and Diageo scholarships. She caters everything from birthday parties to board meetings and university-sponsored cultural celebrations. The late Maggie Daley was a big fan of Ruiz' black bean soup. Most recently, Ruiz won first prize for her Latin-inspired fusion of spices and chilies at the Glenwood Chili Cook Off. Right now, she’s working on a pipian empanada based on a family recipe from Guatemala that combines pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and mustard greens. “I have so many ideas of what I want to do,” she says. “My food is far from traditional. We’re going to be offering specials constantly to bring in new and unique flavors.”
Tomate Fresh Kitchen prepares “gourmet street food”, from salad to dessert, for every occasion— from birthday parties to board meetings and university-sponsored cultural celebrations.