Lansing Shuffle adds Mexican cuisine to its six-restaurant roster


As a child, Ivan Vera spent most of his evenings at a jewelry store owned by his grandmother Rosa Chavez in Chicago’s predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen.

“She had a little kitchen in the back, and we grew up watching her cook,” he said.

She exemplified values that would stick with Vera throughout his life.

“She was really resourceful, and now it bugs me when people are wasting food, or when someone says there’s no food in the fridge,” he said. “If my grandma heard you say that, she would grab your hand, take you over there and walk you through how to whip up something out of nothing.”

Chavez’s influence can be seen throughout her grandson’s new culinary venture, Takitos AF, which on Saturday (Dec. 20) became the sixth restaurant to open inside Lansing Shuffle. Her original taquito style is immortalized on the menu as the “OG” option, while a framed photo of her sits on a shelf behind the register, next to a shot of Chicago and another of her late husband, Nicolas Chavez.

The idea for the restaurant started to take shape, in part, when Vera, 29, found out he was going to become a father in 2022. At the time, he had spent more than a decade working as a server at Cancun Mexican Grill on Jolly Road in Okemos, which is partially owned by his father and uncles.

“I knew I needed to do something different,” Vera said. “With the whole restaurant, what I’m trying to do is just express myself. That’s why I wanted to have my own concept, instead of just partnering with Cancun or something.”

Takitos AF is different, from the spelling of its name to the casual Millennial verbiage on its menus and signs to the simple yet delicious dishes it serves.

Customers can choose from taquitos, chimichangas, rice bowls or loaded fries, with six different topping styles and a slew of different protein options, including two that are plant-based. Add-ons include sides like rice and beans, queso, chips and salsa and guacamole; beverages like horchata and margaritas; and desserts like flan, tres leches cake and cheesecake chimichangas.

Where the menu may seem to be lacking in quantity, the quality — inspired by Chavez’s teachings — is certainly there.

“I’m always going to be trying to think of ways I can get the most use out of ingredients that we already have,” Vera said. “I don’t like having one ingredient that you only use in one dish when you have 20 other dishes on the menu. It’s an efficient way to make sure everything gets used so we can keep things as fresh as possible.”

Vera’s minimalist approach fits in well at the Shuffle, where he shares a space with five other restaurants and a bar.

“What I like about it is that all the businesses help each other out here,” he said. “If I bring in a group of people, maybe not everyone wants to have Mexican that day. So, if my friend brings along some of his friends, they can all get what they want, and then they’re probably also going to try everyone else’s food, too. I know that if I do well, my neighbors are going be successful as well.”

Ivan Vera, Lansing Shuffle, Takitos AF, Rosa Chavez, Nicolas Chavez, Chicago, Pilsen, Mexican, taquitos, food, dining, restaurants, riverfront,


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