Nestled on the corner of Broadway and Oakdale, lies a two-story Mexican restaurant serving authentic Mexican cuisine and killer margaritas. Cesar’s Killer Margaritas have been in our neighborhood since 2001, but their story starts back in 1991. Cesar’s first home was at 3611 N Clark St, about half a mile away from Wrigley Field. The original founders of Cesar’s were Israel, the current proprietor, and Cesar, his father. The idea for “Cesar’s Killer Margaritas stems from the first Clark Street location, as the margaritas came about in addition to the original menu. At one of the restaurant’s signature tasting events, after trying a sip of the margaritas, a local tattoo artist said, “These are killer!” And from there, Cesar’s Killer Margaritas was born. Interestingly enough, that same tattoo artist drew up Manny the skeleton (shown to the left). Owner Israel Sanchez answered some questions about the iconic restaurant in an interview we conducted earlier this month!

Cesar’s Killer Margaritas continues to contribute to the rich history and vibrant culture of Lakeview.
In addition to adding floors, Cesar’s has incorporated various seating areas, both indoors and outdoors, to extend the restaurant’s reach. Guests can dine with unobstructed views of Broadway or grab a seat on the patio to take in the sights and sounds of Lakeview. Cesar’s also works with local organizations, including PRIDE. The Cesar’s family is a big supporter of the PRIDE community, as the parade route goes right in front of the restaurant. Just this past June, they were selling a Pride-rita! A portion of the proceeds was donated to Howard Brown Health, which provides expert care to the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, regardless of the ability to pay.

What challenges has Cesar’s faced over the years, and how have they adapted to remain a beloved establishment in Lakeview?

Over the years, COVID presented some of the biggest challenges for Cesar’s, and the for the restaurant industry. Figuring out how to best pivot and what our next move would be was always the question. The Lakeview Chamber truly helped our restaurant, and many others, during this time by setting up different events including Dining Out on Broadway. Dining rooms were closed, but we were able to stay open because of this initiative.

Can you share a memorable anecdote or story from the early days of Cesar’s Killer Margaritas?

One of our most memorable stories is actually from our first day in business, our soft opening. We will spare the details, but a huge plumbing situation arose, followed by our entire network shutting down. Anything and everything that could’ve happened did happen that day, but because of that, it was easy to deal with anything else that popped up moving forward.

What makes Cesar’s margaritas stand out from others, and are there any secret ingredients you can hint at?

The secret to longevity, and what really makes our margaritas stand out, is our consistency. Cesar’s Killer Margaritas are made in big batch, creating consistency so that new and returning customers will get the same product each time they come to dine. We also offer a variety of flavors and sizes!

How has the relationship between Cesar’s and the Lakeview community evolved over the years?

Over our 21 years in business, the Cesar’s family has continued to find more ways to support the local, Lakeview community. We are always on the lookout for ways to connect with other businesses and restaurants, and love being able to support community events such as PRIDE.

In an era where trends come and go, how has Cesar’s maintained its authenticity and continued to attract patrons?

Although we’re not huge fans of trends, we do tend to sprinkle them in – I’d say the most recent being adding Birria items to the menu. But in addition to incorporating trends when they fit with the Cesar’s brand, we truly take pride in our entrees and menu items made with recipes handed down in our family, from generations.

Do loyal patrons share any heartwarming stories about their experiences at Cesar’s?

Cesar’s has been lucky enough to be the stage for a few marriage proposals over the years, and the restaurant has even been privy to photoshoots for engagement or wedding photos. We’ve had a few, maybe four or five, couples who went to Cesar’s on their first date, and they’ve used the restaurant to take photos during their special day. It’s been a cool experience getting to be a part of that.

What are the future plans for Cesar’s Killer Margaritas, and how do they aim to continue their legacy in Lakeview?

As we’ve come upon 21 years, Cesar’s is doing some revamping to the restaurants – lots of remodeling that is important, mainly back of house and some front of house as well. New floors, new furniture, and new audio equipment have all been a part of the restaurant’s refresh.

We aim to continue our legacy in Lakeview by working to keep serving good quality, authentic food, and striving to be a great place to work. We have a core group of employees who have been with us for over 15 years, and we take pride in creating a work environment where people look forward to coming into work. Which then creates good customer service.

How has the changing landscape of Lakeview influenced the offerings and ambiance of Cesar’s over the years?

Despite the changing landscape of Lakeview, we’ve tried to be aware of keeping things consistent and maintaining our brand, as we’ve found a lot of regulars will move out of the community, but will come back to visit looking for the Cesar’s brand they know and love.

As part of the Lakeview Legacy project, what message would Cesar’s like to convey to future generations about the importance of community and enduring businesses?

As part of the Lakeview Legacy project, my best advice is to figure out a way to give to back to the community, aside from just offering food and drinks. Finding a way to help out, no matter how big or small, especially during times of need like the holidays. Cesar’s hosts an annual Turkey Drive near Thanksgiving, and a clothing drive in early December, and these are two events I look forward to each year.

As for advice for enduring businesses, Cesar’s is an excellent example that even if it starts out rough, maybe a plumbing issue at a soft opening or a network crash, if you keep going and work hard, you can find success 21+ years later.