Nestled in the bustling streets of Chicago's vibrant Wicker Park neighborhood, Cebu Chicago stands as a beacon of modern regional Filipino cuisine. Founded by a trio of siblings—Marlon, Malvin, and Martin Tan—whose roots trace back to the picturesque island of Cebu in the Philippines, this restaurant is not just a culinary venture; it's a celebration of culture, family, and the rich tapestry of Filipino flavors.

The Visionaries Behind Cebu Chicago

Marlon Tan, the eldest sibling, and a seasoned traveler, embarked on a journey that led him from the shores of Cebu to the bustling streets of San Francisco and eventually to the dynamic culinary landscape of Chicago. Armed with a background in international business and hospitality consulting, Marlon's passion for exploration and his entrepreneurial spirit laid the groundwork for Cebu Chicago's inception.

Joining Marlon are his brothers, Malvin and Martin, each bringing their unique expertise to the table. Malvin, with his culinary prowess honed in prestigious institutions like Le Cordon Bleu, infuses traditional Filipino dishes with a modern twist. At the same time, Martin's strategic acumen ensures Cebu Chicago's success in Chicago's competitive restaurant scene.

From Island Paradise to Urban Haven

Cebu Chicago's menu is a testament to the diverse influences that shape Filipino cuisine. Drawing inspiration from the island's Chinese and Spanish heritage, the restaurant offers a mouthwatering array of dishes that pay homage to Cebu's culinary heritage. Signature delicacies like lechon, slow-roasted pork belly with perfectly crispy skin, and gambas, shrimp sautéed in a delectable blend of garlic and banana ketchup, transport diners to the bustling streets of Cebu.

But it's not just about tradition at Cebu Chicago; it's about innovation. Chef Malvin's creative reinterpretations, such as the kinilaw with coconut-ginger espuma and bourbon barrel smoked trout roe, showcase the brothers' commitment to pushing culinary boundaries while staying true to their roots.

Navigating the Entrepreneurial Seas

Opening a restaurant is no easy feat, especially in a city as competitive as Chicago. The Tan siblings encountered their fair share of challenges—from navigating the bureaucracy of permits and licenses to weathering the storms of the pandemic-induced downturn. Yet, through perseverance and a steadfast commitment to their vision, they emerged stronger than ever.

Reflecting on their journey, Marlon Tan shares, "What motivated us during the tough times was making sure to follow through on our goals and mission statement as a company. You mustn't lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish."

A Recipe for Success

As Cebu Chicago garners accolades and establishes itself as a cornerstone of Chicago's dining scene, the Tan siblings remain grounded, guided by the lessons imparted by their mentors and the wisdom of their parents. For aspiring entrepreneurs, Marlon offers invaluable advice: "Always stay determined, be persistent, and remain resilient. Surround yourself with the right people and build a strong team."

As Cebu Chicago continues to captivate the palates of food enthusiasts across Chicago, you can experience the magic of modern Filipino cuisine at:

Location: 2211 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Contact: 773-709-9153


With each dish served and each satisfied customer, the Tan siblings are not just serving food; they're fostering connections, bridging cultures, and creating a legacy that extends far beyond the confines of their restaurant.

In the words of Marlon Tan, "The sky's the limit in what Filipino cuisine could be in Chicago, and hopefully... Chicago will be well-known for Filipino food in the U.S."

Indeed, with visionaries like the Tan siblings leading the way, the future of Filipino cuisine in Chicago is more savory than ever.

Mar 6, 2024

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