DEARBORN — With halal food choices still somewhat limited, many local Muslims find themselves unable to enjoy the same types of food that others do.
But now, thanks to the opening of Fuego Grill in Dearborn earlier this month, Mexican food favorites along with the signature creations of head chef Sam Alvarado can be enjoyed at what he calls the only restaurant of its kind in the Midwest.
"I've always wanted to open a halal Mexican restaurant, and so far the response from the Muslim community has been really positive; we've always felt that something like this was overdue."
Alvarado, who studied at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and has considered cooking his favorite hobby since he was in grade school, created Fuego Grill with a goal of bringing quality made-from-scratch Mexican favorites along with his own signature creations to a new customer base.
Popular dishes range from tacos, burritos, and quesadillas on the "Classic Cravings" section of the menu to the Cancun chicken or chicken/steak milanesa entrees as part of the "tortas," or Mexican sandwiches, portion of the menu. The menu also features a great deal of customization possibilities in regards to ingredients for each item along with daily specials with items ranging from a few bucks all the way up to higher-end dishes around 15 dollars.
Sam Alvarado's co-founder and brother Danny talked about the experience of sharing his passion for food with the local community.
"There are several generations of younger Muslims who don't always want to eat the traditional food and this gives them the opportunity to adhere to their religion," he said.
"We're happy to provide this to them; these are our friends and our neighbors and we love it here."
The brothers grew up in the Dearborn Public Schools system and worked under their father at the popular Mexican Fiesta restaurants in Canton and Dearborn Heights.
Sam Alvarado met current Fuego Grill Kitchen Manager Ahmad Ghamloush in 7th grade and tapped into his knowledge of the local community to help create Fuego Grill.
Resting in the spot that used to be Maroush Restaurant, Fuego Grill opened as a casual-yet-classy sit-down restaurant with the added touches of Latin flair provided by a warm, vibrant color scheme featuring zarape stripes along the walls and a brick interior.
Sam Alvarado wanted to convey a Latin passion for life with the design, a trait he also puts into his cooking.
"Everything is made in-house except for the tortillas, nothing's over-processed and we try to use as many local ingredients as we can," he said.
"That's my own personal philosophy, to make everything from scratch, it's part of my own style."
The brothers also have a passion for community building and local farmers and hope to take their love of quality food to Detroit and perhaps beyond down the line.
But for now, they're focused on creating their own identity in Dearborn and making Fuego Grill a success through catering community events and spreading the word about their new venture.
They've catered local events through their own Fuel Motor City catering line and offer the service through Fuego Grill as well. Delivery is also available and free wi-fi is offered at the restaurant also.
In addition, the website www.fuegogrilldetroit.com is up and running with online ordering coming soon while the site's Facebook group has also become popular. A grand opening is scheduled for July 18 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned. Sam Alvarado hopes it's the beginning of a long, pleasant stay in Dearborn for the restaurant.
"We want to make an impact and be a positive force in the community and I would love to be a model for the way different religious and ethnic communities can work together and be successful and happy and have mutual respect for each other's faith and culture. We want to prove that the American dream is still alive and well in metro Detroit."
Fuego Grill is open at 11 a.m. from Monday-Saturday and opens at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The restaurant closes at midnight from Sunday-Thursday and is open until 2 a.m. on Saturday and Friday.To place an order, call 313,581.9800.