222 S. 9th St., Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
Hours: Sun.- Thurs. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Jennifer Carmona and her husband Oscar, better known as Carlos, have always worked in the restaurant industry. They began saving up to open their own restaurant and in 2017, Guero’s Mexican Restaurant became a reality. Born in Mt. Vernon, Jennifer has always had ties to the city she grew up in. Guero’s is located in the heart of downtown as Jennifer believes, “The downtown is the cornerstone of the entire city.”
Being open now for two years, Guero’s sees regular customers daily. Jennifer takes the time to know her customers and can remember many of their daily orders. Guero’s currently has 25 employees. Many of those employees have had previous management experience. Discussing the types of employees they hire, Jennifer states, “I like people who are actually hospitable. They genuinely like people. It’s the only thing I look for.” Carlos hires and trains all of the back-of-house employees. Jennifer admits owning a restaurant and running it by yourself is hard. Shuffling, planning, and organizing, can become a stressor as the days are always busy. The most rewarding part of owning Guero’s? Jennifer states, “I get to do what I love to do.”
For someone that has never dined at Guero’s, Jennifer describes the food as “authentic Mexican recipes with an American spin”. Dishes are known for their different flavor, as Carlos creates his own secret seasoning that goes on every dish he makes. And their tamale recipe? It belongs to Carlos’s mother. Carlos preps all of the ingredients, in house, each morning. He arrives at 8 a.m. and his team joins him at 9 a.m. to make sure everything is ready for opening at 11 a.m. Jennifer explains, “We make beans, rice, and salsa every morning. Cutting corners is where you lose people. You get what you pay for.” If Mexican food isn’t your favorite cuisine, Guero’s still has an entrée for you! Enjoy a bacon cheeseburger or philly cheesesteak while your family chows down on burritos and tamales.
Restuarantguru.com lists Guero’s as the #1 restaurant in Mt. Vernon, based on average ratings across the internet. The Mexican restaurant has won different awards for two tasty and unique dishes. The Vallarta, winning People’s Choice 2018 at the Taste of Mt. Vernon, is a dish with specially seasoned grilled chicken and shrimp paired with sautéed mushrooms and onions, drizzled with queso over a bed of rice. Jennifer notes, “Our queso is a special recipe. If you try anyone else’s, you’ll be able to tell.” Their Al Ambres Fajita with chicken or steak won second place in Hamilton County. Anything coined “on the beach” is a best seller at Guero’s. Chicken, steak, or shrimp served over a bed of rice with queso. New to the menu, you can now try tamales or beef tips on the beach. Other menu items you’ll find at Guero’s include shrimp or fish tacos, steak and eggs, sizzling fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, carnitas, drinks, desserts, and more!
On Cinco de Mayo, Guero’s hosted their first block party and was blown away by the amount of participation and success of the event. They closed 9th street and offered face painting, inflatables, a homemade salsa contest, taco eating contest, running with the bulls, dance competition, vendors, Mexican street food, and so many other fun activities. Jennifer’s goal was to get everyone outdoors to enjoy a day together. She comments, “I wish I lived in the 50s. Neighborhoods used to come outside and hang out. That’s how you got a closer bond.” Many are looking forward to Guero’s next festival for Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, November 2nd.
When you support local businesses, you are supporting local families by paying them directly and keeping the money here. Jennifer remarks that many business owners on 9th Street all shop from each other regularly. She tells her employees that she isn’t their boss, the customer is. When a customer comes in to eat, they are paying an employee’s check, not Jennifer and Carlos. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement for Guero’s. By helping other organizations in the community and catering to many outside groups and events, Guero’s has seen a return on support and growth in their business.
The next time those Mexican food cravings kick in, take a trip to Guero’s Mexican Restaurant! Chat with Jennifer and Carlos and enjoy Mexican recipes with an American spin.