If you drive down North Hamilton Avenue, you might notice the ghost of Chapala Mexican Restaurant getting a revamp. The building at 1801 N. Hamilton Ave., was purchased last April by the De Leon family and has been under renovation since. Slowly but surely it is coming back to life.
“We are known for our cleanliness and for taking care of our customers,” said Sergio De Leon at the mention of Chapala’s poor reputation. “We take care of our location.”
De Leon is the owner of the series of De Leon establishments around Spokane. The most recent addition, De Leon's Taco & Bar had been rumored to open early in 2019.
The De Leon Family moved to Spokane from Portland about 20 years ago to work in warehousing. This lasted for 12 years until his wife, Marya, had an idea to leave that line of work and open a business of their own.
They began at first with a store called De Leon Foods. The store has been successful in both North Spokane and Spokane Valley locations. They have a bakery, fresh meats, Hispanic foods and a restaurant inside. The De Leon’s even have their own tortilleria, Sergio’s Tortillas, that was spotlighted by Northwest Food Brew & Wine in 2017.
In their video they mention that, “Sergio’s Tortillas can’t stay on the shelves.”
This family knows what they’re doing and they’re not messing around.
More recently, the De Leon family opened two restaurant locations around Spokane. The Gonzaga district location will be the third.
Their restaurant, De Leon Taco and Bar, first opened a location on Hawthorn near Whitworth University in 2017. There is a second one on 57th Street on the South Hill that opened in October.
Business is good according to the owner. It’s so good that the Inlander gave them the title of Best Mexican Food in Spokane in 2019. They were third in 2018.
The reason to open near GU stems from there being a big demand for tacos in the community, according to De Leon.
Sandra Vance, the Visit Coordinator at GU, was happy to hear the news of De Leon.
“Finally,” said Vance. “Some good Mexican food in walking distance from campus.”
It’s not just faculty who are ready for a new dining option.
“I haven’t had De Leon’s, but I am super excited,” said senior Caroline Epperson.
It has been about a year since they purchased the property on North Hamilton. De Leon mentioned that it’s been a slower process to opening. They have been working on other projects and are slowly rebuilding the restaurant.
“It was a mess,” said De Leon. “We have been gutting plumbing and electrical and have been working from the ground up.”
The building is looking better and better each day, slowly wiping away all remanence of the past.
But after all this talk of tacos and Spokane’s best Mexican food, you might be saying to yourself, “Well, when will be getting the long-awaited tacos?” and “What am I going to be doing on Cinco de Mayo?”
“We open at the end of the month and we will be having a Cinco de Mayo party to kick it all off,” De Leon said.
Well, you heard it here, Zags. Rincon’s got some competition for your go-to spot and Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Logan.
Alyssa Estes is a staff writer.