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Sergio’s Cantina wins 4 prizes at state fair

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 5:22 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Sergio De Los Santos and sons Christian De Los Santos, 18, and Dylan De Los Santos, 9, are pictured at the Illinois State Fair in Sprinfield. De Los Santos and his wife, Lindsey, own Sergio's Cantina in Geneva. His steak chimichurri taco won two first-place awards, the Golden Abe Award as the best overall food and the Best Tasting food, as well as second place for Creative Walking Taco and the People's Choice.

GENEVA – The steak chimichurri taco created by Sergio’s Cantina won two first-place and two second-place prizes at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, owners Sergio and Lindsey De Los Santos said.

“We are a Mexican restaurant, and we have my husband’s family recipes and traditional Mexican food on our menus,” Lindsey De Los Santos said. “About a year ago, we added a bunch of different tacos to be more contemporary. Small street tacos are very popular right now, [and] the steak chimichurri is one of them. A ‘street’ taco means they are small enough to walk and eat them.”

Sergio’s is at 30 W. State St., Geneva.

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian sauce, a blend of olive oil, garlic, parsley, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt and apple cider vinegar – a lot of flavor but not spicy, Sergio De Los Santos said.

“We added a little kick [with] Mexican cumin,” he said.

“We tweaked it,” Lindsey De Los Santos said. 

The taco is finished off with shredded cabbage, made from stratch pico de gallo and sour cream on a small corn tortilla. They’ve been serving at their restaurant for the past year, the couple said.

It was the couple’s first time ever at the state fair and the taco won first place for Best Tasting Food and Best Overall Food against 23 other contestants. It won second place for Best Walking Taco and the People’s Choice.

“The cool thing is, this is the first time it ever happened,” Sergio De Los Santos said. “They never had an overall winner; it’s a new category.”

“We could just not believe it,” his wife said. “There were non-stop lines at our booth at the fair.”

The take-home prize for their first place wins was two bobblehead trophies of Abraham Lincoln, called the Golden Abe Award. 

De Los Santos said he plans to participate with the chimichurri steak taco in next month’s Flavor Fare at the Geneva Chamber’s Festival of the Vine, which is Sept. 5 to 7. 

“It is going to be our first year at Festival of the Vine,” De Los Santos said. “I’m going to bring my bobbleheads.”

De Los Santos will also be featured on the Food Network’s new series “Carnival Eats.” He was filmed making the steak chimichurri taco at the Oswego PrairieFest in June, his wife said.

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