Chef and co-founder of Cafe Tola and Tolita, Victoria Salamanca grew up in Chicago and spent every summer with her grandparents in Florida. They were fruit and vegetable pickers, so she was surrounded by their cooking and helped them sell food at flea markets. Tolita is what Victoria's grandparents called her when she was little, because she is named after her grandmother. They called her grandmother Tola for short, Doña Tola, and Victoria would be Tolita. After launching her own catering company, one of her clients, Ogilvy & Mather, gave her the opportunity to compete for a contract to provide barista services to their employees. Victoria gave herself a crash course studying coffee-making, and got the contract. On top of coffee and tea, Victoria started offering the best-selling item from her catering menu: empanadas along with Mexican comfort foods inspired by her grandmother's cooking. She began with her most familiar ingredients, like braised pork and chicken tinga. Soon she started experimenting with flavors like chicken pot pie and buffalo chicken. Today, Cafe Tola is a staple in the Southport neighborhood.
Tolita joins Politan Row Chicago serving soulful tacos and posole evoking the same familial spirit and flavors that Cafe Tola followers have grown to love.