CHICAGO -- When Pablo Pineda immigrated from Guatemala to the United States with his family, he said his mother told him he had to come to the country offering something.
Pineda has done that by serving up dishes from Guatemala and Central America at his restaurant Latin Patio, located in Chicago's Belmont-Cragin neighborhood.
"I love when people try the food and they say 'Oh my God. I remember my country Guatemala,'" Pineda said.
Some of the recipes comes from his mother.
"I feel very proud giving to the people the heritage that I have from my mother," he said.
Pineda's mother, Marina Diaz de Pineda, is often in the kitchen making sure the dishes meet her standards.
"I like to visit to see how they're treating the people, the customers," she said in spanish.
Pineda said traditional Guatemalan food is a mixture of Spanish and Mayan cuisines.
"This is why it is so interesting, the taste is so beautiful," he said.
Pineda said unlike Mexican food, Guatemalan cuisine isn't spicy.
"Guatemalans don't like too spicy," he said.
The most popular dishes on the restaurant's menu are stews: pepián, revolcado and hilachas.
Pepián is a made with chicken. Pig's head and offal are in revolcado. Hilachas contains beef.
Pineda said the stews are eaten with Guatemalan tortillas.
He said the food isn't just what keeps people coming back to his restaurant.
"The most motivation I have in my life to keep the restaurant is because this place is not only a restaurant, it's like a community center," Pineda said.