Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month: Have you tried any of the area’s Hispanic restaurants?


Taquiera Maria Bonita has two locations in the Historic Triangle and prides itself with their wide selection of tacos and homemade salsas. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Guadalupe Arreola)

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15- Oct. 15, and this year’s theme is “Be proud of your past, embrace the future.”

That theme may focus on Hispanics, but people of all walks of life, cultures, race and creed may also partake in the knowledge and learn about the culture.

And what better way for a novice to do that than delving in the many flavors and craftsmanship of Hispanic food.

In continuance of acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month, WYDaily looked into what local Hispanic food restaurants are doing during the pandemic.

They are unique, they are bold, and they have a tasty menu, too.

Here’s what’s cooking:

Taqueria Maria Bonita

Guadalupe Arreola and Kyle Thomas opened up Taquiera Maria Bonita on Mooretown Road about two years ago. In the kitchen, Thomas is the head chef with Arreola’s mother, also named Guadalupe, cooking beside him.

Arreola’s mother makes all the sauces and tamales each day, too.

Some menu items unique to the Williamsburg area are their special Mexican soups, such as menudo and pozole.

They also have an abundant selection of tacos to choose from, including tripitas, carnitas, lengua, and scallops.

Arreola added they are looking to add grasshopper tacos to the menu.

“We try to make tacos from anything,” she said.

Even better, everything on the menu is also under $11.99, Arreola added.

But running a restaurant during a pandemic hasn’t been easy either.

Arreola said the restaurant originally had 14 tables with a maximum capacity of 50 customers at a time. Now, they can only serve 25 people at a time.

“Yes, it’s been hard. We are spending more money on containers, but it’s safer for everyone,” she said.

Right before the pandemic hit, Arreola was also planning on opening a second location on York Street. She and Thomas had to delay the opening to June 15.

Luckily, having a second restaurant turned out to be a saving grace.

“At the Williamsburg location, we have more space so people are more relaxed,” she said.

Arreola added more families seem to go to the Mooretown Road location, but people go to the York Street restaurant if they want to relax and have a few drinks.

La Casona

This restaurant opened up earlier this year off Jamestown Road, and already, they are making a name for themselves with their visually appealing margaritas.

But what is pleasant to the eye is also a treat for the taste buds.

They have more than 13 margarita options, including a “Margarona,” a margarita with an ice cold Coronita stuck in the middle.

“If you want a lemonade, I’ll give you a lemonade. If you want a margarita, I’ll give you a margarita,” Christian Illanes, owner, said.

Aside from more margarita options and a friendly atmosphere, La Casona also offers menu items from all over Latin America, including traditional barbecue. They also offer Pisco Sour, a traditional Chilean drink.

Illanes, who has more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, decided to open his own restaurant after seeing a need for a place in Williamsburg that offered a family-friendly experience and great food to accompany it.

“We wanted a restaurant that was comfy,” he said. “It’s like family. If you want to scream, scream. If you want to dance, then dance.”

And La Casona literally is a family restaurant. Working the restaurant alongside him is his wife, Marcela Guzman. Together, they have two daughters, who frequent the restaurant.

When La Casona isn’t serving specialty drinks, the restaurant also serves the community by offering free meals to families in need.

“I’m so glad to continue to serve the free meals to the people who are in trouble,” Illanes said. “We try to help the people, we really try to help the people”


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