After more than 20 years working in other peoples’ restaurants, a local married couple is finally serving up their own dishes. Prepared fresh in a trailer adorned with dozens of monarch butterflies, the newly opened Taqueria Monarca is the latest spot for authentic Mexican cuisine in Lansing.
While it opened last week in the Sunoco gas station parking lot, owners Mario Quintero and Ana Cavazos first had the idea to open their own food truck when the pandemic hit. After encouragement from their three college-aged daughters, the couple decided to bring their own recipes to life.
“In restaurants, a lot of people would say the food is good,” Quintero said. “But that food wasn’t made with my recipes. Now, we can create these menu items my way, with our own flavor.”
Both from Mexico, the couple blends flavors of their roots on the menu of their trailer.
Quintero is from Michoacán, a state near the center of the country, and Cavazos is from Tamaulipas, a state near the southern border of Texas on the Rio Grande. Quintero’s home state is known for sopes and gorditas, while Cavazos’ state is famous for carne asada tacos. Cavazos said Taqueria Monarca delivers “a combination” of both.
“People can enjoy that our food comes from our family's traditions,” Cavazos said. “[That’s] the most important thing for us.”
The concise menu consists of 10 dishes, like tacos, quesadillas and burritos, though it might expand to include weekly or monthly specials from other countries — like Chinese-Mexican food.
For those in a rush, all of the current items can be made in 10-15 minutes. Quintero said the dishes are “quality food in a quick time.”
“This is a small food trailer and people are in a hurry to eat,” Quintero said. “We don’t want people to have to wait a half hour to get lunch.”
As for the inspiration behind the name, Cavazos explained that monarch butterflies migrate from central Mexico, where Quintero is from, to North America.
“The butterfly represents immigrants, and we are immigrants,” she said.
Follow Taqueria Monarca on Instagram at @taqueriamonarca.
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