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Luis Garcia doesn’t just want to feed the people of Medford. He wants to nourish their minds with Mexican history.
“We’re trying to be as authentic as we can,” Garcia said of his new restaurant’s menu and decor. “We’re from Mexico City, so we try to bring as much as we can from Mexico. We remember what we had there and bring it here.”
Garcia and his family last month opened Little Mexico in Medford Plaza on Horseblock Road. It’s the family’s second location under the same name.
A decade back, Garcia’s mom Lucia opened the family’s first Little Mexico in Middle Island. People around the community kept asking for her home-cooked meals, so she decided to open the fast-paced, take-out eatery.
Garcia said “she is the boss,” and can be found cooking in the kitchen inside the Medford spot, which is a dine-in restaurant with a family atmosphere.
Authenticity and awareness
Some of the most popular dishes flying out of Lucia Garcia’s kitchen are the t-bone steak, seafood plates like camarones a la diabla and such Mexican street food as ezquites and tacos.
Garcia said Long Islanders are likely more familiar with Tex-Mex food, but his family is striving to introduce them to authentic Mexican cuisine. Based on early feedback, the community is on board and ready to learn.
“One of the customers, they said they’ve never had those tacos, just when they went to Mexico,” he said. “That’s the only other time they’ve tried something like that.”
On the drinks front, the restaurant offers flights of tequila and mezcal, the latter of which Garcia sees as an educational opportunity.
“A lot of people don’t know about mezcal,” he said. “It originally comes from three states in the country, Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero. Mezcal is similar to tequila, but the way they make it is by stone, and it gives it this smokey flavor.”
Here are some food photos of Little Mexico’s dishes via its Instagram.
‘We want to bring the history too’
Garcia is not only interested in bringing Mexican food to the island. He wants the community to learn about the country’s history as well. Photographs, illustrations, artifacts and newspaper replications of important figures from the Mexican Revolution are found all around the restaurant.
The restaurant manager enjoys talking about the efforts of Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Emiliano Zapata, two leaders in the nation’s revolution. An array of images of both men hang above the sofa in the restaurant’s waiting area.
Newspaper front pages covering their deaths hang prominently in the men’s restroom.
“We’re trying to bring as much as we can to be authentic,” Garcia said. “We want to show [the community] who [Villa and Zapata] are because they don’t know about them. As we’re trying to bring this new place to the community, we want to bring the history too.”
Running the length of the restaurant are a series of colorful dresses. While they are quite beautiful, they represent much more.
“The dresses are for a group of girls who helped the revolution,” Garcia said.
Typically referred to as Soldaderas or Adelitas, these women fought on battlefields and worked behind the scenes.
“We have these here to show respect to them, the girls who were warriors,” he said.