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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Residents line up down the block to try Maria’s Fresh Mex

Despite limited hours, Maria’s Fresh Mex always seems to have a line out the door. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Each morning, Maria Chavez arrives at her restaurant at 5 a.m. to make fresh flour tortillas and start cooking up a menu of shredded beef, grilled chicken, fajita mix and more. The dining room is decorated with handmade piñatas and decorative frames of paper flowers made by Chavez and the smell of fresh Mexican food fills the room.

Maria’s Fresh Mex, located at 831 West St., has had a busy opening week as Grinnellians line up to get a taste of their food. With plates piled high with homemade dishes and burritos made on 16-inch tortillas, it’s not hard to see why the people of Grinnell are eager to try the new restaurant in town.

Chavez moved to Grinnell 17 years ago from Texas, where she used to own a restaurant. She’s always hoped to open a restaurant in Grinnell as well, and after working for Monsanto for 15 years she finally found the perfect place.

“I’ve been looking for this space since I first got here,” she said.

Chavez’s restaurant certainly lives up to its name, serving fresh, authentic Mexican food to the town of Grinnell. Anyone hoping to try out some of her food can look forward to tostadas, flautas, empanadas, build-your-own burritos and strawberry horchata as part of a menu packed full of different delicious options.

“Everything is homemade, even the flour tortillas,” Maria said, “so I hope everybody likes it.”

Chavez is eager for locals and students alike to try her food, and always wants to hear feedback. She welcomes people to come and try everything from the menu.

Even though running a restaurant is stressful, particularly in their opening week, Chavez loves being in the kitchen. At 67 years old, she knows she could be retired, but Chavez’s passion for cooking makes her excited to come to work every day.

Due to short staffing, Maria’s is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for now. However, the short hours have had no effect on business, as Maria has had a line out the door in the few days she has been open. People are so eager to try her food that even after closing, they are still trying to come inside the restaurant and order.

“Oh my goodness,” Chavez laughed. “I’m closing because I don’t have enough food! … Everybody’s telling me that I need to serve less than that, but I feel like if you’re paying for your plate, you can have a lot”

For anyone looking for work, Maria’s Fresh Mex is currently hiring. She says she’s more than happy to teach anyone how to work as a server in her restaurant and could use the extra hands to help out.

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Eleanor Corbin
Eleanor Corbin, Editor in Chief
Eleanor is a fourth-year political science major with a concentration in statistics. Nine out of ten times she is ready and willing to discuss embroidery, types of loose-leaf tea, and metal music. Best approached with her favorite candy, cherry Twizzler bites, in hand.
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