Mexican native and new Kingston resident Juan Torres says that eating in midtown is one of the best things about living in Kingston. Several Latin-American restaurants have appeared on the scene to serve the burgeoning Latin American communities.
There is much evidence of a significant Hispanic presence in midtown. Cynthia’s Mexican Bakery has been around for years. There’s the Express Latinos deli and minimarket. Sunshine Markets behind Burger King sells fresh and packaged Latin-American imported foods. Several smaller markets offer check-cashing and Western Union services, and sell lottery tickets. Customers can buy imported billfolds, pottery and jewelry, plus essentials such as toilet paper, Mexican spices and cooking ingredients. Imported Central-American products like horchata sweet beverages are available, as are Mexican DVD movie rentals. Colorful fliers advertise music, bands, concerts, rooms for rent and church events.
And there are the restaurants. Mi Ranchito has been around for years. Paisano’s is a restaurant in what used to be a Latin bakery. Mi Casita specializes in Mexican, Guatemalan and Salvadorian food. El Rey del Pollo, opening in December, will bring rotisserie chicken and ribs to the neighborhood.
Paisano’s, at 680 Broadway, sports a brand-new neon “open” sign flashing wildly in the window to inform el publico what’s up. Paisano’s Bakery was opened by Hildalith Zapata in 2008 and given to her father in 2010. She and her husband, Julio Herrejon of Mexico City, have reopened it as both a restaurant and a bakery, with her parents working behind the scenes. There are bakery shelves filled with pastries. The space includes dining tables, a television, and the bakery’s original pool tables. The cuisine will consist of authentic Mexican food ranging from tripe (beef intestines) or beef-feet tacos to Oaxacan cheese, rice and beans, in addition to pasteles (pastries).
Herrejon, 27, works as a food server in an upscale chain restaurant. Despite his short five-year American residency, he speaks excellent English. He said he moved here upon hearing rumors of an overall better life, which he said he has confirmed for himself. Zapata, 33 and also a Mexican native, is manager for Orange County Office of the Aging. She speaks flawless English and wishes to educate about her culture. As is typical within the Latino immigrant community, the couple will for now both be maintaining their fulltime jobs as well as operating the restaurant.
The hamburgeuesas at Paisano’s are something like our American hamburger, only served as it is in Mexico, layered with pineapple, cheese, bacon, ham or other non-American-style combinations. The couple wants to expand outside the Latin-American community to teach people what “real Mexican” food is. They want to attract the Caucasian, Asian and African-American communities. Zapata boasted that Paisano’s mole sauce is made from 37 different ingredients, all ground by her mother’s hand. Once people get hooked on the joy of a real, authentic Mexican taco, Zapata and Herrejon expect they will also be able to sell some of the hard-to-find ingredients for people to make their own tacos at home.