A local family from Mexico wants to share their traditions and culture with the Southwest Florida community through a casual restaurant they are launching soon in Bonita Springs.
The Salazars plan to open Malinche Mexican Cuisine on June 27 in The Center of Bonita Springs on the northwest corner of Bonita Beach Road and U.S. 41. The new Mexican restaurant moved into a 4,067-square-foot space vacated two years ago by Metro Diner, a Florida chain that operated for about three years in that local shopping center anchored by Publix supermarket and Old Time Pottery.
Brothers and co-owners Antonio and Jorge Salazar originally hail from Tlaxcala, a state in central Mexico east of Mexico City where a volcano is named for the iconic La Malinche, an indigenous woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast known for contributing to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. The volcano and its name are on the logo atop their restaurant’s sign and menu.
“What we bring from our town is not like any other Mexican restaurant,” Jorge Salazar said. “This is stuff you’re not going to see anywhere else but here. We’re cooking a lot of stuff from our mom’s, grandma’s recipes, for real.”
Jorge Salazar has worked in restaurants since he left Mexico for the United States in 2003. He and his wife, Mara, opened their own Mexican restaurant in St. Louis in 2017. They sold it last year and moved to Southwest Florida, where they have family. He, his wife and brother, Antonio, decided to open a new concept here with authentic Mexican cuisine based on their native culture.
“We are excited because we want to bring to this part of Florida this food, specifically this food,” he said. “You don’t have to travel to Mexico because here are the traditional dishes from central and southern Mexico. Those around here are not popular but for us this is the tradition.”
“We try to do something a little different,” Antonio Salazar said.
The menu includes Mexican classic entrees and appetizers as well as street tacos, tortas and even some Tex-Mex with soup, salads and sides. The sit-down restaurant will be open about 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with table service inside and outside and seating for more than 150 people. The business will initially serve beer and wine with plans to add a full bar soon.
The Salazars have had the new restaurant space since January and have been building out since then. Metro Diner’s open kitchen concept remains, but the Salazars replaced the former diner’s checkboard tile floor with an upscale wood grain and brought in tables to replace the diner’s booths. “In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be working hard to bring all the staff, hiring people and to open,” Antonio Salazar said.