When it comes to highlighting some unique elements of Mexhico Restaurant, co-owner Emmanuel Flores will proudly emphasize two aspects: genuine Mexican ownership and distinctive meat-free recipes.
“We are a Mexican-owned restaurant and fully vegan. These really set us aside from the rest," he tells BarrieToday.
Although everything is plant-based on the menu, it’s not uncommon for first-time customers to forget they are trying vegan food. Even Mexican nationals may not notice the difference.
Flores says the good reviews from customers, Mexicans included, are in part because his menu features Mexican flavours from his childhood experience.
“Our recipes explore flavours that we grew up with, and those bring us back to our homeland at every bite," he says.
Flores likes to say that meat is just a texture and that the flavour is what ultimately makes dishes taste amazing.
“Our customers love the diversity of our menu and the authenticity of our flavours. And also, the fact that there is a Mexican vegan option in downtown Barrie," he adds.
Mexhico’s most popular dishes include vegan pastor and barbacoa tacos, enchiladas, and churros.
With the pastor tacos, for instance, Flores successfully replaces pork with seasoned seitan — a mildly flavoured, high-protein meat substitute made of wheat gluten.
Before he went vegan over six years ago, Flores always felt dissatisfied about cooking meat. He loves the idea of creating vegan alternatives and exploring the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available in the market.
Besides serving vegan Mexican recipes prepared with authentic flavours and spices, Flores eagerly refers to Mexhico as a very relaxed, inclusive, and family-oriented atmosphere.
A combination of walls with vibrant colours, indoor plants and hand-painted dishes accompanied by colourful food creates a visual experience that may remind customers of their last Mexico trip.
Along with the Mexican dining experience, Mexhico also features different genres of live music every Wednesday from 6-9 p.m.
Flores added that private event and catering services are also available.
“We would set up a taco stand or use another configuration. It would all depend on the event or the demands of our customers," he says.
Operating since September 2020, Mexhico is located at 37 Dunlop St. W. Like in many restaurants born during the pandemic, sales are growing with increased traffic.
“We don’t have a way to compare sales, but we are much busier now than during the worst part of the pandemic,” Flores says.
As he looks to introduce new offerings, such as specials of the day, Flores hopes more and more people find at Mexhico a different way to enjoy Mexican food, vegans and non-vegans alike.