When some think of Mexican food, only burritos and tacos come to mind.
Soemy Sanchez and her husband, Kelvin, are looking to show people there is so much more to Mexican food.
The couple recently opened a restaurant — called Chilaquiles — offering authentic Mexican food at 381 Montreal Rd. in Vanier.
The restaurant is named after the Mexico City dish, chilaquiles, which consists of tortilla chips topped with cilantro, sour cream, sauce, cheese and is served with a side of beans. The dish is usually eaten for breakfast in Mexico, but Sanchez says it makes a good meal for any time of the day.
She said something many people do not know about Mexican food is that it is quite diverse and varied. The food you get in one part of the country can be completely different from another, Sanchez said.
Sanchez, who is from the Yucatan Peninsula, has lived with her husband in Ottawa for seven years. She had worked in other Mexican restaurants in Ottawa until she met Fernando Gomez — the couple's business partner — at one of those establishments. Sanchez and Gomez, who is from Mexico City, quickly came to the conclusion that they should open their own eatery together.
The group bought a coffee shop called Maison Baguette at the Montreal Road location with the intention of eventually transforming it into a Mexican restaurant. They ran it as a coffee shop for about a year and a half before they realized their plan.
Sanchez said the restaurant has received a lot of support from the community since they opened in the spring and that people seem to enjoy the traditional food. In addition sharing traditional Mexican food with Canadians, she hopes to teach them a bit about her homeland's culture. The colourful restaurant's walls are draped with an assortment of Mexican art, masks and decorations.
"People are loving the food because it's homemade and we have good prices," she said. "It's also a cozy place. So a lot of Canadians love that."
Sanchez said that what makes Chilaquiles stand out from other Mexican restaurants in Ottawa is that their food is homemade and that they really try to make people feel like they're in Mexico when they come through their doors.
"I think that's the difference — that we're Mexicans doing Mexican food. So we know what we're talking about," she said.