Las Adelitas takes up the cause of real Mexican
“He was a warrior,” says third partner Fernando Larios, 27, from Tijuana.
For nearly a year and a half, the Las Adelitas trio steadily grew their business through word of mouth and a Facebook page that announced daily specials. The momentum was enough to finally warrant opening a brick-and-mortar establishment last month, the ultimate goal since the business venture’s very beginning.
“Do you know what Las Adelitas means?” Franzino asks a reporter, who had so far neglected the obvious question. In the Mexican Revolution, adelitas were women fighters who cooked and provided for the revolutionaries, Franzino explains – in effect, the earliest feminists in Mexico.
The restaurant has been so packed for dinner since it opened, any further marketing plans are on hold at the moment, Larios says. The best marketing seems to have been the solid food Las Adelitas has been delivering, word of mouth and high-profile catering events like the Sept. 15 Mexican Independence Day celebration held by the Mexican Embassy.
“There’s quite a big community of Mexicans here,” Larios says. “The embassy says they’ve got about 300 registered, and we know a lot of people through our networks.”
The menu is small, less than a dozen dishes that are likely to be familiar to both expats and Czechs. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas are all on offer, with plans to add more items. Vinas says he has kept the flavor of the recipes as authentic as possible, ordering from special suppliers for Mexican food products and making a lot of ingredients from scratch. In deference to Czech tastes, he has tempered the use of chili slightly, but stops short of omitting it entirely.
Some of the dishes may not even be recognizable to diners who are used to Tex-Mex variations. For example, Las Adelitas’ quesadillas are homemade with stone-ground corn flour and pressed in a special quesadilla machine; the final product resembles an empanada, or turnover.
Prior to Las Adelitas, Vinas worked as a consultant for restaurants trying to offer authentic Mexican cuisine in the Czech Republic. The vast majority, he says, “don’t even come close.”
“I would go back to restaurants that I had worked as a consultant for, and they weren’t selling what I’d taught them,” Vinas says. “They would say Mexican food is not good business, and people here will never like it.”
The problem could be the perception that it’s always spicy.
“They hear ‘Mexican,’ and they think spicy chilies,” Vinas says. “There’s more to it than that. There are a lot of dishes that aren’t spicy at all.”
Las Adelitas’ décor was created by David Teajean, another partner and Mexico native. He used a mix of materials from the Czech Republic and Mexico, with iconic photographs of the Mexican Revolution and bright blue tiles. There are plans for further paint and tile work.
“The frames are from IKEA,” Franzino says mock-seriously, making his partners laugh.
So far, the majority of Las Adelitas’ clientele has been expatriates, specifically Americans. This comes as no surprise to Larios, who notes that many Americans grow up with Mexican food. Which is not to say Czechs aren’t coming, as well. The owners saw a surge of Czech diners after a posting on a Czech food blog.
Franzino says he’s happy to explain to customers what is in each dish and make recommendations to diners who may not be familiar with real Mexican cuisine. The labor of love has been a constant one, however, with all the partners wearing multiple hats of server, builder, bartender and, occasionally, cook.
“We are so happy,” Franzino says earnestly.
“And we are so tired,” adds Larios wearily.
Las Adelitas Mexican Restaurant
Las Adelitas had a solid group of regulars in Prague before the restaurant even opened its doors. Rodrigo Vinas, 30, a restaurant consultant, used his gastronomy degree and Mexico City roots to prepare a small selection of dishes every day from his home, while partner Patricio Franzoni, 26, a fellow Mexico native who stayed in Prague after studying, braved the tram lines to deliver orders all over Prague.VIEW ON MAP VISIT PAGE
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Tel. 222 542 031