Salvadoran restaurant Mercadito Latino has made a new home for itself in the West End.
The restaurant opened the doors of its new location at 570 Sargent Ave. a couple of months ago, moving from its original location at 219 Henderson Hwy.
Jesse Lemus, son of restaurant owners Julian and Sonia, said the family moved locations because they found the previous location was too small.
Their initial plan was to set up at a location on St. Mary’s Road, but they haven’t been able to get the permits and make the renovations necessary to open up right away.
"The City told us the project could take any time from six months to two years, and we couldn’t be closed for that amount of time," Lemus explained.
The Lemus family still owns and pays for the St. Mary’s location.
Fortunately, the family knew the owner of La Rica Vicky, who was selling the restaurant. They bought the West End location, and said it’s been doing well since.
"It’s doing a lot better because this neighbourhood is very diverse. You can go down Sargent and find a variety of restaurants, like Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian. It’s also not very far from anyone," Lemus said.
At the moment, Lemus and his parents are still discussing whether or not they want to stay at the Sargent location or switch to the St. Mary’s location once the permits are complete.
"Initially, we believed (the Sargent location) was temporary, but it’s going so well that we’re thinking of staying," Lemus said.
Lemus said the restaurant is currently 75% restaurant and 25% store, meaning while the building is predominantly a restaurant, the space is also used to sell Latin American products.
Lemus’ parents have owned Mercadito Latino on Henderson Highway since June of 2011, buying it from the previous owners, Gerardo and Lorraine Sandoval.
"My mother was a customer of theirs, and we had always wanted to own a restaurant," Lemus said. "My mom comes from a family of eight, and each child had a different chore. My mom preferred to cook over any other chore, and she’d always be beside my grandma helping her cook."
Some of the restaurant’s most popular items include the tortilla soup and the pupusa.
"The soup is a chicken broth with chicken breast, melted cheese, sour cream, green onions, and freshly-cut avocado with tortilla chips on top. People are raving about it," Lemus said. "And the pupusa is a corn pocket made of corn flour. It’s put on a grill, and it’s filled with fillings of your choice, either cheese, beans, pork, or any other combination."
Mercadito Latino is open Tuesday to Sunday from noon until 8:30 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 204-415-2870.