FOOD: Savoring 40 Years of Family Traditions at Mexico Lindo
COMIDAS FAVORITAS DE LA FAMILIA BONILLA
Mexico Lindo Restaurant has offered the best in authentic Mexican comfort food and regional specialties since Leonor and Antonio Bonilla decided to open in 1972. Their daughter, Claudia Bonilla, now runs the family business with a strong sense of purpose and pride _ providing customers with a savory choice of meals made from fresh, local ingredients. She recently shared the family’s recipe for success and upcoming plans for Cinco de Mayo in the following interview with Tania Fuentez Media.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Dub Swinehart (except those by Tania Fuentez Media)
TFM: Mexico Lindo restaurant is celebrating its 40th anniversary in New York City. What does that mean to your family? How have you survived neighborhood changes and other obstacles?
My family and I are so ecstatic to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary! It truly is an honor to have a restaurant for 40 years in NYC. We look forward to celebrating with all our friends/customers come late summer or early fall. It has not always been easy as all restauranteurs know. We’ve definitely had to keep up with the ever-growing popularity of food culture. People’s knowledge of Mexican food is so different now. Refreshingly, they are all well-informed and extremely curious behind the region and history of many of our dishes and spirits. I believe it’s very important to always further our knowledge; push it as far as it’ll go. We take tremendous pride in trying to keep things fresh. Our specials are specifically created to play around with the amazing ingredients our purveyors send us. It’s a great feeling to see the enthusiasm we receive from the specials.
TFM: The restaurant showcases Frida Kahlo in several photos and paintings. What’s the connection?
When we were younger, my parents took us to Coyoacan, Mexico. We were able to visit the “blue house” that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived in. The visit that day holds many special memories as we were with other of our closest family members from Mexico. We have always loved art and Frida Kahlo had this amazing passion for all she did. My family has the same passion for family, love and life.
TFM: As a child, what lessons did you learn in the family kitchen? Do you spend more time cooking at the restaurant now or at home?
During our childhood, all our summers were spent in Mexico … it was the most amazing childhood!!! Memories of my grandmother cooking with my mom, aunts and cousins will forever be instilled in me. From helping finish pluck the chicken, help grind the chiles in the molcajete for fresh salsas but more importantly … we would only purchase what was necessary. Everyday, we went to the amazing markets for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry, tortillas, etc. Any leftover food was given to the pigs, chickens and turkeys that my Grandmother loved to keep. There was never any waste. Lately, I have actually been staying out of both kitchens as things have been so busy; but always a good busy. One thing you learn really quick in a small family run restaurant is … you’re always doing 20 things at once. Adrenaline and coffee go a long way :)
TFM: How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Mexico Lindo? Any specials?
Oh goodness, yes, Cinco de Mayo!!!! This year in particular, we are looking to go crazy with a six-day long celebration; especially with our 40th Anniversary. As always, we will be having amazing food and cocktail specials _ Tuesday, May 1st through Sunday, May 6th. Our friends at Patron Tequila, Corazon Tequila and Fidencio Mezcal will be proudly represented!!!!
TFM: Favorite dish on the menu and why. Do you see a cookbook in the near future?
MOLE POBLANO … hands down my fave!!!! I am so proud of our Mole Poblano, it always reminds me of the one my aunt Magdalena makes me in Mexico. We serve it with small handmade corn masa tortillas. Doesn’t get any better. Cookbook, maybe in the near future. One thing we have been working on has been jarring our roasted salsas. I keep getting harassed that we must sell our salsas so hopefully …
These squash blossoms quesadillas are handmade. We do them every summer … they are amazing and my favorite all-time item!! I get my blossoms from Paulette at Satur Farms, North Fork, Long Island.
Prickly Pears, I normally get from either Mexico or California. I prefer the Mexican ones.
Heirloom cherry tomatoes are also from Paulette. It’s pretty easy to get enthusiastic about food with the amazing items we get from them. Sometimes we also do a roasted baby fennel and jalapeño quesadilla with micro cilantro and Oaxaca cheese.
Mexico Lindo: http://www.mexicolindonyc.com/
Cinco de Mayo Explained: http://www.history.com/topics/cinco-de-mayo
Dub Swinehart: www.dubswinehart.com