June 19, 2019
The Marroquin family opened Izote Latin Cocina, a Salvadoran restaurant, on May 1. So far, the in-house made guacamole, chimole, salsas and cebada, a traditional drink made with spices, barley and jimaca flower, have been a hit. Pupusas, corn tortillas stuffed with combinations of pork, cheese, beans and vegetables, are the top seller.
“Making all of the food on the menu is an immense process,” says Daniella Marroquin of the traditional cuisine. “To be able to get that authentic taste that we’ve grown up with, that our mom has been shown from her mom, takes time. We really love what we do, and we are happy that we get to share it.”
Previously, the Marroquins tested the city’s appetite for pupusas at Canada Day, the Unisphere Fashion Show, and other community events. They saw the potential for a Latin-style restaurant in a 1,200 square foot building that went up for sale in downtown Medicine Hat.
“We were able to find the perfect location, something cozy and intimate like what you would find in El Salvador,” says Daniella. “It took us a few months for us to design it the way we wanted and create a little bit of El Salvador in Medicine Hat.”
To create an authentic-feeling restaurant, the Marroquins hired Bailey Nicole Interiors + Design, a local, full-service residential and commercial interior design firm.
Owner and interior designer Bailey Tucker collaborated with the owners to draw inspiration for the colour scheme from El Salvador’s national flag, national flower, and brightly coloured orange, green and turquoise plumage of the national bird, called the turquoise browed motmot.
“It was important to incorporate an authentic Latin American feel in the design of the space,” says Tucker. “My favourite part about working on this project was how passionate the family is about their restaurant.”
Tucker also re-designed the layout to incorporate traffic flow, more seating and space for large groups. The bar and lighting were also re-designed to create a bright, modern space.
The family replaced the kitchen equipment and made aesthetic upgrades to implement the design concept, transforming the space into an authentic-feeling Latin cocina. They hired a painter, installed a feature tongue and groove wall and tasked an electrician to install new lighting. Salvadoran art and photography were hung on the walls and new tables and chairs were set up in the new layout.
Izote Latin Cocina employs two staff members, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room.
In addition to size, the Marroquins chose the building for its central location in historic downtown Medicine Hat, a neighbourhood experiencing revitalization spurred by local entrepreneurs looking for start-up space in central hub.
In the last year, craft brewery Travois Ale Works, spin studio Kollektiv Cycle, Issac’s Barber Shop, women’s clothing store Wild Clover Clothing & Lifestyle, virtual reality arcade VR Junkies and The Donut People confectionary have opened within one block of Izote Latin Cocina.
“There’s a lot of potential downtown,” says Carina Marroquin, head cook at Izote Latin Cocina. “We thought if we can get this spot, then awesome. Let’s see what we can create.”
Izote Latin Cocina is located at 650 3rd Street SE.