El Mero Mero Expands from Food Trucks to Restaurant
Mexican food truck El Mero Mero is readying for its expansion to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Opening on June 30 at 12223 156 St., the storefront is the culmination of two years of continuous growth for a business that opened near the beginning of the pandemic.
Owner Arturo Ramirez said it was fortuitous for El Mero Mero (which in Spanish means “the best of the best”) to have started in April 2020.
“Looking back now, we discovered that it was a great time to open a food truck because it was a takeout business,” said Ramirez. “It was the only thing open during that time, and it was something to offer people to get out of their houses because restaurants were closed at that time. We were lucky people really enjoyed our food and supported us.”
The food truck did so well that in May 2021, El Mero Mero added a second mobile operation to its roster. During that time, Ramirez began searching for a commissary space that would enable his team to prepare the food to be served through two trucks.
“We found this space, and it was really big, so we thought, why not open a restaurant since we have the square footage for it,” said Ramirez. “We created a really big kitchen where we can produce food for both trucks and the restaurant.”
Ramirez, who is originally from Mexico City, hopes El Mero Mero Taquería will provide diners with an authentic Mexican dining experience.
“We want people to take a little trip to Mexico,” said Ramirez. “The handmade and hand-painted tile on the bar was brought in from Mexico, and the glassware is handmade in Mexico. A lot of the restaurant is from Mexico.”
Although the space offers sit-down tables, Ramirez is also excited about the shelves along the wall that will allow diners to eat standing up, something typically found at taquerías in Mexico.
The menu at the Taquería will serve the food trucks’ most popular items, including the top-selling birria, slow-cooked beef accompanied by a dipping broth. But the restaurant will also showcase other types of dishes that would not have the space or time to be prepared on a food truck.
“Canastas, or basket tacos, are a typical breakfast in Mexico,” said Ramirez. “We put the tacos in these little baskets and cover it with parchment paper and put really hot oil on them. All the heat evaporates and sweats the tacos.”
While diners can expect El Mero Mero’s signature made-to-order churros at the Taquería, several new desserts, such as a caramel flan, will debut as well. “We will also have platanos fritos where we deep-fry the plantain and cover it with sweet sauce and sour cream. It sounds simple but combines flavours that are really good,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez is aware that his restaurant is joining a host of Mexican establishments that have opened in Edmonton over the past decade, but he believes the focus on authenticity and scratch cooking sets El Mero Mero apart. For instance, its flour tortillas are handmade, while its corn tortillas are all homemade.
“One of the things that we have that other restaurants don’t is a vertical broiler. It is like a rotisserie and cooks meat in a real way like in Mexico City,” said Ramirez. “We also cook our carnitas in a copper pot. The reason is that it gives more sweetness to the meat, and provides the actual flavour you should be expecting.”
Lastly, Ramirez believes that his charitable philosophy has been a key factor in customer loyalty. El Mero Mero chooses a different charity every month and donates a portion of sales in order to give back. In May, for instance, the company donated $1,200 to the Paralympic Sports Association. “People want to support us because we support the community,” said Ramirez.
Although the past two years have been a whirlwind, Ramirez said that the time leading up to the restaurant opening has been the most taxing. “I have grown so many white hairs in the last two months,” laughed Ramirez. “But it will pay off.”
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- Pho Boy announced that they will be closing on July 24, 2022.
- Bloom Cookie has closed their booth at the Bountiful Farmers’ Market. Bloom’s 124 Street shop continues to be open and they will also be at the Currents farmers’ market.
- Save the date for the Alberta on the Plate festival, from August 12-21, 2022. So far, four Edmonton area establishments have signed on to be a part of the event.
- Evoolution’s 104 Street location is moving to the Brewery District after 10 years downtown. They will be opening their new shop in late June at 120 Street and 104 Avenue.
- Twyla highlighted local business Golomein.
- Culina has put together an Indigenous Box, featuring a variety of products including Untamed Feast Chaga Tea, Preserved Foods Boutique Saskatoon Berry Gin Jam, and Culina Fry Bread Mix.
- Edify profiled On the Edge’s Bellwether Coffee roasting process and sampled the picnic box from Under the High Wheel.
- CBC Radioactive featured segments with Northern Chicken and Jack’s Burger Shack about their expansion Downtown, and Devon-based Dragonball Kitchen.
- Socrates Restaurant was chosen by readers of the St. Albert Gazette as the best server/place of business.
- Local butchers Corey Meyer and Elyse Chatterton are preparing to compete in the World Butchers Challenge in September in Sacremento.
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- Last week, as a part of documentary project, two artisans from Mexico demonstrated how to make sugar skulls at The Kitchen at the Milner Library.
- Congratulations to Phil and Robyn on winning Jack’s Burger Shack’s first ever Burger Kumite competition.
- A local student from St. Joseph Catholic High School won gold in cooking at a Skills Canada competition in May.
What I Ate
- I had a great birthday brunch at Rosewood Foods on Saturday. Their lemony buttermilk pancakes are like a dream, and even at that hour, we had a great people watching vantage point on the patio. It’s so great to have them in our ‘hood.
Patio brunch at Rosewood