Margarita's Bar & Grill opens in West Duluth
Mexico Lindo’s sister location is serving up a similar menu of authentic Mexican cuisine in the Spirit Valley neighborhood.
DULUTH — Authentic Mexican cuisine is now available in West Duluth at Margarita's Bar & Grill . Known as the sister location of Mexico Lindo in the Fitger's complex, Margarita's opened Aug. 8 at 4602 Grand Ave. in the former location of G.B. Schneider & Co.
Margarita's offers seating for nearly 130 people in the 4,600 square-foot space. The dining area was newly remodeled to include a Dia los Muertos mural, created by local artist Taylor Rose.
Owner Lorena Velez said Mexico Lindo and Margarita's offer similar menu items to keep the food as traditional to her heritage as possible.
Originally from Ecuador, Velez moved to Mississippi 22 years ago as a foreign exchange student. After high school, she stayed to attend Mississippi College, and in 2003, she began working at a Mexican restaurant to pay for tuition. With the support of her employer, she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, and went on to complete her master's degree in 2008.
After moving to Minnesota in 2012, she began working at Mexico Lindo, where she learned various aspects of the kitchen. There, she began reworking recipes without changing the essence of the food, she said. When the previous owner's lease expired, Velez decided to purchase Mexico Lindo in May 2020.
"And that is how Mexico Lindo came to be my house," Velez said. "It's home. My restaurants are about feeling at home. My hope is that customers feel welcome and that they enjoy the food."
On a typical day, Velez and the main chef can be found between the kitchens of each restaurant cooking up sauces and meats to ensure food between locations tastes similar. Some of her favorite dishes to make are chiles rellenos, chimichangas and quesadillas.
"I love it, especially when I'm not super busy and when I have the time to give it the extra touch," Velez said.
Both of her parents were influential to her passion for serving up traditional meals, as everyone in her family enjoys cooking, Velez said. Her entire family is involved with the restaurant, including her husband from Jalisco, Mexico, and their three children.
"They are always with me. My oldest is 14 and she helps in front of house as a host. My middle is 11 and loves to help prep by cutting green peppers, and my little one is 4 and plays with cars on the floor," Velez said. "The kitchen is the center of families. We all gather around the kitchen, whether your house is big or small. Growing up, I was introduced to all kinds of meals. Mexico Lindo is more of a passion."
The family's decision to open a second restaurant was to test if their type of food was needed somewhere else in Duluth. Velez said she loves the homey feel of the Spirit Valley neighborhood.
"Margarita's has been received very well by a lot of locals. Instead of the downtown traffic and construction, it's a place they can just drive up to. Customers have been pretty steady," Velez said.
Margarita's is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.