La Fritanguera: Covid update

Editor's note: This is the third of a series of 4 mini articles written by Yara Elian, a High School Senior, providing an insight into how local Bay Area restaurateurs are coping in these uncertain economic times caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. If you are local to the Bay Area, please support these featured restaurants. If you are not local to Bay Area, please support your local restaurants- they really are in need of our patronage!

La Fritanguera is a true family business. While Jennifer, the owner, runs the kitchen full-time, her husband does most of the shopping, her mother makes most of  the pastries, and her daughter helps out with everything else on a regular basis.

Jennifer was born in Nicaragua during Nicaragua's Civil War. When she was 5 years old, she took a trip by bus, and later by car, with her mother from Nicaragua to Mexico and then from Mexico to Concord, California. It was only years later that the family was able to reunite after their immigration papers were finally approved.

The La Fritanguera chef has indulged herself in cooking since she was 7 years old. She loved to treat people to what she thought of as “food art”. Before starting her own restaurant, Jennifer worked in retail and administrative jobs, but her heart wasn’t in it. Her life turned around the moment she was given an opportunity to start a career in the catering business. Jennifer willingly quit her current job at the time and went for it.

Opening her first restaurant on Colfax Street in July 2017, Jennifer adored her tiny but cozy location. However, the learning year was very difficult: dealing with food costs, payroll, staffing, and work-life balance. With time, Jennifer found her groove, and became deeply in love with her work. “I'm just happy in the kitchen,” she says. “I love this restaurant, it keeps me connected to my roots. I love Nicaraguan food and my mission is to have the world taste it.”

Adjusting to the COVID-19 reality has been tough for Jennifer and her restaurant. Her sales dropped 80% and she had to make significant adjustments to optimize the menu. She removed pre-cooked items like shredded beef, beef tongue, and one of customers’ favorites, Chancho Frito, in order to reduce waste. The first week she had to throw away these dishes because she wanted to offer fresh food. Now, La Fritanguera offers steak and chicken that are made to-go. La Fritanguera is open with shorter hours and days to save on payroll and utilities.

For those that have never tried Nicaraguan food, Jennifer suggests trying the family deals: 2 adults and 2 kids for $20.00. The ensemble includes grilled boneless chicken thighs, and beans and rice. Jennifer pairs the dish with her fav Maduros (sweet plantain), and a small side of their tangy cabbage slaw.

La Fritaguera
1819 Colfax Street, Concord, California 94520
(925) 446-6141

Yara Elian is a Senior at Northgate High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, who loves languages, cultures, food, and writing.

La Vaquera

La Vaquera

La Vaquera translates to “The Cowgirl”, an apt name for the vibrant little restaurant nestled in Southwest Little Rock.
The restaurant location was opened by husband and wife dream team Miguel and Sanjuana Torres in 2017.

La Vaquera

Meet the Owners

Miguel and Sanjuana both hail from San Luis Potosi in Central Mexico. They met and struck up a friendship at the age of eight, and little did they know then how important their connection would be all these years later.

Miguel left San Luis Potosi to move here to the United States when he was only thirteen years old. Coming from a big family, Miguel immigrated to the US in order to find his own path and his own place in the world. He traveled to Arkansas with an older sister, but within a few months he struck out on his own. Finding his way to Indianapolis, Miguel searched high and low for a business willing to employ someone as young as him. Fortunately, Miguel found a job with a Chinese restaurant. From then on, he has worked solidly in the restaurant industry. He has lived all over the United States, including Boston, Memphis, and Dallas, but he ended up returning to Arkansas to be with his older sister. He learned quickly that nothing is as important as family.

Miguel traveled back and forth to visit home frequently. It was on these visits that he reconnected with Sanjuana, and it didn’t take long for the sparks to fly. They were teenage sweethearts and eventually married, starting their own family in 1992. It took Sanjuana a little more convincing to settle down in Arkansas, however. She was studying to teach Pre-school and wasn’t quite as sure that her future was in the United States. After some time though, she decided to move to Arkansas and have all her family together. She officially made the move in 1999. Once here, she too found herself working in a Chinese restaurant.

Miguel and Sanjuana decided to open up a convenience store and sell groceries and produce in the Southwest Little Rock community. They both enjoyed working for themselves and being their own bosses. When the market crash happened in 2008, they began losing business to Walmart and needed to find a way to supplement their income. They kept their eyes and minds open to business opportunities wherever they went and they came along a taco food truck that was for sale. It was called La Vaquera. This was the beginning of their big restaurant adventure - their origin story. The truck was so well received that the Torres family was able to open a restaurant location in 2017. By this time their family had grown to include five children, all of whom help out regularly around the restaurant.

La Vaquera
La Vaquera
La Vaquera

La Vaquera is an authentic, family run place. In fact, Miguel and Sanjuana are the only chefs! They have an employee who helps run the front of the restaurant and works with the customers. The recipes on the menu all come straight from Sanjuana and her mother’s own recipe book and everything is tested thoroughly by the Torres kids before being approved for the menu.

The Food

When asked what their favorite menu items were, they had a tough time picking. Ultimately, Miguel has a fondness for the Steak Tacos and Sanjuana has a soft spot for their Steak Quesadilla. Their oldest son, Miguel, favors the Enchiladas Potosinas – which can’t be found on the menu, but can be specially requested. These special enchiladas are set apart by the made-to-order guacamole that coats the inside. In addition to the fresh guacamole, they can be stuffed with either grilled steak or chicken.

La Vaquera
La Vaquera
La Vaquera

I have a personal weakness for enchiladas, so I decided to try the Cheese Enchiladas and washed it all down with Horchata made from scratch. Fortunately, I went with a large group, so we were able to sample many fine dishes. La Vaquera has real bragging rights when it comes to their house-made enchilada sauce – it’s delicious. It has such body and bold flavor that it truly makes the dish. The horchata was delightfully refreshing with the perfect dosing of cinnamon.

La Vaquera

The Milanesa de Pollo was a perfectly seasoned and crispy piece of juicy, tender chicken breast.

La Vaquera

A Little Rock favorite is the Taco Salad. It is a beloved classic of the people in Arkansas, and the version cooked up by La Vaquera doesn’t disappoint. It comes in a wonderfully crisp shell and is stuffed with flavorful meat and veggies.

All around the table I only heard positive reviews (and many sighs of satisfaction) about everything tried.  The Gorditas came in hand-patted corn pockets that struck the perfect balance of flavor and thickness.  The beef stood out as a particularly succulent stuffing for this hand-sized pocket of goodness.

The Bistek a la Mexicana is a spicy, flavorful dish that isn’t for individuals who can’t take the heat. If you like some fire though, this is the meal for you. It’s tender steak is seasoned to perfection – it’s the real deal.

La Vaquera

The Tacos Supremos are a colorful and fresh fiesta on a plate. They taste as good as they look too!

La Vaquera

The food is truly delicious, fresh, and authentic. What really makes La Vaquera stand out though is the special story of a dedicated and loving family that came to the United States to seek opportunity. I asked Miguel and Sanjuana what their experience in the US had been like. Sanjuana simply said it had been “beautiful” with a content smile. Miguel replied that he has lived a full life here in the United States. He’s gone through it all, the good and the bad. He’s had hard times, but he has had many happy times as well.

They are happy to be here in the United States, and they are happy to be raising their children here. As parents they want nothing more than for their children to be happy, explore, do well in life, and have the chance to do things that they themselves were not able to. Miguel and Sanjuana embody the spirit of most immigrants to the US. They work hard – and frequently. Their restaurant is open 10AM – 9PM Monday and Wednesday – Saturday and 9AM - 9PM on Sundays. They believe wholeheartedly in chasing after dreams and relentlessly pursuing a better life. Miguel believes that anyone can accomplish anything they want if they are willing to work hard for it. He knows it can be hard sometimes, he has experienced it for himself, but he believes “where there is a will, there’s a way.”

I heartily recommend dining at La Vaquera. Come, eat, talk, and have another beer!

La Vaquera
10308 Chicot Rd., Little Rock, AR 72209
(501) 565 – 3108
Delivery available through Postmates

Sunday: 9AM – 9 PM
Monday: 10AM – 9PM
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday - Saturday: 10AM – 9PM

About the Author:


I love food and I love getting to know new people. I have always found that everyone has an interesting story, and absolutely nothing beats sharing stories over delicious food. It is my goal in life to meet as many good people and eat as much good food as possible.

A Taste of Havana

A Taste of Havana

A Taste of Havana in Indianapolis

Unfortunately this restaurant has closed but we encourage you to read their story.  

Traditional Cuban music, a tropical vibe and the aroma of authentic eats greets diners at the door as they enter Taste of Havana. The eatery, located in Indianapolis’ lively Broad Ripple neighborhood, has been serving up Cuban cuisine since 2013, specializing in Cuban sandwiches, pastelitos and coffee.

A Taste of Havana

Humble Beginnings

It was family that inspired Taste of Havana’s owner Jorge Chalgub to become an entrepreneur.

Chalgub grew up in Cuba but moved to Miami at the age of 14. When his youngest daughter was preparing to start elementary school, he decided he wanted her to grow up in a safer city.

“I use to travel for work and stop in Indianapolis, and I liked the city,” said Chalgub. “When we moved here it was one of the lowest crime cities in the United States, it was a no brainer.”

When his daughter completed her second year of college and was in the process of figuring out her career goals, Chalgub, who managed food for Miami International Airport before moving to Indianapolis, wanted to expose her to the restaurant business.

“We opened it up. It started really small, just half of the space we have today. We didn’t have a lot of capital, and I figured if it works we could keep growing,” said Chalgub.

A Taste of Havana

His gamble paid off. Taste of Havana has rave review on both Google and Yelp and attracts a diverse mix of clientele in an area known for quirky shops, bars and entertainment venues.

“I like to think we are very original,” said Chalgub. “This is not a cheap Cuban meal, it’s old school, the way it was when I was a teenager.”

Eclectic Eats

Taste of Havana manages to stay affordable without sacrificing quality. Cuban sandwiches start at $7.50 and include ham, turkey, and vegetarian options. Chalgub says the most popular menu item is the pork.

A Taste of Havana

“Pork is all about the seasoning, and one of the reasons our pork is popular is because it is extremely tender.” said Chalgub.
While at Taste of Havana, I had the opportunity to try their fall-off-the-bone pork, as well as one of three Cuban lunch bowls.

A Taste of Havana

I selected the Pollo En Plancha, which consisted of grilled chicken marinated in lime juice, seasoned with pepper and garlic and served with white rice and black beans. I also has the opportunity to try Cafe Con Leche, a bold and rich Cuban coffee made with steamed milk and espresso shots. Not only was the food flavorful, but the prices were reasonable and the environment was friendly.

Leaving a Legacy

Through his restaurant and the relationships he has built in its surrounding community, Chalgub hopes to educate Hoosiers about Cuban culture. Decorations on the walls map the seven provinces of Cuba, and the radio plays a steady mix of Cuban music.

A Taste of Havana

“It’s mambo, cha cha cha, and everybody loves salsa, but salsa back in the day was about enjoying the music. We have Afro-fcuban, some of the country music, and boogaloo,” said Chalgub. “I want people to feel like they are not in Indiana anymore when they come in here, especially in the winter. I want something bright, loud and proud.”

To Chalgub, operating Taste of Havana is his way of honoring his family name while educating the community about his culture.

“Not everybody has the same dream, and I know profit is very important, but in my case it’s all about my name, my reputation, my quality,” said Chalgub. “People need to know that Cuba is a a beautiful, gorgeous island with great people in it … It’s a tropical paradise with upbeat, very happy people.”

A Taste of Havana

Taste of Havana

815 Broad Ripple Ave,
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Tel: (317) 559-4369

Keshia McEntire is an Indianapolis based journalist. She loves covering the arts and the humanities, and has a soft spot for activism and youth issues. She enjoys stories that make people do a double take or rethink preconceived notions.

Check out her website here.

Cazadores Restaurante Mexicano  


The Location

The first thing I noticed when walking into Cazadores Mexican restaurant was the brightly colored walls. They resembled the vibrant and lively streets of Mexico. The restaurant itself is conveniently located, tucked on the right side of the road in a slightly rural area lined with greenery.

Easily accessible with a car, it boasts a peaceful tranquility from hectic city life; but is only a five minute drive away from Tyngsboro town in Massachusetts, where activities such as the cinema and mall are located.

 Cazadores Mexican Restaurant

Mexican Cuisine

I was especially intrigued when hearing that the owners themselves were not from Mexico, but rather another South American country, Colombia. Hispanic culture is similar on the surface, although historical traditions differ. Countries residing in the continent are characterized by welcoming, family-oriented natives, warm tropical weather, lively music, and delicious food. Mexico is no exception. The cuisine from this region is fresh, delicious, vibrant, and spicy. Mexican food has become a staple of Western cuisine, and with good reason.

 Cazadores Mexican Restaurant

Dishes are distinguished by and many include a staple of meat (mostly chicken, beef, or pork), cheese, maize (the shell), beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno, and various spices and herbs. The country’s most widely known dishes include tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and tortillas. These are often offered with the option of flour or corn tortillas. The gluten-intolerant need not worry!

Inside the Restaurant

This family restaurant has traditional paintings on the walls, giving a good idea of Mexican culture. Not too big or small in size, the first floor consisted of the dining area, with finely crafted wooden tables and chairs. The stairs lead to a dimly lit, furnished, and pleasantly decorated basement area. This was the bar, lined with bar stools and booths, serving the finest drinks originating from Mexico.

Inside Cazadores Mexican restaurant
The bar at Cazadores

My Order

I ordered the “Tour de Mexico” made for two.  It came with six tacos of varying meats - steak, chicken, and shrimp. Two chimichangas - beef and chicken, and two tamales. Delicious yellow rice that had seasoned green beans, carrots, and peas served alongside creamy beans were the perfect starter for this traditional meal. The plate was lined with guacamole, sour cream,  lettuce, and tomato, most likely for the tacos and chimichangas that were to come. I noted the flavors of the rice and beans complimented each other very well. Everything so far was just the right amount of spicy, not too much or too little. (I do not do well with spicy food.)


Next came the rest of the main entree, plated aesthetically. The tacos, chimichangas, and tamales came with 3 dipping sauces. When I asked, the server informed me they were tomatillo, mango habanero, and plain habanero.  My companion made the mistake of dipping one of his tacos in the habanero a little too much, prompting him to need water. Note: A little goes a long way with those pepper hot sauces.

Overall, the food was served on time and was absolutely delicious. As mentioned, I am not one that eats spicy food too often, but the Mexican cuisine at Cazadores was the perfect amount of savory and spicy. The flavors were balanced extremely well, and the food perfectly seasoned. The tacos were light, with a doughy tortilla, and the chicken was chewy and zesty. Coupled with the guacamole, tomato, and lettuce the tacos and chimichangas were a delightful take on Mexican food. The tamales were smooth and cheesy.

The Family Behind the Magic

The Millan family had been dreaming of opening a restaurant for a long time. (Pictured above) Monica Arango-Millan, 35, Heidy Arango-Millan, 33, Luz Millan, 55, Brian Millan-Finnerty, 19, Jose Arango-Millan, 30.

Luz Millan came to the land of opportunity in 1995 - leaving behind her family in Colombia. From Nashua, New Hampshire, she would send money back to support her family. She worked and made enough money until she could afford to bring her children to the United States in 1997. “It was challenging, a very hard time not only for me, but for them,” Luz recalls, “We paid the price to be here.” Assimilating to a new culture is never an easy task, and Luz had to learn a new language, and at times worked three jobs.


Cazadores Mexican restaurant is fairly new and opened to the public on November 19th, 2017. The family goes back to Colombia periodically and whenever they come back, they are grateful to be in a land where they can make a living off of sharing the delicious food of their Hispanic heritage. Despite being Colombian, Luz wanted to keep the restaurant as authentically Mexican as possible. One of the chefs she hired knows his grandmother’s Mexican recipes by heart. In the early stages, furniture from Mexico was imported, and a large, beautiful mural was painted on a dining room wall (pictured above). Each family member has their own role, putting together what Luz calls “a great team” that is stronger when they are together.




Cazadores Restaurante Mexicano
130 Middlesex Rd
Tyngsboro, Massachusetts
(978) 226-5702

Tania is a 20 year old university student. She considers herself a dreamer, believer, and animal lover. She has an affinity for travel, and believes you can learn more from immersing yourself in different cultures than you can from anything else. She embraces diversity, and feels that food is the best means of cultural expression.

Salvadoreño Restaurant

Karlos Ramirez‘s parents had to flee their native El Salvador due to the horrific violence from the country’s 12-year civil war. Miriam and Alfredo knew that the only way to achieve a safer and better quality of life for their family was to come to the United States. In the late 70’s, Alfredo was the first to make it out of the country to California, leaving his wife and two children behind. It was not until four years later that Miriam was able to follow him, making the heart-wrenching decision to leave her kids behind with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. After two long years of separation, they were finally able to bring their daughter, Yesenia, and son, Karlos, to the U.S. as well. It was while living in California that their youngest son, Joel was born.

The Ramirez family has always been hard-working and entrepreneurial. In California, Miriam and Alfredo had a well-settled life working for Shaklee supplements, but after they moved to the Phoenix area in 2002, Miriam decided to go all-out and open a restaurant. After years of receiving compliments for her pupusas—a popular Salvadoran food—she wanted to bring the traditional food of El Salvador to the Phoenix area, opening her first restaurant in Mesa, Arizona.

The Mesa, Arizona Location

Salvadoreño restaurant

When you first approach the restaurant, it is tucked into the corner of a strip mall, not far off the freeway. Something that was new to me when we moved to Arizona was that really excellent restaurants could be found in strip malls! You can’t miss its bright red sign, and the sign on the front window calls out some of the traditional Salvadoran food they offer.

It is a casual, unassuming atmosphere, with about ten tables. Great for couples, families, or even to grab a quick lunch to go. You’ll find the service is friendly and quick.

Authentic Salvadoran Food

Open at 10:00am everyday, they serve a variety of traditional Salvadoran breakfast dishes, like Chorizo Salvadoreño con Huevos Revueltos. Even though the names may sound familiar to some of the dishes you may have eaten at your local Mexican restaurant, don’t be fooled! Salvadoran food has its own unique flavors and ingredients that will delight and surprise you.

All breakfast dishes are served with two handmade corn tortillas; but again, don’t think Mexican tortillas. These tortillas are thicker and softer—delicious.

As I spoke with Karlos, he introduced me to pupusas. “The pupusas are definitely the most popular thing we have,” he explained. “We have meat ones, veggie ones…the top two that we sell are revuelta, or ‘mixed,’ and it has pork, cheese, and beans mixed together, and the other one is loroco, an edible flower from El Salvador.”

Salvadoran food - pupusas

Loroco isn’t grown in the United States and has to be imported.  It tastes similar to artichoke. The pupusas are served hot with a mild salsa and a slaw called “curtido” as an accompaniment. The pupusas are meant to eaten with your hands, but I got away with using a fork, too. They are delicious and filling! I could only get through about half of each of them and had to take the rest home to enjoy later. They look simple, but Karlos tells me they require a specific technique: “Quite frankly, if your mom and grandma didn’t teach you how to make pupusas, you don’t know how to do them.” Making hundreds a day requires chefs with skill and experience. “We do have chefs and cooks from other countries, but they’ve probably gone through fire to even still be here. It’s not easy.”

Kitchen in Salvadoran food restaurant

For lunch, you can’t go wrong with their Combinación Salvadoreña, which is technically on their appetizer menu, but if you aren’t familiar with Salvadoran food, it’s a nice sampling to become familiar with typical flavors and ingredients. I took mine “to go” so my husband and I could enjoy it later for dinner. The combination plate more than filled both of us, and we still had leftovers, so be sure to enjoy it with friends!

Salvadoran food

It comes with two empanadas (one with meat and vegetables and one with potatoes and cheese), a tamale, savory fried pork pieces, yucca, plantain chips, and an empanada dessert filled with a slightly sweet custard cream.

Another first for me was their horchata. Again, different from Mexican horchata, Salvadorean horchata does not contain milk. It’s made with morro, rice and cinnamon, which are roasted together and then finely ground and then mixed with water and sugar. It looks like coffee with a lot of cream in it, but tastes like nothing I’ve had before—vaguely like licorice, but you just have to taste it for yourself.

Salvadoran food in general is not spicy and with unique ingredients like loroco, yucca, and chipilin (a leguminous plant originally from Central America), you will be delighted by new flavors. Savadoreño focuses on serving homestyle cooking with recipes that have been in the Ramirez family for years. Everything is made fresh, right when you order it. With the wide selection of meat, seafood, soups, and vegetarian dishes, there is something for everyone. Their ceviche was voted one of the top 50 dishes in the Valley by Phoenix Magazine—definitely on my list to try next time.

A Family Affair

Miriam and Alfred started with the Mesa location, but have since added four other locations. Karlos runs the Mesa location, his sister, Yesenia, runs the North Phoenix location, an uncle runs their Riverside, California location, and brother Joel runs their food truck, Zpotes. Miriam and Alfred sometimes speak of retiring, but as of today, you’ll find them running the El Salvadoreño location in West Phoenix at N. 75th Avenue and W. Thomas.

The Mesa location delivers, both via phone and through food delivery apps. Also, consider bringing something new to your next event by using Salvadoreño for your catering needs.



Salvadoreño Restaurant
303 E Southern Ave Ste 113, Mesa, AZ 85210
Phone:(480) 835-1038

Other Locations:

330 S Gilbert Rd Ste 20 Mesa, AZ 85204: Phone:(480) 964-5577

7333 W Thomas Rd Ste 88 Phoenix, AZ 85033: Phone:(623) 846-6100

8911 N Central Ave Ste 101 Phoenix, AZ 85020: Phone: (602) 870-2955

4650 La Sierra Ave, Riverside, CA 92505, USA: Phone: (951) 343-7285

Dana Keller is a writer, facilitator and travel agent located in Phoenix, Arizona.  She is passionate about food, travel, education, and refugees. She is also an ardent believer that we shouldn’t stop playing just because we grow up!  You can learn more at and