If their only goal was to create the best Mexican restaurant in Ewing, Ricardo, Viridiana and Eugenia Ramos wouldn’t have had to try very hard — there are Mexican places in Lambertville and Chambersburg, but nothing in between. Until Ricardo, his wife Viridiana and his mother Eugenia opened the Mariachi Mexican Grill, Ewing was a dead zone for Mexican food (except Taco Bell.)
In this void, Ricardo, a Ewing resident, saw an opportunity. He kept his day job at Opinion Research in Princeton, and opened a new restaurant on Parkway Avenue with the help of Viridiana and Eugenia. Viridiana previously worked as a real estate agent and an assistant to a lawyer. Eugenia lived in Arizona, where she ran a catering company. Moving to Ewing enabled her to help run a restaurant, which is a bigger job than catering.
“In Arizona, I was alone, and here, we are all there,” she said. “We’re a team, so we can make more.”
All three hail from Saltillo, a small city in northern Mexico. The food served at Mariachi comes from a tradition of cooking on both sides of the family, going back several generations. The traditional Mexican fare has been modified to be less hot, to suit the American palate, but hot sauce is always available.
Ricardo said carne asada is one of the Mariachi’s specialties, along with desserts like tres leches, which are made from scratch every day. They also make salsa and guacamole fresh every day, using ingredients from the Trenton Farmers Market.
If you’re expecting total consistency, the Mariachi Grill is the wrong restaurant to go to. Every batch of peppers is different, so the salsa will taste a little bit different every time.
A full meal, with a drink and sides, runs about $7.
Although Ricardo initially envisioned aiming for the college crowd, he’s had so many customers from nearby workplaces that there has been no time to market to anyone else.
The restaurant is decorated with red walls, sombreros, and artwork made by Viridiana, who is a painter.
Viridiana said opening the restaurant was a risk, but it’s been a risk that has paid off for the Ramos family.
Ricardo said it’s been so successful that he plans to expand to two more locations in the near future.
Running the restaurant is tiring but rewarding for first-time restaurant owners Ricardo and Viridiana
“There are people who come here three times a week,” Viridiana said. “We feel very happy about all the compliments we get. They say, ‘hey, we love your food.’ Sometimes we close at 10 o’clock on Saturdays. You get exhausted, but that’s what keeps you going is how people react.”
Ricardo said his goal was to integrate the restaurant with the community by continuing to buy from local suppliers and to provide delicous food.
“We’re bringing flavor to the community,” he said.
Mexican Mariachi Grill, 1505 Parkway Ave., is open Mondays through Fridays 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, go online to mexicanmariachigrill.com or call (609) 882-0119.