HISTORY AND PHOTOS OF LARRY L. KUBERT FOR L MAGAZINE
The name of a restaurant can be something a little obtuse or appropriate and descriptive. For a small, ethnic restaurant in the Northern Lights neighborhood of Lincoln, the latter option is straightforward and straightforward.
Mi Mexico Lindo Family Mexican Restaurant is a perfect descriptor. The restaurant serves Mexican dishes made from family recipes, the family is reflected in the atmosphere and attitude of its staff and owners, and Mi Mexico Lindo (which translates to My Beautiful Mexico) shows pride and affection for the owner’s native country.
Julio and Claudia Freeman opened Mi Mexico Lindo in September 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant staff is largely made up of family members – son Julio Junior, daughters Julissa and Kaylee, and Julissa’s husband Marco Ramirez.
Julio and Claudia have been in the restaurant business for years and love to help. Julio says the family had friends over for dinner and the friends were urging them to open their own restaurant.
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The family thought about it and began exploring possible sites in northeast Lincoln. There was a vacancy in the mall where Mi Mexico is currently located, but things didn’t work out. A few weeks later, Julio was contacted by the establishment’s management about a space in the same mall being vacated by a Middle Eastern restaurant.
The family moved quickly with everyone and within months Mi Mexico opened with Julio as chef, Marco as chef, Claudia as bartender and Junior, Julissa and Kaylee as service customer. “But everyone helps where it’s needed,” according to Junior.
The restaurant space also featured a drive-through window – a major factor in the family’s decision to take the space. “This drive-thru saved us during the pandemic shutdown,” Junior said.
Julio and Junior recall that the first week or so the restaurant was open and the 50% capacity rule was in effect. They had customers lined up from their front door almost to the HyVee gas station (just under a block away) waiting to get in. “Sometimes in the first two weeks we would run out of rice or beans or something because we were so busy,” Marco admitted.
Today, with a year and a half of experience, the staff is much better prepared to meet the wishes of its customers.
One thing Julio and Junior want to address is that all of their dishes are prepared fresh – no heat lamps, no ready meals to reheat. Mi Mexico Lindo’s dishes are not fast food. Junior suggests customers who want to use the drive-thru call 10 to 15 minutes early to place an order so it’s ready when the customer picks it up.
The restaurant’s menu contains an impressive number of dining options, many of which, according to Julio, come from the family recipes of his grandmothers and mother, as well as his own.
There are 12 entrees listed ranging from $4.95 to $14.95, and six soup and salad options at $4.95 to $10.95. Three vegetarian choices include Veggie Fajitas, Veggie Enchiladas, and Veggie Burrito ($9.95 to $11.95). There are four $8.95 Huevos options – huevos con chorizo, papas, rancheros, and Mexicanos.
For enchiladas, diners have seven choices: verdes, mole, colorado, sunrise, blancas, chipotle and las mexicanos ($10.45 to $11.95). There are 15 burrito choices ranging from beans or beef ($7.45/$8.25) to Dos Mexicanos (a Colorado and a chili verde, $10.95), Chimichanga Blanca (fried burrito with white sauce and choice of shredded chicken, shredded or ground beef, $11.95), and Grilled Carne Asada (steak, onions, refried beans, rice, sauce, sour cream, guacamole and cheese, $13.95).
There are four categories of house specialties: chicken, beef, pork and Mexican. The chicken category offers nine choices at $14.95 each and includes Chicken en Mole and Pollo a la Diabla (spicy red sauce with mushrooms, onions and chicken strips). Carne Asada (grilled skirt steak, fried onions, fried jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream, rice and beans, $17.95) and Tacos al Carbon (three red adobe corn tortillas with grilled skirt steak, $15.95 ) highlight the seven specialties of the beef house.
There are four house pork specialties – Pork Chili Verde ($12.95) and Tacos al Pastor, Pork Fajitas and Pork Asado, each at $14.95. Mexican House Specials number eight and range from Cielo Mar y Tierra (shrimp, chicken, steak with sautéed onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and salsa del pato, $15.95) to Cena Mexicano, (carne asada, enchilada, chimichanga, rice, beans, onion and jalapeno fries, $21.95) and El Mexicano (shrimp, carne asada, pollo adobado, rice, beans, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, $29.95).
If there’s a seafood craving, there are 15 menu options, from shrimp tacos ($15.95) to shrimp ceviche (marinated shrimp in lime, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and avocado, 15 $.95), Pescado Frito (fried tilapia with rice, salad and avocado, $16.95) or Molcajete Seafood (shrimp, octopus, scallops and Californian vegetables in spicy sauce, $24.95).
According to Julissa and Junior, customer favorites are the Burrito Blanco (special cheese sauce with choice of shredded chicken, ground beef or shredded beef, $11.95), grilled Carne Asada burrito ($13.95) and the Carne Asada Beef House Special ($17.95).
In addition, 17 lunch specials are offered daily.
Mi Mexico Lindo staff members take pride in the bar choices available. In addition to imported and local beers, wine, spirits and cocktails, they offer 14 margarita drinks culminating in Freeman’s (a Freeman’s specialty made without the mix and featuring Hornitos, Triple Sec and “something special”). ‘other “).
Mi Mexico Lindo’s clientele range includes a bit of everything. According to Julio, lunches find customers who are local workers and professionals, while dinner can be everyone from families to business people to regulars who come a few times a week or more.
“When we first opened, most of our customers were from the east side of town,” Julio said. “Now we have added people from the south and from everywhere. There are also those customers who come for drinks and aperitifs and then leave.
For Julio, Claudia, Julissa and Junior, Mi Mexico Lindo is more than food. It’s about family, serving others, connecting with customers, and customers becoming friends. All around a satisfying meal.
“Customers also connect with other customers,” Julio said. “They share memories with each other, the other guests and with us. Family.”
For the staff at Mi Mexico Lindo, it’s not like a job… It’s wanting people to have a good experience and come back.
“We want our customers to know that we care and that there’s a big smile behind those masks,” Junior concluded.