La Mexicanada has been a hallmark of downtown Bradford for many years, drawing in customers from all over the Greater Toronto Area.
In November 2017 husband and wife Edson and Debra Nava took over La Mexicanada after it closed its doors just a month earlier. With only a month to remodel the restaurant, the Navas and their team got to work to bring a piece of Mexico to Bradford.
Their vision came to life after getting the feeling that something was missing from the restaurant landscape in Bradford.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Edson moved to Cancun when he was 19-years-old. One of the reasons he wanted to revamp the restaurant was to show people the real flavours of his home country.
After acquiring the business, on Holland Street West, the couple developed a brand new menu for the restaurant.
Now, La Mexicanada is seeing a higher volume of customers than it did when it first opened, welcoming guests from Bradford and beyond. On average, they see about 700 people on their busiest days between Friday and Saturday. Now, with many food delivery services, they are seeing a rising number of takeout orders as well.
La Mexicanada also hosts parties for special events.
“We have a wedding coming up for 40 people, and we plan everything the proper way," said Edson.
To Edson, family is everything. With a young daughter, Nava says he wants to leave a legacy and inspire her to one day take over the family business.
What he loves most about his work is seeing people happy and enjoying the food, drinks, and atmosphere.
“It makes me happy that I'm doing the right thing, and that helps me to keep going and keep coming up with more ideas," Edson says. "I've always loved to interact with people, talk to people, and meet people.”
He says that when they have a busy night at the restaurant, he loves to make friends and talk to the guests.
Edson loves to hear feedback from customers and feels a strong sense of pride running the restaurant.
But the Navas can’t do it on their own. At La Mexicanada there are currently 22 employees, a team the Navas say they are thankful to have.
“They are hard-working people, without them, La Mexicanada wouldn't be what it is right now," Edson says. “I have a, really, really strong and solid team behind me.”
He strives to make his restaurant environment comfortable for everyone.
“They've been with us for years because the atmosphere is super nice and easy-going,” he says. “They feel like family.”
“Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming in the kitchen dealing with many people,” Edson says about the work. “ These guys work super hard and they always managed to do it. And I always say thank you.”
The experience the staff brings to the table at La Mexicanada has customers saying they feel like they are in Mexico when dining in.
“I love it, this is the reason why I wake up, go in there and try to make the restaurant feel even more like Mexico,” Edson says. “A lot of people tell us ‘I was in Cancun and this makes me feel like I'm there,’ and that makes me so happy.”
One of the big draws to the restaurant is the live music.
“Coming from Cancun you hear happy music – Music to make you dance and have a drink – That's what I went for,” Edson says when curating the atmosphere.
The live band takes requests and can play any song with a Latin flair. Now, live entertainment can be enjoyed throughout the week, featuring a mariachi band on Tuesdays, a Salsa band on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and two different Latin bands on the weekends.
The menu caters to a variety of different tastes but one of the crowd favourites is the Molcajetes – a dish served in a volcano stone.
“We offer a mar y tierra (surf and turf), meat-only, and seafood one options," he says. “Definitely something we are proud of!”
The dish is considered a rarity.
“You couldn't find them [Molcajetes] anywhere,” Edson says. I couldn't find anything like it, that's why my wife and I decided to start showing people more dishes – They are very popular in Mexico," he says.
Getting visitors from many all over the area, such as Mississauga, Vaughan, and Brampton, the Navas are considering to one day open a second location in in a different town in the future.
The Navas have travelled almost everywhere in Mexico and explored many different dishes, decor and styles to draw inspiration for their restaurant.
“We bring a few different places from Mexico to Bradford,” Edson says.
The Navas say they have a lot of ideas that they are bringing to fruition this summer, and are looking forward to surprising their customers from far and wide!
To learn more about La Mexicanada, or book a reservation, visit their website here.