Mi Gente Taqueria opens Monday in Destin
It may still look like the buffet building on the outside, but one foot in the door will tell a different tale.
Mi Gente Tacqueria and Supermarket has moved into the Ole Time Country Buffet building on U.S. Highway 98 in the heart of Destin and will be celebrating their grand opening at 5 p.m. Monday.
"We redid the whole building ... totally,“ said Herman Marquezs, who co-owns Mi Gente with Christian Cubias.
Instead of it being one big buffet restaurant, it’s now a supermarket, meat market, produce market, restaurant and cantina all under one roof.
Mi Gente has been in Fort Walton Beach for the past 16 years. Marquezs said they have been looking to come to Destin for the last two or three years.
“We looked at many many buildings. We’re very fortunate we got this one and we’re very excited,” Marquezs said.
The place in Fort Walton Beach, located on Beal Parkway, is 5,000 square feet and the building in Destin is 10,000 square feet.
“It’s the same concept ... now we double it,” he said.
When folks walk in the front door, to the left is a fully stocked grocery store with products from Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Honduras and Brazil.
Also on that left side is a produce area and a meat market complete with a butcher who will be ready to cut up your meat.
“The nice thing about this building ... you’re going to be able to order fresh meats from the butcher and if you wish you can come through the grill section and then we grill it for you,” Marquezs said.
On the supermarket side, Marquezs said, a lot of people look for their specialty recipes for things such as tamales and other items.
“We have all the spices ... we have it all,” he said from green bananas to corn husk.
“Here you find it one stop,” he said, not to mention the cantina and restaurant to the right of the front entrance.
The restaurant Taqueria is order off the menu with more than 30 items to choose from. They have Mexican sandwiches, grilled chicken, burritos, and quesadillas just to name a few.
But the specialty is tacos. “Tacos is major,” he said.
As a matter of fact, their slogan for the business is “My head says gym but my heart says tacos.”
Folks can order to go or eat at the restaurant. There is also a salsa bar as well as a party room for the bigger groups.
The restaurant is set up for 200 people but for now during the COVID-19 they will be seating 100.
Why even open a new business during the pandemic?
"You’ve got to be crazy right?“ Marquezs laughed. “We just got to pray for it and we’re all going to beat it and be fine. Take precautions and like I tell everybody, keep your distance and wear a mas.”
Following Monday’s grand opening, Mi Gente will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
In about three weeks they are looking at opening for a sit down breakfast from 6:30 a.m. until 11.
So if you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, Mi Gente’s is it.
“It’s straight-up Mexican food,” Marquezs said.