Even if you aren’t hungry for Mexican food today, you might be tamale. Guadalupe’s, a Mexican restaurant, opens in the Milbank Mall in August and plans to be fully operational by September 1.
Guadalupe’s owners, Esther and Jeorgino Ramirez and family, will serve authentic Mexican cuisine. “We call it Mexican town food – everything is fresh and homemade,” Jeorge explained, “We are trying to bring our culture from Mexico to town with authentic Mexican food.” Esther loves to cook pork with red or green chilies, chicken with red chilies, tamales, sweet bread, and homemade tortillas. “Our daughter, Yulissa, helps make the tortillas,” Esther said.
Esther also prefers to use fresh tamarind cut from the trees in Mexico. She was raised in a little village in the mountains south of Mexico City. Her mother still lives there and ships the fresh tamarind to Esther in Milbank.
Although Esther and Jeorge will own the restaurant, Guadalupe’s is the brainchild of Doug Buri and Arvid Liebe. “Arvid and I had the resources to help her get started more quickly,” explained Doug. Doug and his wife, Linda, caught wind of Esther’s cooking and began conversations with the family. “We love Mexican food and wanted a place to eat here in the mall,” Doug said. “Now everyone is in for a real treat. Esther is a fabulous cook – her food is fantastic!”
Each day, Esther will serve two flavors of aguas frescas, which is Spanish for fresh waters. “The drink is popular in Mexico and is also homemade. It does not come from a box or powder,” Doug said. He and Arvid volunteered to be tasters and raved about the drinks. “There’s pineapple made from fresh fruit, cucumber, rice, and more. They are all phenomenal.” Esther will also serve American favorites: egg and chicken salad, wraps, barbecues, soups, mashed potatoes, french fries, and burgers.
Although Esther is an accomplished cook now, she did not begin cooking until she was married at the age of 17. “Before that, I didn’t know anything about cooking. I grew up with seven sisters and one brother. They were all older so they cooked for everybody.” According to Esther, she learned her culinary skills from her mother-in-law. “She showed me how to make everything.”
Guadalupe’s will open its doors before the sun comes up to accommodate dairy workers, ranchers, and Valley Queen employees, who start their days early. Breakfast begins at 5 a.m. weekdays and at 7 a.m. on Saturdays. Choices will include: eggs, hash browns, toast, pancakes, bacon, sausage, and omelets. “We will serve the omelets– spicy or not,” said Esther.
The Ramirez family has lived in Milbank for six years. Prior to that, they resided in North Carolina where Jeorge worked in construction and Esther managed a restaurant that served American food. “That is where I learned to cook American,” she said.
Jeorge explained that in 2009 and 2010, construction work slowed down and he was forced to search for other employment. “I had friends here that said we should come to South Dakota where I could do farm work.” The family discovered they enjoyed the small-town life where things are nice and quiet. “That is why we stay here.”
Esther and Jeorge have three children – Jorge who is 19 and attends college in California, Yulissa who is 14, and Jose, age four. Her family kept her busy, but she also began cooking in her kitchen for the Latino employees of Valley Queen Cheese. “Those people are very important to me. I started cooking here for them. They didn’t have a place to eat or someone to cook for them, so I did. Now they are excited for me to start this restaurant.”