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Maggie's Kitchen: A spicy bang for your buck

The chicken platter is one of the dishes served at Maggie's Kitchen.

The chicken platter is one of the dishes served at Maggie's Kitchen. /Steven Depolo

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This article was written and edited by Leah Beach, Melissa Thomas, Stephanie Powers, Andy Soentgen, and Laura Bettinghouse for EN 101-1300 at GRCC.

On Saturdays, a seemingly endless line stretches from Maggie’s Kitchen down Bridge Street. Named after Magdalena Garcia, chef and owner, Maggie’s Kitchen is one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants in town.

Maggie opened the business with her husband, Eustacio, who is also a chef.  It started out as a small grocery supply business, but soon developed into Maggie’s. This traditional restaurant was on fire, and they found themselves working full time in the steamy kitchen to fill the eager demands of the people wanting their unique, fresh, Mexican food.  “I just love cooking,” she explains, describing her kitchen philosophy in a few words. “My mother taught me: ‘Everything fresh.’”  

All this demand from the customers soon forced them to open a new small expansion called Maggie's Kitchen. This restaurant is small with roughly fifteen tables, which never appear to be empty.  While eating this ever flavorful food the customers are merrily entertained with a jukebox that gives Americans a taste of real Mexican music, mixed with their real Mexican food.  Maggie’s Kitchen is a self-serve restaurant, where you stand in line to order and wait for your food, then you pay and take your seat. The customers there are usually even courteous enough to bus their own table after they leave.

Eustacio and Maggie felt the need to open this restaurant so that Rapidians could experience genuine Mexican recipes and authentic dishes.  Loyal customers wait sometimes hours in line on to spend a Saturday afternoon filling up on the different types of delicious food that Maggie carefully prepares for them.  One customer, a Maggie’s regular named John, claims that Maggie’s Kitchen is “Home to west-siders for Saturday morning breakfast.”

If you visit Maggie’s for breakfast, consider the Huevos Rancheros, two sunny side-up eggs on a fried corn tortilla with ranchero sauce. For dinner, consider Huevos Corn Chorizo Y Papas, two eggs scrambled with potatoes and chorizo.  Maggie’s also sells tacos, burritos, tortas and platillos.  After eating, one eager customer exclaimed, “...the Tostadas and flour tacos were cooked perfectly, had full flavor, and they did not skimp on the ingredients.  The green and red salsas were right on.... far away from Pace or any other typical Americanized salsa mass-produced acidic chemical swill.”

But the most popular (and unusual) menu choice at Maggie’s is menudo. This special dish is a soup made from the stomach lining of a cow. It is not sold in many places and is a true Mexican recipe, though it is only available on Saturdays and Sundays at Maggie’s. Menudo is very difficult to make: it takes a lengthy period of time because the meat must sit overnight in water. The next day, it must be cut into small sized pieces. After that, the chefs boil the meat for three hours until it gets moist and tender. Then they can finally start to cook it with the other ingredients necessary to produce a delicious broth.

Grand Rapids Magazine has nominated Maggie’s three times for their Award of Excellence in the Ethnic/Mexican category. Maggie’s received the award in 1998. Even with all this recognition, and though much of this food is imported straight from Mexico, the prices at Maggie’s are reasonable: the most expensive dishes are priced no higher than sixteen dollars.

Maggie’s is closed on Monday, but open from nine to seven on Tuesday through Saturday and on Sunday from nine to three. During these times, you’ll always find  hungry customers wishing and waiting to fill their bellies with the extravagant food of Maggie’s Kitchen. So if you are sick of Americanized Mexican food, try a taste of real Mexican Food! You won’t be disappointed and you’ll get a spicy bang for your buck.

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