By Bob Uphues
If you'd been hoping for more Mexican food options north of the railroad tracks in Brookfield, your wait is over.
Since February, two shops serving Mexican cuisine have opened up down the block from one another on 31st Street and a third is poised to take over the former Fuego Cantina space at Grand Boulevard and Prairie Avenue in downtown Brookfield.
La Michoacana de Brookfield
The first newcomer, La Michoacana de Brookfield, which specializes in homemade Mexican ice cream and other sweet treats, opened in February at 9102 31st St.
Owner Martina Osuna makes the 22 flavors of ice cream and a rainbow of Mexican popsicles, called paletas, from scratch each day using fresh fruit.
If you've never visited a Michoacana ice cream parlor – ice cream shops bearing the name can be found all over Mexico and cities with large Mexican immigrant populations and refer to the state of Michoacan – you might be unfamiliar with some of the flavors, which you won't find at your local Baskin-Robbins.
For starts, there are flavors like guava, tamarind, rice, pecan and mango with chili. A favorite of Osuna's "American" customers, as she calls them, is the paleta de horchata, made from the sweet, cinnamon rice beverage often sold at taquerias.
Her Mexican customers go for something a bit more unusual, at least to the American palate. They come for the mangonada, an ice cream drink that features fresh mango and mango ice cream in a plastic up coated with a sour ketchup-like sauce called chamoy and garnished with a salty, spicy chili powder.
The shop also sells yogurt drinks and aguas frescas, which are soft drinks made with sweet or sour fruit. La Michoacana also sells some savory snacks such as tortas, nachos, elotes and chicharrones.
The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cinco de Mayo was a big day for Kym Shepherd and her dad, Juan Isaac. That Friday was the day they opened Buenas Salsas, which serves authentic Mexican specialties from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week at 9132 31st St. in the space formerly occupied by Petey Jalapeno.
In fact, Isaac's opportunity to take over the Brookfield space came via Petey Jalapeno's owner, Mary Vazquez, the owner of Mary's Morning Mix-Up.
"My dad knew one of her cooks," said Shepherd, who manages Buenas Salsas. "He took her up on her offer."
Initially, Shepherd said they wanted to do an ice cream parlor, like La Michoacana, and may include some of those offerings at the restaurant, which has several tables for dining in.
The restaurant has a menu that includes Mexican breakfast dishes that are served all day long, along with tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, sopes and gorditas. The restaurant also serves full dinners that include sides of beans and rice. A specialty of the restaurant's, Shepherd said, are the chiles rellenos – poblano peppers stuffed with cheese or meat.
Shepherd said many of the recipes are her dad's – he's a butcher – and features his homemade seasonings.
"He sits at home and experiments to find something new," Shepherd said.
The Brookfield village board is poised to grant a full liquor license next week to Fiesta Margarita, a new restaurant slated to open soon at 3755 Grand Blvd.
The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight seven days a week and will feature Mexican cuisine. The business does not yet have a website or a Facebook page.
However, according to a representative of the business who appeared before the village board on May 8, Fiesta Margarita's owners hope to open soon after a liquor license is granted by the village board on May 22.
The corner commercial space at 3755 Grand Blvd. most recently was home to Fuego Cantina, but has been vacant since that eatery's closure in March 2016 after a two-year run.