Mercedes Restaurant Offers Fresh & Healthy Alternative
Patricia Mendoza doesn’t believe in diets or any quick schemes to lose weight.
She does believe in healthy meals and using food as a means to prevent serious illnesses and maladies. It can be done, Mendoza said, and she has opened a business in Mercedes to prove her point.
Que Tu Comida Sea Tu Medicina is located next door to the La Quinta Inn & Suites and just down the road from Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets. Food can be a medicine, Mendoza said, just as her restaurant’s name states. A look through Que Tu Comida’s menu suggests just that, with tacos de tofu and nopales and hamburguesa de pistacho. Mendoza wants to show that fruits and vegetables commonly used in Hispanic culture can be utilized to make healthy dishes.
“As Hispanics we have a rich culture,’’ said Mendoza, a Reynosa native who came to the United States as a youth and has lived in Mercedes for eight years. “I think we can use the nutrients that we have in plants and fruits to create healthy meals to give your body what it needs.’’
Opening the restaurant this spring – along with a next-door events center Mendoza also owns – has been a challenge in getting to the other side of pandemic-related fears and restrictions. Both businesses are now open and beginning to see a growth in business after a lean 2020 due to COVID-19. Mendoza is pleased to be doing business in Mercedes as an ideal central point in the Rio Grande Valley where she can draw customers from McAllen to Brownsville.
Mercedes is also the community she now calls home after living for years in McAllen.
“I’ve fallen in love with this community,’’ Mendoza said of Mercedes. “I love its tranquility and how they’ve welcomed us here.’’
Spreading The Word
Que Tu Comida is currently open 11 a.m.-to-7 p.m., Monday through Friday. On a recent Saturday morning, Mendoza went through her restaurant’s menu, happily pointing out its benefits.
It’s not only the lunch and dinner dishes like tostadas de ceviche or hamburguesa de lenteja. There’s also the jugos medicinales, which are juice drinks that are specifically geared to specific health conditions. A drink selection for diabetics features chaptote, lemon, pepino, tomillo y apio. For anemics, there’s a drink featuring beets, carrots and green apples. Another juice selection has apple, lime, cucumber, chard and Mexican squash, and is made to help people with urinary problems.
On the cooking side, Mendoza’s menu highlights that her restaurant uses pans made with the best technology which are free of alloys and ensure the greatest amount of nutrients and flavors are preserved in the dishes offered.
For Mendoza it’s as much about informing people as running a business. She encourages customers to take home her restaurant’s foldout menus listing all the ingredients of Que Tu Comida’s dishes and drinks.
“Our vision is that if we can help people make a change (in their diets), we will be satisfied,’’ she said. “We’re here to help our community.’’
The advice Mendoza offers is of the common-sense variety where a victory toward healthy eating can be taken in small steps. When people tell her they can’t stop drinking sodas, she asks how many they drink a day. If it’s five a day, she advises cutting it to four, then three, and from there reducing it as much as possible. Going through the pandemic helped in one way, she said, mentioning it made people more conscious of making healthy choices in their diets and lifestyles.
“There has been some positive changes coming out of the pandemic,’’ Mendoza said. “People are going to more organic products, eating more fruits and vegetables. That’s what we are doing here.’’
– Ricardo D. Cavazos