Member Spotlight: MeXo is On a Mission to Bring Traditional & Healthy Mexican Food to Grand Rapids
If you consider yourself a fan of Mexican cuisine, you have to indulge in the food at MeXo. Their menu is built around pre-Hispanic Mexican food that strives to be both traditional and nutritious. In case you were wondering, pre-hispanic cuisine is that of the indigenous people of Mexico, including the Aztec and Maya, who flourished before contact with Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries. MeXo’s Executive Chef, Oscar Moreno, is passionate about the menu he’s created. “Food is a medicine, and the Aztecs understood that. You won’t see any Tex-Mex burritos on our menu. 90% of our menu is gluten free, and we use very little dairy. It’s healthy and delicious.”
Growing up in Mexico, Oscar always had a passion for food and knew he was destined to be a chef. He spent years working at high-end resorts while becoming fluent in English, French, and Spanish. Eventually, Oscar wanted to explore new cultures and decided to make the big move to the United States 25 years ago. “When I got to the U.S., I saw that Mexicans are often misrepresented in our food, and I had to do something about it. I wanted to get back to our roots.” Thus, the dream of MeXo was born.
Q&A with Oscar Moreno, Executive Chef of MeXo
What makes MeXo different from other Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in the area?
The goal of MeXo is to show people what Mexican food is all about. Tex-Mex and other fusions can be delicious, but it doesn’t get to the root of Mexican cuisine. It’s not truly authentic, and it’s not healthy. You can have a delicious meal without using a bunch of refined products. It’s a chef’s responsibility to use the right ingredients, and here at MeXo we work hard to do that. We have on-site greenhouses where we grow plants that are native to Mexico to use in our dishes. I have always been in love with my own culture – especially by the past, and I love exhibiting that love through food.
MeXo has been a Chamber Member since you opened. What benefits have you seen from your membership?
The Chamber has always been here to connect us with others in the community. Taking the time to understand what other businesses are doing right and wrong is essential to becoming a better business yourself. The Chamber has been very supportive of our business goals which we really appreciate. You can learn so much from them about what other businesses are doing, and how you can do better as a business in Grand Rapids.
Someone walks into MeXo for the first time and doesn’t know what to order. What dish do you recommend?
It would be the Cochinita Pibil. It’s a salt crusted & braised achiote marinated pork leg and shoulder served with cilantro rice, habanero slaw & house made tortillas. Traditionally, it’s pork that has been buried unground in a pit where it’s cooked for many hours. We obviously can’t do that here, but we slow-roast the pork with an aromatic marinade. It’s a very popular dish! (Authors note: I tried it, and can confirm it is delicious.)
What are some new things at MeXo you’re excited about in 2019?
We are launching a Prehispanic Chef Dinner Series starting on January 31st. Every detail will be as authentic as we can get it – we are even going to put sand on the floor! The first meal we’re doing is inspired by Aztec culture. We want this to be a very intimate experience, so seating is limited. Also coming up is Valentine’s Day, where we will host a romantic-themed meal, with dancing after 10 p.m. Also, if you’re a Salsa dancer, or want to learn, we host a Salsa Night twice a month. You can check out our Facebook Page for more information.