Quintero's Mexican Restaurant
If you go
What: Quintero's Mexican Restaurant
Where: 107 W. Jefferson Ave., Hayden
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
Hayden The vivid colors of Quintero's Mexican Restaurant evoke, appropriately, Mexico.
The interior is done up in oranges, yellows and blues, and the green leaves of fake plants spill over the bar. Orange-tan tiles conjure images of desert earth. The food is bright, too, with red sauces, rich brown mole, a rainbow of beverages and a colorful seafood and avocado ceviche.
The cheerful images also reflect the Mexican family that runs the Hayden restaurant. Members of the Quintero clan teased one another as they arranged and rearranged themselves for a photo last week, laughing and bantering in Spanish.
The restaurant has been open since Dec. 19, Yara Quintero said, and this isn't the family's first culinary venture. They ran a restaurant for more than 20 years in Honolulu.
"I've told customers since Hawaii: This is typical Mexican soul food," said Quintero, whose parents own the restaurant. "When you go to a soul food restaurant, you have mom and grandma cooking in the back, and out front, you have the love. Mom doesn't feed customers what she wouldn't feed her family."
The whole family helps out at Quintero's - all 17 or 18 members, she said.
"Even the grandkids come and serve chips and salsa," Quintero said. "You've got to start 'em young."
Quintero's parents, Carmen and Luis Quintero, do a lot of the cooking. Yara Quintero's sister Metzeri Clark is learning the ropes in the kitchen. Clark's husband, Gabriel, works the front of the house. Clark and Quintero's other brother and sister also wait tables.
The restaurant site used to house the Food Mill, which closed last fall. Quintero's started serving 35 days after that, Yara Quintero said, adding that Hayden residents would stop her and Carmen Quintero in the streets to ask when it was opening.
"We really did it for the town," Yara Quintero said.
The restaurant uses almost no canned ingredients, Gabriel Clark said. Quintero said they try to buy locally, heading to Craig for meat and produce or buying in town. The dishes all are made fresh when ordered, except for the rice and beans, Quintero said.
Lunch prices fall in the $8 to $9 range, Quintero said, and dinners run from about $10 to about $16.
Popular items include the chile relleno, the pescado empapelado, the carne al arriero and the pollo en mole, the family said. Yara Quintero munches on different things depending on her mood, she said. One of her favorites is the chicken champiÃ±ones, which is chicken with mushrooms, sauteed onions, garlic and white wine.
A family affair
The Quintero family moved to Hayden throughout several years. Gabriel Clark lived in the area previously, and he and Metzeri wanted to raise their four children there. They have been there two or three years.
Carmen and Luis Quintero arrived in September. The two originally are from MichoacÃ¡n, which is about three hours southwest of Mexico City, Yara Quintero said. The restaurant's food is inspired by dishes in different parts of the country, such as Veracruz and Oaxaca, she said.
The family loves the Hayden community, Yara Quinteros said, and has plans to give back to it. The restaurant is starting a benefit Monday for the Wheat family, whose townhouse caught fire last month. Quintero's will give the family 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of two appetizers - taquitos and chorizo quesadillas. The benefit will run through April 19.
The Wheats manage Vista Verde Townhomes, where the Quinteros live, Yara Quintero said. Andrea Wheat helped them work through the licensing process for Quintero's, she said.
The Wheats were particularly devastated by the March 7 fire because they lost their previous home in Louisiana to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Wheat said.
Andrea and her husband, Kendal, haven't taken their two daughters back into the house. The family is living in a unit owned by the chief executive of their company, Andrea Wheat said. Neylan, 11, and Hillary, 8, are treating it like they're on vacation, she said.
"They'll handle it," Andrea Wheat said. "They've gone through one disaster where they've lost everything. It's hard to go through another disaster where they've lost everything yet again."
She said she was grateful to the Quintero family.
"The family is so wonderful and so genuine," she said. "I hope they do very well."
Wheat also said she loves the restaurant's food.
"Oh my gosh, their food's amazing," Wheat said. "It's fabulous; it's really nice to have such great food in the area. My husband and I lived in Texas for a while, so it's great to have authentic Mexican here."
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