Route 66 News

Mitla Cafe marking 75th anniversary

The historic Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino, Calif., is marking its 75th anniversary with a blues and jazz concert Saturday and another celebration in September, reported The Press-Enterprise newspaper.

The key to its longevity has been the family atmosphere and a menu that is largely the same as when Lucia Rodriquez started the restaurant, said Irene Montano, current owner and Rodriquez’s daughter-in-law.

“We try to keep all our plates like they’ve always been prepared and we try to use everything fresh,” she said. […]

The menu is straightforward – tacos, burritos and fresh flour tortillas are some favorites – but it’s one that reflects Rodriguez’s home cooking, said Steve Oquendo, Montano’s nephew and great-grandson of Rodriquez, who as general manager oversees the daily operations.

“The biggest compliment we get here is somebody says that it tastes like their grandma’s cooking,” Oquendo, 38, said.

It’s a big year for Mitla, a Route 66 landmark. Not only does the anniversary mark one of the oldest restaurants in the Los Angeles region, but it played a prominent role in a new book — “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” Glen Bell was a regular diner at the Mitla, and the food inspired him to found the now-ubiquitous Taco Bell restaurant chain.

On a personal note, I dined at the Mitla about a month ago. I wondered how the restaurant’s tacos were so special that they inspired Glen Bell to take Mexican food to a global scale. Once I bit into one, I understood.


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