Salvadoran Cuisine

Izote Latin Cocina owner, Bella Marroquin. December 10, 2021

It was Canada day in 2018 when Bella Marroquin and her family introduced Salvadoran cuisine to the Medicine Hat community. They served the national dish of El Salvador, Pupusa, and suddenly all their customers asked if they would consider catering, and when they’d be opening a dine-in restaurant.

“It was a whole new world and experience for us to be serving our cuisine to the community. There was so much energy and curiosity towards it,” says Marroquin. “It was the conversations that came from that event that lead us to opening a dine-in restaurant.”

In May 2019, Marroquin and her family opened the doors to Izote Latin Cocina (Izote), where they serve a full menu of South American cuisine, including Pupusas, a savoury, thick corn tortilla that can be stuffed with almost anything. Izote’s menu features breakfast, tacos, Salvadoran-style chili, lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options and more.

“We started so small, yet the business has boomed. The love people shared for our culture and food on Canada Day really encouraged us to take the risk to open a storefront, and the support has been consistent ever since,” Marroquin says.

Marroquin and her family spent quality time together in the downtown area often when she and her siblings were young, so choosing a downtown location for their business seemed the most fitting.

For the last three years, Izote has participated in the infamous community event ‘Midnight Madness’ event that encourages downtown businesses to stay open until 12 a.m.

“This year was by far the busiest for us. We saw our regulars dine-in and new faces who said they’ve been meaning to stop by. This event was a great opportunity for residents to discover and try new businesses in the downtown area, including ours,” says Marroquin. “It was such a nice feeling to see the streets busy with line-ups, and we even had to turn people away because we were so busy.”

Marroquin and her family all have full-time jobs while they run the restaurant. They are currently only open two nights a week, Friday and Saturday, but those nights are busy enough to keep them serving the community their authentic and traditionally cooked dishes.

“My family immigrated to Alberta in 1989, and since then we’ve thrived on keeping our culture, language and cuisine alive for our family. We opened the business to continue with that, and what better way for us to give back to the community who opened their arms to us when we came here,” Marroquin says.

Izote Latin Cocina is located downtown at 650 3rd Street SE, Medicine Hat.



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