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New restaurant strives for the authentic

9/17/2012

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The newest Mexican restaurant in town, Cancun Mexican Grill, has something for everybody -- even American food.

There's a small section on the menu for burgers, chicken, steaks and fish.

"Sometimes, one member of the family will like only American, so everybody can come together without anyone mad or sad," manager Maria Lopez said. "Everybody can get what they want."

Cancun Mexican Grill is located at 1011 Elm, site of the former Coffee Rules Wine & Spirits Lounge. Even though American fare is served, authentic Mexican cuisine is the highlight of the menu. Lopez said her family's restaurant -- similar to the five it's opened before the one here -- serves traditional Mexican food.

"I believe our food is authentic," Lopez said. "I believe ours has very, very good taste. We have gotten lots of good compliments from our other restaurants."

Three years ago, Lopez's father, Miguel Lopez, moved his family from Tennessee, where he worked as a landscaper, to Pratt.

Soon after, the family opened its first restaurant in Greensburg. Four more soon followed; the Hays location opened last week.

"My dad always wanted his own business," Lopez said. "So he started looking around, started the one in Greensburg."

Lopez, 31, is managing a restaurant for the first time. She is comforted in knowing help from her family is just a phone call away.

"When we're looking for a place, it's who is going to manage this one," Lopez said, adding she was a little nervous when the restaurant first opened. "They said I was going to be the one for this one."

The menu has pictures of some of the restaurant's favorite dishes.

"Our menus have a lot of pictures," Lopez said. "Certainly those pictures are a very good choice to go for.

"Me, I'm a person when I go to a restaurant I take a look at the pictures," she added. "If I like the pictures, that's what I order."

There are several lunch and dinner plates on the menu.

"Good variety of everything," Lopez said. "Our menu has a little variety of everything. I believe we're going to have something for everyone."

For somebody coming to the restaurant for the first time, Lopez does have a recommendation.

"We have a lot of good plates, but I would recommend the molcajete, because it has a little bit of everything," she said. "That's a really good plate, because it has salad, rice and beans."

That plate also includes shrimp, chicken, beef, grilled vegetables and chorizo, which is Mexican sausage.

"A little bit of everything, so you get to try everything on one plate," Lopez said.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, it is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lopez said there was a reason for the name chosen for the restaurant.

"Cancun, a lot of people are familiar with that name," she said. "When you hear Cancun, you're thinking Mexico."