By Sheryl Oswalt
Luckily the weather cooperated and we hit the road on a Saturday night to check out La Finca, the new Mexican restaurant at 10412 Portage Road. It wasn’t particularly crowded that evening, but we found the atmosphere to be warm and welcoming. The place is not over-decorated and dimly lit like many Mexican chain restaurants. It carries a fresh coat of paint and new tables and chairs with several televisions for viewing. It was bright and clean inside and out.
If my sources are correct; La Finca means “the farm”. No wonder I liked it so much! La Finca is owned and operated by the Ramos family. The Ramos children all went through the Kalamazoo School System and graduated from Loy Norrix High School. Having moved to Portage recently, they couldn’t help but notice that the building at the corner of Portage Road and Osterhout was available for lease. Dad started the conversation of bringing their dream to life. They started looking into it in June and on August 22nd they were opening their own restaurant. Dad–José–retired from his factory job of 20 years and daughter Noemi gave notice at her office job. Today you’ll find Mom (Maria) and José manning the kitchen and Noemi waitressing and managing the operation. Brother Uziel attends Western Michigan University. Both he and brother Abi pitch in to wait tables and help out where they can when they aren’t going to school or working.
Maria had always enjoyed cooking, gaining experience and recipes from her mother who still lives in Mexico. The tortillas are made daily from scratch, as is almost everything else on the menu. I didn’t order the guacamole but from what I could see it was a very generous portion and the on-line reviews of it were very good. The core menu selections on a true Mexican menu are typically rather basic; with the flavor and heat coming from the sauces. Their staple sauces for cooking are their red and green sauces with the green consisting of ground jalapenos and a few other secret ingredients.
They serve fresh mild salsa with their chips when you are seated. Bottled versions of the red and green sauces are brought to the table with your meal so you can heat things up if you desire. My favorite go-to Mexican entrée is the chicken chimichanga. My meal was delicious; crispy and tasty. I was only able to eat about half of it. I topped it with the fresh salsa and tried some of the red sauce; no green sauce for this gal! The texture of the outer tortilla held up when I warmed it up the following day giving me two meals for only $7.99. My husband had the chicken fajitas. While he managed to finish his plate, he too had plenty and enjoyed trying the sauces and experimenting to find just the right level of heat. No room for dessert on this trip.
The staff was friendly and attentive. The menu was extensive and in reviewing it I can almost see the family sitting down and discussing which family favorites would be included. Remember when Grandma used to make us this or that…? It was fun to see the Mexican menu names on one side along with the matching American name that we might be more familiar with. Their descriptions are informative; plan to take a little time to read and review the offerings. They offer a full breakfast menu that they offer all day. They have a children’s menu and also a section they call the Little Cravings menu when you don’t want the full meal; probably a great idea if you want to have room for dessert as the full meals are so generous in size.
Noemi was kind enough to give me a dessert after our interview and I certainly recommend that if you don’t leave room for dessert that you consider getting one to go. Their menu items were very reasonably priced and the portions plentiful. The service was good and the establishment was clean. We will definitely go back; I can’t wait to try the Flautas de Pollo next!