In Lake County, Latino-owned restaurants have been offering hungry diners authentic fare for decades, from regional dishes tied to homelands to classic comfort foods and everything in between. Each restaurant has freshly prepared flavors to enjoy in establishments that transport diners to a land of color, culture, history and pride in the owners’ journey to where they are today.
Some businesses started as family ventures, while others were taken over after they were already established in the community. Although the menus vary, the common thread among all businesses is that they are backed by loyal customers who keep coming back for more.
Rosales Market and Mexican restaurant, Beulah’s Kitchen in Middletown
Middletown, the gateway to Lake County, looks postcard perfect, surrounded by mountains and nestled in the Loconoma Valley. Not too long ago, both Mount St. Helena and Mount Cobb were covered in snow in early spring. Juxtaposed against snowy scenery and cirrus clouds, the barren pear trees are in full brilliant bloom. Delicate colors splash elegantly in front of the town’s old storefronts, some looking as they did in 1870, when the town first started with a saloon and hotel.
Rosales Market and Mexican Restaurant has become a one-stop shop for many locals. Armando Rosales Jr. and Veronica are siblings and co-owners who run both the market and the restaurant with their father, Armando Rosales Sr., the executive chef. The family has run the market and restaurant since 2009 and has 8 employees, not including the family members who work there.
The store’s market section offers fresh fruits and vegetables, beverages, meats both cooked and raw, tamales and tortilla products, a spice rack any chef would envy, including a variety of chili peppers and bottled hot sauces, Cotija cheese , Mexican candies and specialty chips like Takis, as well as many other picnic essentials. They also offer freshly baked bread and traditional pastries such as conchas, pochitos and more, sourced from Vallejo. Plus catering.
“We love introducing our customers to new and traditional foods,” Rosales Jr. said.
The Rosales siblings said they enjoy running the business. They enjoy visiting regulars and newcomers who come through Lake County.
Veronica hopes to expand the catering aspect of the business by opening her own catering company for the community. The community stepped up and supported family-owned businesses when they offered street takeout when restaurant dining rooms were closed during the 2020 peak of COVID-19..
Along with the food offering, the atmosphere is something special. The walls of the Rosales market and the Mexican restaurant are cheerful, decorated with Mexican art that depicts their proud culture with piñatas and paintings. One piece of art depicts the colorful “Danza de los Viejitos,” a traditional folk dance in Michoacán, Mexico that celebrates and honors the elders of their heritage.
“We value our old people and we are taught to value elders and carry on their work,” Veronica said.
The siblings have always been hardworking. Growing up, they attended the Middletown Unified School District from grades K-12, then helped out at the market and restaurant when their parents owned it.
The family moved to the Los Angeles area in 1989 from the state of Nayarit, Mexico, when the siblings were young children. They finally settled in Lake County in 1996. The family wanted to open a restaurant to give the community a taste of Nayarit, where they are known for their seafood dishes. Their parents ran the business for thirteen years before their children took over in May 2022..
The flavors of Rosales’ homeland are found in their dishes. The dinner restaurant has ample seating and takeout. The Mexican dishes they serve include pozole, tortilla soup, quesabirrias, tacos and enchiladas. Their menu also includes grilled cheese, garlic fries and onion rings.
The family also operates a second establishment, Beulah’s Kitchen, just down the road and next door to the Middletown Art Center. The restaurant only serves American breakfast and lunch. The matriarch of the family, Esther Rosales, runs the quaint little wood-shingled restaurant. Her sister, Betty Caldera, and her sons also work at Beulah’s.
“It’s great that everyone likes our food,” Armondo Sr. said, “We can’t go anywhere without someone recognizing us and saying a good word.”
La Chilanguita Mexican Restaurant in Clearlake
La Chilanguita Mexican Restaurant in Clearlake is located near the waters of the famous and full-water Clear Lake.
The restaurant’s name, La Chilanguita, is slang for “woman raised in Mexico City,” something both owners relate to.