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Friday October 20, 2017
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La Fiesta Mexicana



It may seem odd to speak last of the first food you're likely to be offered upon entering the pastel pink- and green-trimmed storefront on Cross Street across from Eastern Michigan University. But the hint of ceremony that it comes with marks the La Fiesta Mexicana experience, and maybe even your memory of it. Shortly after you step into dark-paneled and burnt orange-tiled interior, owner Michelle Roman is likely to greet you and confirm (not ask, really) that you want guacamole. She may indicate, with a wave of her arm, that it's being made for you as she speaks--in the back kitchen that you see only teasingly through a low horizontal slat of a window. And when it comes, it will not be the slimy yellow-green soup some Mexican restaurants ladle up sloppily. Rather, the small dark bowl of guacamole you get with your crispy corn chips will be light green and substantial--a fresh-tasting spread with tiny sparks of cilantro, emblematic of a gracious meal to come.

Roman was headed back to Mexico and her native Jalisco in September for the country's bicentennial celebrations. Meanwhile, her restaurant in Ypsi will celebrate two decades in business on December 17.

It's an accomplishment by any measure, but especially for a family business on a sometimes-rough block--Roman's business partner, Guillermo Aleman, says a rowdy crowd hanging out in front of the biker bar a few doors down scared off some customers last year. But the bar closed in the spring and will be under new management when it reopens, and Aleman says that business has been coming back up a bit.

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